Let’s face it, we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Flexible working and productivity are compatible, a match made in heaven. When we surveyed workers 79% believe working flexibly would make them more productive. The modern workforce is demanding flexible working and the notions of working nine-to-five being the recipe for productivity are dying out (cya). It’s all well and good us telling you that flexible working aids productivity, but how exactly? We’ve got not one, not two but three ways flexible working can benefit your workforce (lucky you).

Happiness inspires productivity

Flexible working is a great way to create a happier workforce. A survey of 1,564 UK employees found that a third listed flexible working as one of the biggest source of happiness, only falling short to salary. If flexible working is linked to employee happiness, how does happiness aid productivity? A meta-analysis (exciting stuff) of 339 independent studies found that higher employee wellbeing is associated with higher productivity and firm performance[1].

So how does flexible working help create a chirpier workforce? A lot of it can be put down to creating a better work life balance. By providing your employees with opportunities to look after their families, avoid the commute one day a week, allow them to come in an hour earlier and leave an hour earlier, you’re improving their mental well-being. They’re able to work when they feel most productive and this will lead to a happier, more trusting and less stressed company.

Money in motivation

A report carried out by HSBC looked at the tech sector, the most productive in the UK, and found that nine-out-of-ten workers said flexible working motivates them to be more productive at work[2]. A big grumble in the working world is that flexible working equals slacking. If you give people, the opportunity to work when they want then they simply won’t work. Although, what is largely ignored is that offering flexible working is ultimately a sign of trust. Trusting your staff will motivate them to get the job done, creating increased morale and hopefully increased revenue.

With meeting tech today there’s no excuse for your staff not to be motivated and productive away from the office. You’ve heard us drone on about the benefits of audio and video conferencing tech. One more time for luck. The tech really does make meetings between dispersed employees simples (it’s now in the dictionary). A staff member can now be just as effective from their living room as they can from their desk and can also pick the kids up from school.

Attract the best talent

Our survey found that 81% of people believe that flexible working would make a job more attractive to them. By being a company that embraces flexible working you are casting your recruiting net far and wide! Not only will your current employees be more likely to stay at your company, reducing staff turnover but you also don’t have to restrict your search. You can look at hiring remote workers if you wish, having teams across the globe (how exciting). Offer flexible working and watch the CVs flood in, allowing you to single out only the best and most productive workers!

Flexi is the bestie

The nine-to-five is no longer the accepted solution for peak productivity. Flexible working is vital for job satisfaction with 69% of employees in London who work flexibly being satisfied or very satisfied compared to 52% who don’t[3]. Job satisfaction brings heaps of benefits, higher engagement, more retention, the list goes on. A world that works flexibly is the future, so it’s time to embrace it!

[1] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/07/happy-employees-and-their-impact-on-firm-performance/

[2] https://www.cbronline.com/opinion/race-productivity-flexible-working-beats-pay

[3] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/why-bosses-should-offer-more-flexible-working-a6989371.html

The imminent implementation of 5G and relentless tech advancements forebode (sounds ominous) some very exciting times ahead for online meetings. So, here at PowWowNow we are dusting off our crystal ball and exploring what the future holds. Is anyone going to bother coming into the office anymore? Are workplaces going to become completely digital? Is everything going to be done through a virtual reality (VR) headset as computer monitors become obsolete? These are the types of questions we know (think) you want answering, so here goes, the future of web meetings.

The power in 5G

We’ve previously written about the impact 5G will have on office communications but what does it mean specifically for online meetings? What it boils down to is faster network speeds. This lightning fast connection will greatly increase the efficiency of VoIP and video. We’re aware that one of the biggest current gripes with online meetings is connectivity. With 5G you can say adios to lag, even in high density areas such as airports and city centres. You’ll be able to have productive online meetings wherever you happen to be.

Say hi to AI

There’s been lots of buzz about artificial intelligence (AI) for a while now but how exactly can it be used in meetings? AI is already utilised in some online meeting software, an example being voice-to-text transcription. But how will it affect future meetings? Well, we can expect AI to add a host of extra benefits to online meetings. These benefits include using an AI assistant to create a “top-line meeting summary from the notes it’s taken, and then deliver those summaries to meeting participants. Using natural language processing, the assistant could also contribute to the meeting, perhaps by creating charts to illustrate data being discussed, or proactively accessing and sharing historical data relevant to the discussion”[1] (AI, you show off).

