An hour saved is an hour gained: 65 per cent of SMBs lose time and money by not using technology to full potential

  • 59% of SMBs waste up to ten hours a week on administration tasks, taking time from activity that could increase revenue and growth.
  • 65% of SMBs admitted to using outdated Microsoft Office technology, decreasing productivity by not taking advantage of latest benefits.
  • Giving SMBs back 2 hours each week could boost the UK economy by almost £9bn[1].

London, UK, 22nd February, 2016 – 123-reg today announces the results of a highly anticipated YouGov survey, revealing that small and micro business owners want to be more productive but severely lack the awareness of how technology can help them achieve this goal.

In an online study of 1057 decision makers of businesses with 1 or 2 employees, commissioned by 123-reg and undertaken by YouGov, found that when it comes to online awareness, small business owners surveyed understand the importance of a website and the benefits it can bring to business growth, proven by the fact that 64% of respondents set up their website more than three years ago. However, SMBs fall down when it comes to linking their day-to-day processes and their online presence, showing a failure to use technology to help save them time.

An overwhelming 63% of small business owners would like to increase their company’s productivity2 but only a third (33%) of these had a plan in place to do so. A key reason for this low percentage seems to be a majority of SMB’s used Microsoft Office products (82%) – many were unaware of how to get the most time saving and therefore productivity increasing benefits from these tools:


I didn’t know about this I knew about this, but don’t do it I already do this
Link to files to avoid going over email storage limits 60% 22% 3%
Embed secure signatures into emails 53% 30% 3%
Edit a document simultaneously with another person 52% 31% 2%
Hold video conference instead of face to face meetings 48% 35% 3%
Access and send files anywhere on any device 37% 40% 8%
Back up and store files in the cloud 26% 50% 9%


Nick Leech, digital director, 123-reg commented: “UK micro and small business owners are huge multi-taskers – managing all of the company’s tasks from completing the work, generating new sales and managing accounts and pay roll. UK SMBs have already demonstrated they’re digitally savvy by embracing websites and social media in their millions. Now, they need to think about how they can save time by embracing technology further so they can focus on the tasks that add the most value to their bottom line. For example, they can save time on travel to customers by investing in high quality video conferencing, as well as on smaller task such as using digital signatures on formal contracts to avoid printing and scanning, setting emails to be delivered once a day instead of interrupting work flows, and working collaboratively on documents with partners to avoid lengthy meetings.”


Leech added: “The need to save time is crucial, not only to grow your own business but for the UK economy. We’ve calculated, based on recent UK Government business estimates, that by giving five hours per week back to SMBs, an additional £23bn of revenue can be generated. In the past two years, almost half (46%) of UK businesses have grown, but this figure shows that there’s so much room for additional expansion. Technology can be seen as a challenge – but the new tools on the market are easy to use for those without a technical background – any business owner can set them up and start managing their business and home lives more efficiently. By embracing additional tools they will be able to reduce time spent on unproductive admin tasks and focus on the activities that really drive business growth, such as producing excellent work or networking for new leads.”


Beyond a lack of awareness of technology, businesses listed several additional barriers to increasing productivity including spending too much time on admin (28%), managing communications with customers (17%) traveling to meetings (11%), managing complex IT issues (8%) and tax/National Insurance (9%). Family commitments and a lack of time made up the vast majority of additional reasons given. To this end, almost a fifth (17%) of business owners reported that growth has been affected negatively by a lack of time and 31% said they could make more money if they were more productive.


One change that SMBs can make to gain more time is related to the fact that many small business owners surveyed who use Microsoft Office, 65%, said they were using older versions of Microsoft Office and therefore not capitalising on some of the time-saving benefits available from using the latest technology. Glenn Woolaghan, small business director at Microsoft UK said: “The survey demonstrates that whilst small businesses are hungry for growth, they don’t always fully understand how technology can assist in their ambitions. With the help of partners such as 123-reg, small businesses can unlock the benefits of Microsoft Office 365, enabling them to think big and grow fast. With functions such as regular updates, additional OneDrive cloud storage and ongoing support, small business owners will be able to bridge the technology gap to gain productivity benefits.”


John Westwood-Hill, founder and owner of JWH Millinery, a 123-reg customer, commented: “In the last week I’ve saved £140 and more than 5 hours per week by using Skype for Business instead of having to travel to visit customers in person. It means I can see more customers and still provide a personal service. My business is very visual, and by using video conferencing, I can show my products and get honest, instant feedback from customers. As a small business, these time and money saving opportunities will make a real impact on my ability to boost productivity and increase profits.”



YouGov Plc survey

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1057 Decision makers of businesses with 1 or 2 employees (including owner). Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th January – 3rd February 2016. The survey was carried out online.


UK Government Business Population Estimates 2015

There are 4.233m businesses with no or 1 employee, turning over £264bn per year. These numbers equate to £24 per hour, resulting in a return of £9bn by giving microbusinesses back five hours a week. Source:


[1] Figure calculated based on UK Government Business Population Estimates 2015. Breakdown provided below.

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