Free one day seminars about e-commerce are part of the Government’s attempts to ‘nudge’ more business to export.

The behavioural insight team at Downing Street has analysed what prevents small businesses from exporting more and its findings have led to the launch of a free e-commerce scheme for more than 3,500 firms.

Officials believe small businesses are discouraged from exporting because of “soft” barriers to trade such as a lack of confidence and social links. But firms that enhance their online presence can significantly boost overseas sales and officials believe more firms could be encouraged to follow suit.
The result is the Business department’s Web Fuelled Business initiative, which will see small business owners, freelancers and managers offered free places on one-day seminars in 11 cities from January to March next year.

The seminars, which will be led by School for Startups and are backed by Yell, the search engine, will focus on e-commerce, search engine optimisation, online advertising, export finance and insurance and the use of online marketplaces and social media.

Doug Richard, a technology investor and founder of School for Startups, said: “It’s an intensive nudge. It’s a case where businesses want the nudge but they don’t know how to get from A to B.”

The scheme is part of the Government’s Finance Fitness campaign for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

Under the scheme, it has created new online tools on the Business Link website and has supported private-sector providers running seminars on record-keeping, cash flow tracking and invoicing.

Business Secretary Vince Cable told Your Business: “I don’t want to get this wrong. Unlike the household sector and unlike government, which have had seriously excessive debts, most businesses have been quite fit, much better than the last time we had a financial crisis two decades ago.

“But nonetheless one of the problems we have is very large number of SMEs and compared with German companies they are not engaged in international trading activities.
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