My ambition is for all businesses and individuals to have digital skills so they can connect and create a profile that they feel in control of and adds value to their whole life.
This vision started in 1998 when I founded the online networking community Ecademy with my husband Thomas Power. Its sole purpose was to serve the growing needs of entrepreneurs to be connected and learn how to build their profiles in the global, digital economy. We served and loved this community for 14 years until we exited in 2013 in order to work on new projects.
As a result of experiences I had with many of the Business Support Networks that support Micro and Small businesses I became concerned by the lack of time and investment to assist the non-digital companies adapt to the digital economy I wrote the Manifesto for Digital Business Britain. This manifesto is now supported by a Not for Profit called Digital Business Britain that I Chair, offering local support to the Digital Skills agenda working with Local Government and Councils that care about Digital Inclusion.
The manifesto pledges a commitment to easing the barriers held within businesses towards the effective execution and exploitation of Social Media and digital transformation. The first part of my journey to help business bring the skills they need was to create a set of qualifications and employment route for our Born Digital youths. Digital Youth Academy (DYA) was launched at The House of Lords in October 2012 and introduced innovative Born Digital Youths to work for inspiring businesses with a number of qualifications and employable skills. We work with over 15 Delivery Partners across the UK to bring this to local companies.
Since selling Ecademy I have missed a community and a place to feel that sense of belonging. I am now brining to market a new concept called The Business Cafe. A physical Cafe on the High Street within Town Centres that provides a social, spontaneous and loving environment for the UK's Micro Businesses and Sole Traders.
Additional commitments to this agenda are as follows
Through supporting small business, I also witnessed the benefit of 1-2-1 and peer-to-peer mentoring in order to share knowledge and experiences and was thrilled to be asked to be an Ambassador for the Get Mentoring Campaign driven by the team at the Business Innovation and Skills Department. I now sits on a number of advisory boards which include BIS, Surrey Connects, NACUE, The Gazelle Group and when asked I help globally with the UK Trade & Investment to promote UK excellence internationally.
It is amazing that 95.5% of our UK companies employ less that 9 people. What an incredible tribute to the entrepreneurial mindset we have and the fact that the Internet has enabled this.
However, 30% of small businesses and 56% of Charities do not have a website. An incredible thought. It is a known fact that being found on Google and holding a website improves a company's opportunity for growth by 4 times.
I believe that our youths are a way of fueling the economy and helping every company in the UK become a 'digitally thinking' company. My proudest days are those when we hear that another young person has found employment inside a small company to help them grow through building them a website through to helping them build their followers and manage their SEO.
I am a mother of 3 children, who are all entering the workplace and I feel the stress and concerns of many parents. Yet, as business owners, too few care enough to take a leap of faith and bring them into their company. Fearing the commitment and time to bring them up to a level where they can add value. Our case studies show that the Social Digital Apprentices are adding value within 2 months and our employers say that this recruitment has been a huge contribution to their company.