New ‘You’re the Business’ platform from Google, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices provides online training and resources for all Irish SMEs to help them get online, to grow their digital footprint and expand internationally.
Google, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices have forged a new partnership to support Irish businesses to upskill digitally and grow their online capabilities.
Launching today, the new ‘You’re the Business’ programme aims to accelerate Irish SME growth through digitalisation in the form of a free of charge online training scheme, as well as an SME reward programme. This comes after recent research from Google found that significant gaps in the areas of digital skills and competence remain a concern for many SMEs.
“Knowing that there is still a digital divide, where a significant proportion of Irish businesses are not online, even though their customers are, we are keen to come together to help”
“The skills required for doing business in a digital-first world are constantly evolving, and it can be challenging for SMEs to stay ahead of the curve as they manage their day-to-day business needs,” said Damien English, TD, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail.
“Irish SMEs’ ability to adapt and thrive is both an inspiring and vital component of their success. To prosper on their digital journey, Irish SMEs need support and that is why I am encouraging businesses from across Ireland to engage with the You’re the Business initiative and would like to wish Google, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices every success in its roll out.”
How to boost your revenues through digital
Through the new ‘You’re the Business’ digital platform, Irish SMEs will have access to a series of live and on-demand training sessions, geared towards supporting companies at all stages of their digitalisation journey, including those at early stages right through to those more digitally-sophisticated businesses who are ready to export globally. The training will consist of three modules that will help businesses understand how they can use digital to get online, grow online and expand internationally.
A recent comprehensive study from Google, developed in partnership with Amárach found that almost half of SMEs believe they could more than double their turnover (40%) and profitability (45%) with an investment in digital skills. The research also shows that SMEs believe that enhancing digital skills could increase environmental sustainability (21%) and reduce running costs (27%).
When it comes to training, the research found that 32% of Irish SMEs would like to invest time in digital skills training. This finding is supported by data from Google that confirms an increase of 1,100% in searches for the terms ‘IT Course’ in Ireland since January 2022.
In terms of technology, the research shows that more than one in every ten SMEs based in Ireland (11%) are not yet using digital technology in their business – almost half (45%) of SMEs do not have their own website [comparably higher than the EU average of 23%] and 47% do not use social media and video platforms. In addition, almost half (46%) of Irish SMEs feel their employees have either none or few of the skills needed to successfully adopt and use new technologies and less than half (47%) of SMEs in Ireland have invested any time into digital skills training.
“The positive impact that digital has had on our business is invaluable,” said Alistair A Jeje founder of Caribbean takeaway restaurant Socafro Kitchen in Waterford.
“Growing our presence online has allowed us to expand, to grow our customer base, hire more people and to reach our community. I know that getting started in digital can be daunting, particularly when running a business leaves very few, if any, spare hours in the day but there are excellent supports out there. I would encourage fellow founders to engage with their LEO and to visit the You’re the Business campaign site to see what digital can do for your business and how easy it is to get started.”
Compete to the power of 10
The ‘You’re the Business’ platform and resources are open to all SMEs, but ten participants that demonstrate a commitment to digital at different stages of their journey will be awarded with a suite of customised supports, including mentorship and ad funding.
“Google, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices have a long history of partnering with businesses to help them thrive,” said Alice Mansergh, director for Small business at Google.
“We’re proud to have been able to play a part in the growth of many Irish businesses over the last two decades, recently helping them navigate a global pandemic. Knowing that there is still a digital divide, where a significant proportion of Irish businesses are not online, even though their customers are, we are keen to come together to help. Getting online can unlock so many opportunities for businesses. Digital skills will be important for driving competitiveness and navigating volatility in the years to come, and so will be important not only to individual SMEs but to the Irish economy overall.”
“SMEs are the driving force of our economy, both nationally and internationally,” added Carol Gibbons, divisional manager for Regions and Local Enterprise at Enterprise Ireland.
“There’s no doubt they understand the importance of digital tools and skills, and supporting Irish companies on their digital journey is an important aspect of Enterprise Ireland’s new strategy ‘Leading in a Changing World’. We share Google’s commitment to supporting Irish businesses as they look to enhance their online capabilities, and we are looking forward to working on this initiative to help businesses to successfully grow their digital footprints globally.”
In order to be considered as one of the ten firms to receive a package of tailored supports, SMEs will be invited to submit a video [via the You’re the Business site] no longer than two minutes in duration detailing what their business means to them, as well as an example of how they have used digital to enhance their business.
The 10 SMEs selected by a panel of established judges will receive a customised suite of digital supports from Google, which includes a €1,000 Google ads package and expert mentorship across a range of technical areas that will help them to further develop their business.
“For many small businesses taking the time to upskill and change processes, especially getting online, can be overwhelming,” said Padraic McElwee, chair of the network of Local Enterprise Offices. “Over the past two years with Brexit and Covid, small businesses have needed to be reactive to a very challenging landscape, which has demonstrated the importance of businesses to develop and embrace new skills.
“The Local Enterprise Offices have been to the fore with a range of supports to enable businesses get online and maximise their online presence with the likes of the Trading Online Voucher. By partnering with Google on this initiative we will continue to support all our small businesses as they embrace an ever-changing digital world.”
For further information on the various training modules as well as the You’re the Business competition, please visit: g.co/yourethebusiness
Main image at top (from left): Carol Gibbons, Regions and Local Enterprise Divisional Manager at Enterprise Ireland, Minister Damien English, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Niamh Cotter of Lia Arann, Alice Mansergh, Director for Small Business at Google, Richard Murphy, Centre of Excellence Manager of the Local Enterprise Office Unit and Padraic McElwee, Chair of Network of Local Enterprise Offices.