As AI develops further, we will see predictive AI, that seems to work one step ahead of us. Meeting prep will be left in the past as AI will be able to select the most relevant content based on what you hope to achieve from the meeting. In all fairness this doesn’t concern the actual online meeting experience but thought we’d throw it in anyway as it’s darn cool!

Blurring reality

Sounds scary right? Well hold your horses, it’s more fascinating than scary. The proper term is mixed reality, which combines augmented reality (AR) and VR. It’s described as the merging of real worlds with virtual ones, where physical and digital objects co-exist[2]. This tech has the potential to bring remote working to a whole new level. In today’s online meetings, you can use video to simulate a face-to-face experience. With mixed reality remote teams will be able to enter a part virtual environment from wherever. Office workers and remote workers will essentially be in the same environment, making collaboration seamless and efficient.

If this sort of tech sounds like just another fad (3D televisions, cough, cough), recent research suggests otherwise. It found that the immersive technology sector is growing rapidly and in the UK in 2018, generated £660 million in sales. You can already purchase headsets that use AR and VR technology, but the tech is still considered to be in its early stages. As the tech improves, we’ll certainly see it adopted by businesses looking to cater to increasingly tech savvy workforces.

Exciting times ahead

All these advancements in online meetings will hopefully bolster productivity and help get rid of geographical barriers. If implemented correctly these changes will enhance collaboration for remote teams across the globe.

Let’s just hope we don’t get too carried away and completely forget about the face-to-face meeting!

[1] https://www.comparethecloud.net/articles/video-conferencing-in-the-era-of-ai/

[2] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/324391

Have you ever been in the scenario when you join a meeting and woah, the first thing you’re greeted with is your own, rather wild looking face? This can be unexpected but ultimately nothing to fear (even if you’re a little camera shy). A recent survey we carried out looked at webcam attitudes and found that 45.5% of us said webcam made them feel self-conscious. What a shame as there are many benefits of including video in your meetings. Here are a few tips to help you tackle your fears head on and start embracing video (you won’t regret it).

A warm smile is the universal language of kindness

A quote from William Arthur Ward, (classy). Where video trumps a phone call is that you’re able to humanise the interaction immediately. Showing your emotions, whatever they may be, is much easier over video than trying to convey them over the telephone. To ease the nerves, try to maintain a certain degree of eye contact with the other people in the meeting. This will mean you stop focusing on your own digital reflection and it becomes more like a genuine face-to-face interaction.

Practice makes perfect

Like anything in life, the more you do something the less scary it becomes. The same can be said with video. There’s absolutely no harm in turning the webcam on when you’re alone. Sure, it may seem weird, but it will make you more comfortable with how you look on camera. We’re not suggesting you have full blown conversations with yourself (unless that’s your thing), rather just testing your webcam, lighting, posture etc before the meeting. This will prevent any initial shock when the meeting begins and ensure you’re ready to have a productive meeting from the get-go.

You’re not alone

As stated, our survey found that video makes a lot of people feel self-conscious. We doubt you’re the only person in the meeting who isn’t thrilled to be on video. Take comfort in the fact that you’re often your own worst critic. If you’re thinking ‘wow I have big nostrils’, it’s likely you’re the only person thinking that. The less you worry about how you look on video, the more involved you can get in the meeting. Accept that you’re not the only one who’s self-conscious and shift your attention towards whoever else is in the meeting.

Dress to impress

Okay that heading is slightly misleading. It doesn’t mean getting out your finest suit or dress every time you appear on video. All we’re saying is make sure that whatever your wearing is presentable. Sitting there in your dressing gown or towel may be comfortable but you may feel slightly embarrassed when the webcam is turned on.  Feeling embarrassed is only going to intensify your fear of video, so just avoid this situation. Simply dress how you would when you’re in the office, this will make it feel more like a regular meeting, helping you feel more relaxed and engaged.

Farewell video fear (good riddance)

Okay, we can’t promise that by following these tips you’ll relish in viewing your mug on camera. But we can promise it’s a start and that they won’t make your fear any worse. So, what are you waiting for? Lights, camera, action!

Have you ever sat on a conference call and thought ‘what on earth are you talking about?’ If you’ve answered yes to this question, then screen share could be your savior! It’s a handy feature that allows you to view whatever your fellow colleague is viewing. It often leads to more productive meetings as it helps clear up any potential miscommunication that may happen over the phone and ensures everyone is on the same page. Here are some potential scenarios where showing your screen can inject new life into your meetings.

