As part of its commitment to support the business market and understand how it can respond to small business needs, digital imaging leader Epson organised a second Business Council where experts from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK held a discussion on the issues that matter most to small businesses and start-ups right now.
Drawing on research, conducted on behalf of Epson, the discussion focused on topics including customer acquisition and loyalty, business growth, investment and technology as well as the ongoing fight for survival as a micro business in difficult economic times.
Representing the UK Sara Murray, founder of insurance comparison site confused.com and personal safety site buddi.com, was joined on the panel by six other business figures and academics.
The research found that British small businesses lag behind their European counterparts when it comes to e-commerce - just 59% of them see online selling as a business opportunity as opposed to 72% of small businesses across Europe. The survey also made it clear that social media is seen as very important for small firms with 60% of them active on Twitter, but a large proportion of small businesses admitted they didn't know where to start when using social media for marketing purposes.
"The Epson Business Council is part of a significant on-going commitment from Epson to support small and micro businesses in Europe," said Maria Eagling, marketing director of Epson Europe. "Often staffed by between one and ten people we know that these businesses are frequently lacking in resources, networking opportunities and the day-today advice which is so vital to business owners and managers."
The research and the business council should be a useful resource as it provides a unique insight into how start-ups and small businesses in Europe operate, what they value in their business and how they change to keep on top of changes in technology in order to keep growing.
"In an economic downturn it is so often the one-man bands that are the first to go under, so it's vital that networking and advice forums are set up to help support these types of business," said journalist and broadcaster Anthony Hilton, who moderated the business council. "Being able to share real solutions and experiences from some of the most prominent European business owners and entrepreneurs will be invaluable and a huge opportunity in these tough times."
To find out more about the issues and challenges faced by small businesses across Europe and get insight from top entrepreneurs, follow @EpsonBizUK for the latest information from the Business Council. Visit the Epson Business blog for more advice.