By Daniel Hunter

A new study of UK small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) has revealed that the humble corporate website is the biggest source for business growth, as almost a quarter (22 per cent) say that it is where most of their sales leads originate. SMEs’ websites as a new business tool beat networking events into second place (19 per cent), and existing contacts (15 per cent) into third.

In a survey of 100 IT and business decision makers, Fasthosts also discovered that almost 1 in 3 (28 per cent) UK SMEs estimate that they lose between £10,000 and £30,000 if their Internet goes down for just one day. A further 1 in 10 (11 per cent) say that they could potentially lose more than £50,000 per day if they were unable to access the Internet.

“In a corporate world full of technical buzzwords and new delivery models for software and services, these findings just go to show that the corporate website is still king,” said Simon Yeoman, General Manager of Fasthosts.

“On a daily basis we work with SMEs of all sizes, from micro businesses consisting of a one-man-band right through to companies employing over 250 people, and today, being online is absolutely crucial to business growth. From reaching new markets — geographically as well as demographically — to adding value to the products and services that they sell, SMEs are among the best at exploiting the resources that they have available.”

Social media use also demonstrated headway among SMEs for business development, with 10 per cent claiming that most of their leads come from LinkedIn, 6 per cent from Facebook and 4 per cent from Twitter.

The survey also found that over 3 in 5 SMEs have experienced Internet downtime at least once in the last year, with a staggering 41 per cent stating that it has happened multiple times.

“SMEs rarely have the resources of larger enterprises available to them, but simply being online and having a website is clearly the absolute basic necessity for getting off the ground," Yeoman added.

"As we can see, consistent periods of downtime in such a short space of time is not only very damaging to this sector but it shouldn’t be acceptable. As we see more of a widespread roll-out of super-fast broadband and more resilient and robust networks, I expect to see this figure go down and confidence among SMEs grow.”

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