Reassuring remote working

There are no signs of remote working slowing up. In fact, a third of business owners think 50% of their workforce will work remotely by 2020[1] (wowza). With remote working on the up and up, it’s vital that meeting solution software caters for this rise. Presenting documents and showing your screen are the cream of the crop when it comes to conferencing features. If you’ve got a dispersed workforce, then effective collaboration becomes more difficult. With screen share and present document this becomes a little less tricky as you and your colleagues are all able to annotate on one document. Getting instant feedback on a piece of work that otherwise may take significantly longer over email.

Visual vitality

Showing your screen when your work involves a visual element is a simple way to demonstrate the value of your work. Trying to explain over the phone a vibrant new ad campaign you’ve been dedicated to for the last month just doesn’t cut it. You want to show it off visually as that is exactly how your target audience will be viewing it. It’s also a great way to illustrate the progression of your work and the thought processes behind it. A picture is worth a thousand words as they say, aye!

Prospering in productivity

A recent survey found some alarming results when it comes to meetings. The study states that unproductive meetings are costing UK businesses around £191 billion a year[2]. Any tool that can increase productivity should be treasured (or at least considered). By sharing your screen you’re able to run the meeting exactly as you see fit, helping keep the meeting on track. Lots of meetings end up being unproductive because they fail to stay on topic. Before you know it, you’ve all just wasted an hour discussing something completely unrelated, having to book a follow up meeting for next week to discuss what was originally planned (we feel your pain). By presenting a document or sharing your screen, you set out clear guidelines on the meeting objectives.

Show them what you’ve got

No one wants to waste time, to quote good old William Penn, “time is what we want most, but…what we use worse.” Prove Mr Penn wrong and share your screen. It will end up being a win, win for everyone involved and help you rise your meeting game to the next level.

[1] https://www.oddsmonkey.com/blog/news-events/a-third-of-business-owners-think-50-of-their-workforce-will-work-remotely-by-2020/

[2] http://www.facilitatemagazine.com/news/unnecessary-meetings-cost-191bn-a-year/#targetText=A%20survey%20of%201%2C000%20office,%C2%A3191%20billion%20a%20year.

The modern world has gone crazy for apps. There now seems to be an app for pretty much everything, from logical food and recipe apps to the downright bizarre pimple popper and milk the cow apps (promise they’re real). With smartphones basically becoming an extension of ourselves, apps have become an integral part of daily life. That’s why it makes perfect sense to also have apps that improve your work life, specifically (you got it) conference call apps. Here are 3 ways a conference call app will improve your meetings.

On the go, yo!

Nowadays meetings no longer need to happen in the office in order to be productive. Many people are often working outside the office. That’s where a mobile app comes in handy, it’s your best friend when you need to make calls on the go! Many apps will allow you to join a conference call instantly, like ours where you can join a call with one click, without having to enter a dial-in number or PIN (shameless plug, sorry not sorry). Great for those days spent commuting visiting different offices or mingling with clients, basically whenever you find yourself away from the office.

Scheduling made simple

If you’ve ever made a conference call you’ve probably experienced the classic ‘how do I join the meeting?’, ‘where do I find the dial-in details?’. This often does no wonders for your nerves (if you have any) and can make the conference call experience that teeny bit more hassle than it need be. An app addresses this problem head on! With our app you can send out an invite via SMS and arrange an immediate call. The SMS will display the dial-in details and PIN number your Guests need to enter. Super handy for your mobile workforce who may only have access to their smartphone. An app will make it easier than ever to schedule that all important call and for your colleagues to join wherever, whenever!

Manage those numbers

Numbers can be confusing, especially when you’re a globetrotter within the calling world. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish exactly what number your international callers should be dialing into. That’s why with our app we’ve put all this information into one easily manageable section. You can manage your available number types and simply add any international dial-in numbers you may need for clients in all corners of the globe. This makes it much easier for your international pals to dial in to your call without having to faff about trying to find the correct number to use. Letting you get down to the nitty gritty and have only the most productive meetings.

If you aren’t making many international calls but do just want an easy way to remember your call details, you can download a digital wallet card. This will save all you details as a contact, having them all in one easy to find place, handy we know.

Get appy

So, there you go, our 3 ways an app can help you improve your meetings. We won’t keep you any longer as we know you’re probably just itching to get the app on your phone and start making calls immediately (we hope)!

