Responding to the impact of the pandemic on the startup and SME community, Amazon created the Amazon Small Business Accelerator with Enterprise Nation, to help businesses of all size by providing a free package of support, online learning and bootcamp events to help them start and grow online. The Amazon Small Business Accelerator continues to provide support through the rest of 2021 with a rich calendar of free training and activities.
New research commissioned by Amazon indicates that 81% of UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) invested in digital skills over the past year. Meanwhile, three in four (78%) SMEs say they would value free training and skills to support their growth.
The research also showed two-thirds of SMEs in the UK are generating at least 10% of their turnover from exports. Of these businesses who export, 42% are reaching customers in the USA, and a further one-in-eight SMEs say they want to start exporting there. The same proportion are keen to start exporting to Canada and Australia. However, more than half of SMEs (55%) say they do not know where to go for resources to help them start or increase exporting.
In line with demand for help in exporting, hundreds of startups and small businesses signed up to join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator’s latest event focused on exporting, held last week in partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT). The one-day bootcamp included sessions on selling globally, key considerations for exporting, cross-border VAT and marketing strategies.
Further bootcamps aimed at exporting will be held locally in London and Scotland in October 2021. Other upcoming bootcamps are focused on Young Entrepreneurs (7 September), Sustainability (21 September) and Rural Businesses (16 November), to support startups and small businesses with free, hands-on practical and accessible expert advice.
“A year on from launching the Amazon Small Business Accelerator it is heartening to look back on the resilience, adaptability and innovation that continues to power the UK’s community of startups and small businesses. Having surpassed our initial goal of supporting more than 200,000 businesses, we’re still seeing a steady stream of entrepreneurs armed with new ideas, ready to tap into the training, tools and resources that we provide to all small businesses for free through the Amazon Small Business Accelerator. The past year has shown that building digital skills can lead to better business resilience, and we are proud to play some part in helping UK small business owners and entrepreneurs unlock opportunities at home and abroad.”
– John Boumphrey, UK Country Manager, Amazon
“We’ve been talking for years about the massive role that digital tech can play for upsizing small businesses, but the pandemic put that into laser focus. For sole traders – who account for more than two-thirds of those who have used the Amazon Small Business Accelerator – having the right know-how at their fingertips is clearly crucial. Following a year of adapting, online skills are now considered ‘vital’ to business operations, according to two-fifths of the Amazon Small Business Accelerator participants we polled. It is especially encouraging that against a challenging backdrop, founders are seizing the opportunity to bolster their resilience and access free business resources such as the Amazon Small Business Accelerator, and then consider investing further in digital skills and technology in the year ahead.”
– Emma Jones CBE, Founder of Enterprise Nation
This year, Enterprise Nation conducted analysis[ of 11,000 startups and small businesses who responded to a survey when signing up to the Amazon Small Business Accelerator, which found:
- Only one-quarter of Amazon Small Business Accelerator participants were independent businesses selling on Amazon
- Many participating business leaders reported feeling “novice” in fundamental business skills including accounting (42%), social media (30%), and exporting (78%) when they signed up for the programme
- The lack of exporting know-how was felt most acutely amongst startups (91%) and businesses looking to grow (72%), but also for more than half (54%) of the more established SME participants
- Almost half (49%) of startups relied on family and friends and a third (31%) of more established SMEs said family and friends were a key source of business advice
- The majority of participants (62%) are working solo and just under a quarter (23%) had between two and five employees.
Success Stories from the Amazon Small Business Accelerator
As the pandemic hit, Liz Barnes, Founder of FreshWipes, saw an unexpected uplift in sales for her antibacterial, biodegradable and no-rinse body wipes as customers started buying more hygiene products. She has recently discovered a new market after a professional wheelchair tennis player reached out to her and called the wipes a “God-send”. FreshWipes now provides body wipes for disabled and older people who can’t easily access a shower or bath. “The loosening of restrictions has been what we have all been wanting since the pandemic began, but it has also meant that my business has had to adapt again,” Liz Barnes commented. “The Amazon Small Business Accelerator bootcamp provided me with excellent tips on how to maximise the return on my advertising budget and helped me to reach new customers much more cost-effectively. I would absolutely recommend the Amazon Small Business Accelerator to others looking to grow and develop their business.”
Meanwhile, entrepreneur Kate Bolland turned a life-long love for dogs into a new business and used the Amazon Small Business Accelerator to pivot just weeks into starting her new venture as lockdown came into force. “Having left my full-time job in marketing to setup my own canine-assisted employee wellbeing business, I found that my original business plan, which was based on in-person events in the workplace, had been scuppered,” said Kate Bolland, Founder of Moment to Paws. “I needed to act quickly to make sure my passion project could actually work through Covid and into the long term. Thankfully, I found the Amazon Small Business Accelerator, which proved invaluable in helping me to pivot online. The online learning content was really helpful as it was tailored to my exact needs. The inspiration and connections the programme provided me with have helped me pursue my dreams and make them viable.”
The Amazon Small Business Accelerator is open to startups and small businesses of any size. Entrepreneurs can learn more and register here. Details of the “Exporting – Building Back Better” bootcamp, in partnership with the Department for International Trade, held last week are available here.