‘Go and Grow Online’ to digitalise 20k small firms

A new digital training programme ‘Go and Grow Online’ aims to support over 20,000 small businesses across Ireland through virtual training and supports to accelerate digital, sales, CRM and financial skills.

Launched today (14 January) at StartUp 2022, Ireland’s largest virtual event for small business owners, participants will be able to access on average over €5,000 worth of supports to grow and develop their businesses.

Go and Grow Online is a 12-month training and support programme for small businesses in Ireland. The programme is free to access and offers digital workshops, drop-in sessions, e-learning, and links to specialist digital advisers so small business owners can boost digital skills and confidence. Topics covered in the programme include how to boost sales through selling online, digital marketing, cloud accounting, cyber security and more.

“We are witnessing a once-in-a-generation opportunity for small businesses. The events of the last two years have fundamentally altered the way we live, and created markets that simply didn’t exist beforehand”

Go and Grow Online is supported by Vodafone, Microsoft, and Klarna. The programme comes from Enterprise Nation, the small business network, small business support platform and provider delivering support to more than 50,000 UK small businesses every month.

A digital transformation Swiss Army knife

Irish businesses who take part in Go and Grow Online will have access to the platform and the supports provided including workshops, e-learning, and access to digital advisers.

The programme is devised in response to demand from small business owners – many of whom founded their companies in response to the pandemic, with stats showing a 42% increase in new company registrations in the first half of 2021 alone – who are looking for training on how to ensure their businesses succeed online. 

When restrictions allow, there will also be in-person digital drop-in sessions, hosted in selected locations around the country, with content delivered by a network of digital trainers, all of whom are experts in topics ranging from SEO to online selling.

“SMEs account for a large majority of businesses in our economy, playing a pivotal role in innovation, job creation and economic development,” said Sinead Bryan, managing director of Vodafone Business Ireland.

“We’re therefore very excited to work with Enterprise Nation to deliver a best-in-class skills training programme to support businesses across all sectors and helping them maximise their digital potential. In doing so, businesses can unlock new areas for growth and customer interaction, empower employees and create operational facilities. This initiative will play an important role in future -proofing our SME sector and addressing skills gaps to make sure every business has the best chance of success.”

A once in a generation opportunity

“As a start-up, I’m always looking for ways to successfully grow my own business,” Aisling Flanagan, founder of Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Milk Yogurt and Cheese said.

“To have experts advising on digital and social selling as well as areas like finance is a major boost for me and my business.”

Enterprise Nation is a small business support platform and provider delivering support to more than 50,000 small businesses every month. Its aim is to help people turn their good ideas into great businesses – through expert advice (including a comprehensive resource library), events, acceleration support and networking.

Enterprise Nation was founded in 2005 by entrepreneur Emma Jones, also co-founder of enterprise campaign StartUp Britain. She is author of best-selling business books including Spare Room Startup, Working 5 to 9, Go Global, Start a Business for £99 and the StartUp Kit.

“We are witnessing a once-in-a-generation opportunity for small businesses,” Jones explained.

“The events of the last two years have fundamentally altered the way we live, and created markets that simply didn’t exist beforehand. You need look no further than the transition from offline to online selling. The acceleration of digital technology and social media has levelled the playing field, providing virtual marketing platforms and marketplaces for every business to connect directly with their audience – wherever in the world they may be.  We want to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs in Ireland, giving them the tools they need to build their digital skills and grow their companies throughout 2022.”

Peter Lougheed, SME Lead, Microsoft Ireland the Go and Grow Online initiative is a unique opportunity for Ireland’s small businesses to continue the journey of digital transformation that has accelerated across all sectors in the last two years.

“The programme reflects Microsoft Ireland’s commitment to supporting the digital and online ambitions of SMEs to create efficiencies, grow and expand and remain competitive. We are excited to work with organisations around the country to help employees work productively wherever they are, adapt business processes with automation and business insights, provide advice on new ways to engage with customers and to embrace security as more businesses move to the cloud.”

Colin Creagh, head of Business Development at Klarna Ireland, added: “Small businesses are the driving force behind today’s economy, creating jobs, leading innovation and giving life to local communities. At Klarna we are delighted to support this initiative to support Ireland’s small business owners as they adapt to an online world.”

Main image at top (from left): Lisa Corcoran, head of SMB Business at Vodafone; Colin Creagh, head of Business Development at Klarna Ireland; Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation; and Peter Lougheed, SME lead, Microsoft Ireland

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.