If you’ve ever found yourself sitting at home, it’s 3 o clock and you’ve yet to shower or change out of your PJs, you’ve snacked your way through the day and productivity is at an all time low. Those are just a few potential remote working woes. It can be difficult sometimes to get yourself motivated when working remotely. You’re away from the office and face-to-face interaction with colleagues isn’t possible, potentially making you feel disconnected from the larger team. One solution to ensure you can easily stay in the loop are web meetings, a platform built for remote meetings (wehey). Here are 5 reasons why remote meetings are the answer to your remote working woes!

Stay connected

Communication with colleagues when working remotely is a significant woe. An obvious benefit of working in the office is that you’re in a social situation (all be it work social). You’re able to easily talk to co-workers over a coffee break and update them with progress on a project, potential concerns, or whatever it may be. When working remotely you’re often on your own and feelings of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) can begin to creep in.

Use remote meetings to alleviate those potential FOMO moments. With video included it’s the closest you’ll get to face-to-face. You can use remote meetings to have a one-on-one catch up with your best work pal or group meetings to update everyone on your progress. Point being, if you utilise the tech you can feel truly part of the larger (office) team wherever you may be. Just make sure when the video is on, you’re presentable and haven’t got remnants of your latest snack all over you (beware of toast).

Propel productivity!

Working remotely is full of distractions that you don’t find in the office. If you’re working from home you will probably have free reign over the kitchen, experimenting with all sorts of food concoctions (yoghurt crisps, why not?) You also have free reign over the internet, and we know the internet is just rife with distractions. So how can remote meetings be used to help banish distractions and improve remote working productivity?

Distractions and poor time management directly correlate with one another. You get distracted, then sit there thinking darn, where did all the time go? Scheduling regular web meetings can certainly help with time management and planning your day. Make us of online agendas to ensure your meetings stay on track and aren’t speeding towards unproductivity. It will give you something to work towards, knowing that your colleagues are expecting you to provide updates. Less procrastination, more productivity!

Sharing is caring

Sometimes when working remotely, a woe is relying on a phone call or email to communicate your message. This is particularly apparent if you’re working on a visual project, which is difficult to sum up in words. Sure, you could attach the project to an email and go through every detail on the phone but that just seems like hard work. A hassle-free solution is using screen share or present document during a remote meeting.

Screen sharing allows you and your work buddies to easily collaborate. You’re able to show them exactly what you’re working on and get instant feedback. The same can be said for present document, which they can annotate, without having to patiently wait half a week for an email response. This means less dawdling around and more getting on with your tasks at hand (well done).

Eager and engaged

We’ve all had our fair few of meetings where let’s just say, little progress is made. This is even worse when you’re working remotely because there’s less opportunity to make up that progress with more productive face-to-face interactions. That’s why video can be your best friend. Results from our 2019 flexible working survey found that 64% of respondents believed video allowed them to stay more focused in meetings. No more dilly dallying in meetings, use video, so every meeting is super engaging!

Record and reevaluate

If you’re working remotely, you’re going to want to make sure you’re a remote meeting pro to dazzle fellow colleagues or clients. With our recording feature you can easily access all your past meetings and critique yourself (FUN). What went well, what didn’t. Once you get over the sound of your own voice, you can really begin to nail this whole online meeting thing. This will help you impress all the office folk and demonstrate how you boss remote working!

Rejoice in remote

Remote working comes with a fair few woes. But before we get to down in the dumps, the flexibility and freedom it provides is something to be treasured (too cheesy?) With remote meetings you can avoid the long commute and that person who is tucking into their leftover mackerel (specific) or whatever other smelly food you can think of. Make the most of online meetings and rejoice in remote working!

Managing long-distance relationships can be hard whether personal or professional. Luckily tech has swooped in and saved the day (woo tech!). With modern day meeting solutions such as video conferencing, you can have a chat with your clients wherever they may be. We’ve said it before, and you bet we’ll say it again! Video meetings are the closest you can get to being face-to-face without being face-to-face. Nevertheless, there is still a certain decorum that comes with video meetings just like a real-world meeting. You’re in for a treat with our top tips on how to best manage long-distance client relationships with video calling.

There’s beauty in video

No, we’re not just referring to having your lovely face on camera. We’re talking about how video meetings foster greater client relations than a simple email or phone call. Everyone likes to put a face to a name, something that’s simply not possible when you’re all gathered around a spider phone (those funny looking ones in meeting rooms – yup, they have a name). This is particularly important if you’re in the early stages of a relationship with a client, you want to put a face to a name ASAP, helping you form a trusting and beneficial relationship.

