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Small firms adapt as technology changes everything

Fast-moving technology is allowing small firms to punch above their weight as research shows how small businesses are finding new ways to compete and expand.

The research, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Citrix, concludes that technology will allow small firms to scale without necessarily adding staff. Its findings show that: "Investing in the right technology enables business owners to test new markets, automate processes and explore outsourcing production or service delivery to another market, managing vital relationships through technology."

In particular, technology is allowing SMEs to expand their horizons. Six out of ten SMEs in the survey say they anticipate doing business internationally in the year ahead; this represents a 20% increase in the number of UK small businesses currently selling or sourcing products or services abroad.

Technology is also impacting on access to expertise, especially digital skills. The survey found that employing new staff with a digital competence was the third most important factor for growing a business after access to fast internet connections and expenditure on technology.

Additionally, the research finds that businesses are moving away from a structured workforce to a more project-based world, where experts and individuals are pulled in where necessary.

The report says: "With the lack of specific digital talent internally and locally, [SMEs] are searching for remote workers and freelancers elsewhere. For businesses, freelancers are generally more mobile and flexible, well-suited for a dynamic, fast-paced and project-based environment."

And with location no longer a problem, small firms are able to tap into a "larger talent pool to find the right skillsets", according to the report.

It concludes: "Not everyone can come up with a market disrupting digital business model. However, technology can help small business owners scale, compete and open new revenue streams."

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