By Charles Bligh, Managing Director, TalkTalk Business

It’s an exciting time for small businesses as consumer confidence continues to grow and thoughts turn to expansion.

Recent research from TalkTalk Business, found that more than a fifth of businesses see growth as their top priority for the next 12 months, but just 27 per cent are ‘very optimistic’ about achieving this goal. So what’s going wrong and how can SoHos and SMEs be given the tools they need if they are to grow?

Digital skills driving digital business

A report from the House of Lords’ Digital Skills Committee called for digital literacy to be given the same priority as basic maths and English. It said the UK was at a tipping point and needs to create the conditions for digital businesses to thrive. Further TalkTalk Business research in conjunction with analyst house Ovum showed that more than a third of small businesses, 36 per cent, believe their employees have poor IT literacy, however separate research from TalkTalk Businesses showed only five per cent plan to invest in training during 2015.

It is crucial that small businesses across the UK embrace training and digital skills to level the playing field with bigger competitors, and grasp every opportunity for growth. The benefits of having digitally savvy staff are incalculable, but smaller companies often realise this too late. In today’s digital age, where flexible working and a bring your own device (BYOD) culture are expected norms, and an e-commerce function is demanded from customers, SMEs need to ensure they have the necessary technical expertise.

Invest in your workforce, invest in technology

Small businesses must take the responsibility to invest in their workforce and help them join the digital generation. In tandem, companies like TalkTalk Business are helping SMEs make the most of what 2015 has to offer, by providing reliable broadband at a price small businesses can afford. SMEs should be asking themselves if they can afford to miss opportunities for growth over the coming months.

There is no denying that keeping your business connected to your customers and the rest of the business community is essential to the growth of any ambitious SME and our research showed 94 per cent of small businesses believe that broadband is important to their growth. Firms must demand more from suppliers and their technology, working with those who can provide agile, tailored and resilient connectivity, but also demonstrate good value for money, understanding the budget constraints many SMEs face.

Small and agile businesses are in a great position to take advantage of the digital economy, and drive Britain’s digital future.