Sure, this can be achieved over the phone, but it’s more instantaneous with video. You’re humanising the conversation, all your quirky charms and quips that may fall flat over the phone are suddenly an instant hit (we hope!). Forbes found that over half of all message interpretation comes from body language and facial expressions[1] proving how much value video can bring to your client meetings. So, use video to get off on the right foot, and spend less time worrying about ‘did that come across as rude?’ or ‘did they get that joke?’ over email or phone (you get the point).

Insightful interactions

A sure-fire way to damage client relations is by wasting their time. Recent (slightly worrying) statistics showed that 37% of meetings are considered by employees to be unproductive, 91% of employees have daydreamed during a meeting (easily done, tbf) and 47% complained that meetings are the number one timewaster at the workplace[2]. Where are we going with this you may be thinking? Well, we are stating this as proof that you want to make your meetings as engaging and productive as possible by adding video.

Just because we say video improves productivity doesn’t make it so, so here’s some proof. Our 2019 survey looking at UK and US attitudes surrounding video meetings found that 50% of UK and 55% of US respondents said that using webcams increases engagement. Our 2019 flexible working survey found further proof bigging up video. 64% of respondents believed video allowed them to stay more focused in online meetings. Remember, it’s harder to hide on video, people can literally see that you’re multitasking because they are watching you hammer at your keyboard. When you’re on video you are much more likely to give your full attention and spend less time playing catch up.

Freedom in flexibility

Video makes distance less of a factor – very important with the rise of remote and flexible working. Back to our 2019 flexible working survey. 81% of people believe flexible working would make a job more attractive to them and 79% of people believe flexible working would make them more productive. Adopting video conferencing is an easy way to show that you believe in the benefits of flexible working. Your clients don’t have to trek into your office for that all-important meeting and you can check in more frequently, so everyone is up to date with the latest shenanigans (win, win).

Every client is unique, and some might insist on face-to-face meetings. Or you may have clients on the other side of the world, where face-to-face simply isn’t viable. Either way, by adopting video conferencing, you are one step closer to being prepared to meet all your client’s needs, giving them the freedom to interact with you how they best see fit.

They lived happily ever after

You and your clients that is. If you take full advantage of video conferencing and use it in an effective and efficient manner your client relations will go from strength to strength. Interacting with your clients using video displays the value you place on the relationship. We hope you find these tips useful and that we have illustrated how video can be utilised to both manage and bolster client relationships. Yours faithfully, PowWowNow.

[1] https://www.techshout.com/internet/2019/18/improving-client-relationships-with-video-conferencing-solutions/

[2] https://www.cleverism.com/time-spent-in-meetings/

First port of call, what is a unified communications system? Who doesn’t love a bit of context? A unified communications system is a unified communications system (just teasing). It’s a system that combines multiple communication channels, to create one holistic, bada$$ business channel that includes various platforms. Often the system will include instant messaging, voice, email, SMS and the star of the show – video calls.

So how does video fit into the infrastructure of a unified communications system? What role does it play? How does it rank in the pecking order? Does it truly belong? These riveting questions will all be answered in this post, so stay tuned.

The rock ‘n’ role of video (see what we did there?!)

If any of the platforms that comprise a unified communications system were rock n roll (they’re not btw), it would be video. It requires the most energy from people who are using it, it’s in your face (literally). Video is used when you want to get stuff done, it encourages productivity and engagement.

Don’t just take our word for it. In a survey of almost 5,000 users, 94% said it increased efficiency and productivity, 88% said it increased impact of discussions and 87% said it expedited decision-making[1]. Video plays a pivotal role in the unified communication ecosystem, often saved for the occasions where you need to make an important decision or simply a great first impression. If you wanted even more exciting stats around video, according to a recent survey we carried out, 61% of UK and 72% of US respondents believed webcams in online meetings will increase in the future.

And with a host of other features such as screen share, online chat, present document and more, now is the time to jump on the bandwagon. Video platforms aren’t just a one hit wonder, they’re here to stay with endless tricks up their sleeve (will slow down on the personification).

