Dragons’ Den star offers digital advice to SMEs

In collaboration with Vodafone, Steven Bartlett fronts a documentary series that aims to help small business owners who are struggling with modern digital technology

Dragons’ Den star offers digital advice to SMEs

Television celebrity Steven Bartlett has launched a series of documentary films aimed at helping SME owners make the most of digital technology. Bartlett, who is best known for appearing in the hit BBC program Dragons’ Den, will front this series of videos titled ‘Digital SOS’.

‘Digital SOS’ will demonstrate simple tips to help small business owners increase their knowledge of modern technology and make better use of their digital skills. Worrying statistics have shown that over one in three (37%) SMEs fear going out of business during the next couple of years.

And many have indicated that they could improve profitability and efficiency, simply by developing a greater understanding of digital technology. This analysis has also revealed that a lack of digital skills among business owners could cost the UK economy around £50bn.

‘Digital SOS’ has been produced in partnership with multinational telecommunications company Vodafone, for whom Steven Bartlett is a business ambassador. During this three-film series, Bartlett speaks to bosses who are currently struggling to get to grips with digital technology.

He offers advice on how to use technology that will hopefully make their businesses more efficient and profitable. Each episode illustrates the free business resources that are available via Vodafone’s V-Hub SupportVodafone research showed that almost half of SMEs (46%) believe they could improve profitability and efficiency by having a greater knowledge of digital technology.

However, many admit to not knowing where they can find help on this topic. Economic modelling suggests that SMEs, which make full use of digital technology, would collectively give a £114bn boost to the UK economy.

Speaking about the documentary series, Steven Bartlett said: “These films really drive home the benefits for businesses that have a sound digital strategy in place. SMEs are the backbone of our country and it’s alarming to see the detrimental effect that a lack of digital knowledge is having on the economy.

“Business owners need to embrace digital technology and there is a whole world of opportunities that SMEs can take advantage of by boosting their skills. Our hope is that this documentary series will provide business owners with the inspiration they need to develop these skills.”

The first episode in the series sees Steven visit the Apex Gym in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire. Launched in 2018, the Apex Gym provides coaching to kids and adults with disabilities. Similar to many SMEs, the business has struggled since the pandemic reached the UK in 2020.

Steven’s visit was focussed on helping the company’s founder, Amelia Lawes, turn the business around.  Amelia’s predicament is similar to that of many other SMEs, which are struggling to make a profit or even breakeven. Amelia said: Trying to keep afloat through the pandemic was hard, as was trying to recover.   

“This whole experience has been eye-opening for me but I can clearly see the benefits of having a solid digital strategy. Not only when developing a business, but also keeping up with the ever-evolving digital trends. I am grateful for the work which Vodafone and Steven have done to help educate me on how to unleash the potential of my company.

“I am now starting to embrace all of the amazing benefits that digital technology can provide. And other SMEs can do the same by watching ‘Digital SOS’. Unfortunately, many small business owners still lack the knowledge and confidence to do so effectively.” 

Jo Wedlock, Head of Business Marketing with Vodafone UK, said: “We recognise the challenges small business owners face on a daily basis. Small business owners have to undertake a range of roles themselves, such as marketing, PR, social media, HR, sales and accounting, all rolled into one.

“They have to juggle all of these responsibilities which often mean there is little time left to brush up on digital skills. However, devising a robust digital strategy needn’t be that complicated or time consuming.

“That’s why we’ve launched ‘Digital SOS’, to demonstrate simple tactics that will help small business owners make better use of their digital skills. Without this knowledge, small businesses will find market conditions tough and will struggle to boost growth.”

Note: The Vodafone Business V-Hub is a free online support service that provides expert guidance, knowledge, tools and training. SMEs can discover how to take the next step on their digital journey by talking to a team of advisers. To find out more please click here.

The first episode of ‘Digital SOS’ is available by clicking here

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone is a British multinational telecommunications company, with global headquarters in Newbury, Berkshire. Their services span mobile, fixed line connections, home and office broadband. They made the UK’s first live holographic call, using 5G, in 2018. They were also the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. As of March 2022, they had 5G in 380 locations across Europe – 141 in the UK and 239 collectively across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland. Their 4G network coverage currently reaches more than 99% of the UK population. Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. The company’s full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 26 UK towns and cities, and this will rise to 35 shortly, thanks to partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach.

Andy Swales
Andy Swales

Share via
Copy link