Pecking order rankings (meeting solutions edition)

  1. Conference call
  2. Video conferencing
  3. Instant workplace messaging
  4. Cloud phone system
  5. Webinars
  6. Email
  7. SMS
  8. And the rest

As you can see from our definitive meeting solution rankings, video conferencing is way up there in terms of productivity, (disclaimer: this is opinion, not fact). Conference calling is still taking the crown as according to the same survey mentioned above, it looks like some of us brits are not yet ready to fully embrace video (boo)! 32% of UK respondents said that they only used video if they were asked, and 46% said using webcam makes them self-conscious.

On a more positive note, the future of video conferencing looks bright. The imminent arrival of 5G and developments in virtual reality (VR) will bring several techy, blow your mind innovations. 5G will bring better speed and bandwidth, improved quality, increased mobility and holographic conferencing capabilities. To discover more about what these changes will mean for video conferencing click here. It looks like video could potentially move up in the pecking order and rule the roost, roost being unified communication systems (just to be clear).

Does it belong?

Hell, yeah it does! Video is a key player in the word of unified communication systems and is as close as you can get to a face-to-face meeting without being, well, face-to-face. Don’t underestimate the power of putting a face to a name, creating a more open and effective communication channel. As tech advancements show no sign in slowing down, the platform will only improve leaps and bounds. If you’re looking to adopt a more unified approach, video should be high on your list.

[1] https://www.viewsonic.com/library/business/business-benefits-of-video-conferencing#targetText=Greater%20knowledge%20of%20the%20benefits,Better%20business%20relationships

In order to need something, it’s probably best to understand what it is you need. A webinar can be summed up as a platform that allows you or your company to host large-scale events. The reason for choosing this software varies company from company but we thought we’d highlight our top reasons for adopting the software and how it can work wonders for your business (drum roll please).

Leads, leads and more leads!

Let’s get straight to it shall we? This software is a fantastic platform for generating top quality leads. Please elaborate we hear you shouting. With features such as custom registration, pre and post event surveys you can make sure you’re only targeting the best leads. No more wasting time for your sales team, who are following up with consumers who have no interest in what you have to offer. It also provides a fantastic opportunity for your marketing team to develop specific targeting strategies based on the leads being generated. If you continue to utilise the platform in an effective manner, you’ll have so many leads you’ll be all tangled (get it?).

Feedback – because the customer is always right, right?

Not always but most of the time. The point is this software provides an invaluable opportunity to hear directly from your consumers. Q&As and polls help you better understand how your audience feel about the content you are showcasing. Don’t feel to downtrodden if there is constructive criticism, this will only help you improve for next time (found the silver lining). One report found that 92% of attendees want a live question and answer session at the end of an online event[1]. Why have we included this stat? Well it shows that customers are more than willing to interact with the platform, more importantly willing to interact with your brand. The platform is ideal for mass interaction on all manors of things, helping you better define your target audience and ferreting out your most valuable customers.

Brains and beauty

As a company you can have both, a gorgeous brand and valuable insights. The platform provides an affordable way to get your brand out there, rather than shelling out tones of cash on expensive marketing and brand campaigns. Your audience don’t want to see you constantly shoving products in their faces, all buy, buy, buy. They want to also trust you as a brand, feeling reassured that you know your market and your positioned as a thought leader. With this software you can make that happen. Use the platform as an opportunity to share your insights with the world, consumers are much more likely to appreciate you as a brand if you offer some words of wisdom! This can be anything that as a company you feel particularly passionate about, just make sure you have expertise in the area, to avoid any ramblings. If you continue to hold online events that provide value for your audience, then they in turn are more likely to provide value for your business (a no brainer).

Endless possibilities

So, there you have it, our top 3 reasons why you should adopt this software. There are many more reasons but if we were to go through them all, this post would be significantly longer, and we understand your time is precious. We’ve tried to keep our content concise and valuable, like how you should approach your online events. Peace out.

[1] https://medium.com/@BigMarker/12-webinar-statistics-you-need-to-know-b3e28b275abe

Starting and maintaining a business is no easy task, even if you’re convinced it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Anyone who manages to get a business off the ground deserves a huge pat on the back, but the start is often the easiest part. It’s the pesky growth stage that seems to cause the most nuisance. With the uncertainty clouding Brexit and what will happen when and if it ever happens, means the trials that businesses face at the best of times are only intensified. We’re going to give a quick run down of the main challenges stunting the growth of SMEs and hopefully provide some solutions to overcome them (every cloud aye).

Strapped for cash

Here at PowWowNow we have a knack for stating the obvious, so here goes. No business will achieve growth without receiving some form of funding or a steady stream of revenue (mind blowing, we know). As a small to medium business, particularly one that is young, revenue and funding aren’t always readily available. Research from 2018 found that over half of UK businesses are unable to access the funding required to grow[1]. So, what can you do as an SME to help clear this hurdle and ensure that your company goes from strength to strength?

Well as with most things in life, there isn’t one definitive answer (that would be too easy). The most important solution and potentially the simplest is just to do your research. There are plenty of funding opportunities out there, some providing not only a financial helping hand but also strategies on the best ways for your company to achieve growth. You may need to seek alternatives to the major banks, who often required a proven track record of money making before providing a loan. Point being that educate yourself on the options out there before making any haste decisions, potentially finding yourself in financial hot water. For a more comprehensive list of funding options for SMEs click here.

Get your tech hat on

With the rapid advancements in technology it’s possible to be left in the dust, covered thinking what just happened? That’s why as an SME it’s crucial to keep up with the digital trends. A recent survey found that one in ten SMEs haven’t invested in any new technology at all in the past 12 months. A slow up in innovation goes hand in hand with a slow up in growth. Having and investing in the latest tech makes it easier for your employees to work smarter and more efficiently. With the tech industry bursting at the seams with competition as well, then you should be able to affordably keep up.

With tech such as conference calling, webinars and video calls you can unite your workforce on the move. This has many perks, particularly for SMEs who may be short on cash to accommodate a space for the entire workforce. A study found that between 53% and 60% of SMEs said that new technology solutions have enabled them to begin/revise their workflow and processes to streamline operations and improve productivity[2]. As an SME you need to be as efficient as possible when trying to grow as realistically you often don’t have as many resources as the bigger players. But if you’re adopting the latest tech than the gap narrows somewhat, and you create a more level playing field as you can achieve much more with limited resources.

Who’s got talent?

Another challenge that isn’t an exclusive annoyance for SMEs but may be more of a challenge is recruiting the right talent. The advantage larger businesses have over smaller businesses on this front is that their name alone usually attracts talent, so they don’t have to put in as much effort seeking it out. Research carried out by The Telegraph found London to be the “only region where the number of SMEs finding it easy to recruit skilled staff outweighed those that found it difficult”[3] (crikey). What can SMEs that find themselves outside of the bustling bubble that is London do to attract the best talent?

Our first humble piece of advice is a term that you may have heard before if you’ve read any of our other blogs. Wait for it…that’s right…you guessed it…flexible working. Introducing and promoting flexible working can be an effective way to attract the best talent, regardless of location. More people want the option to work flexibly so why not give them what they want? To further illustrate this point, check out our 2019 flexible working survey here.

There are other steps you can take that helps your business secure tip top talent. You should take a leaf from the big dog’s book and develop a brand that people want to become a part of. This may seem difficult as brand awareness often means a hefty injection of cash flow but there are other ways you can develop you brand without having to spend tones of cash. Focus on your culture and have this become synonymous with your brand. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth, if you treat your employees well and have strong company values in place then your employees will sing your praises (no need for bribes). To learn more about the power of a happy workforce, check out our post.

Two’s company, three’s a crowd

As they say. In case you didn’t gather, we’re talking about competition. Unless your business is completely and utterly unique, which unfortunately is very rare you’re bound to have some competition. So, in often very crowded markets, how can you make your business stand out?

Going back to our earlier point, creating a culture with a strong identity is one way. You can use company culture to stand out internally, but I hear you asking how can I make my company stand out to consumers? Again, there isn’t a definitive answer but there are numerous options. It’s incredibly important to know the market you’re in inside out. This means lots of competitor research (play fair) so you can best understand how to market yourself as a brand, so that you shine amongst the crowd. It could be developing a certain tone of voice that separates your brand or having the best product (easier said than done). Whatever it is, just make sure it’s unique.

Challenges are made to be overcome

In 2016 UK SMEs accounted for 99.3% of all private sector business. They are the lifeline of our national economy. We at PowWowNow certainly wouldn’t survive without them. We hope this post has raised some important challenges that we all face and provides viable options on how to overcome them. PowWowNow, over and out!

[1] https://smallbusiness.co.uk/smes-unable-access-funding-2542893/

[2] https://www.whistl.co.uk/news/how-should-smes-use-technology-to-grow

[3] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/challenges/sme-key-challenges-2019/