Almost two-thirds (63%) of SMEs lack the digital expertise to build effective online platforms, according to a report by business context network BTube.
The poll of SME businesses and influencers also suggests that a lack of knowledge of overseas trading hampers businesses looking to move into foreign markets.
Nearly half (49%) of business owners admit a lack of experience and expertise of trading overseas is their biggest barrier to building an international profile.
Around one-third (35%) cite concerns around finding new customers as their biggest challenge going into 2015. Despite widespread reporting of a burgeoning skills crisis in the UK, only 22% of respondents picked recruiting and retaining the right staff as the biggest challenge their business faces.
Leading UK entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den panellist Kelly Hoppen commented that even though the marketplace is becoming increasingly global, “that doesn’t mean all markets are the same”.
“Businesses need to take the time to understand the nuances of foreign markets if they wish to take advantage of the fantastic opportunities to tap into new sources of production, distribution and sales,” she added.
“It is no use overcoming the language barrier if you don’t understand the business protocols in the territory you are targeting.”
BTube managing director Peter Cowley warned businesses that they “should not be afraid of trading overseas”. He went on to say that online expertise can be useful when overcoming cross border challenges.
“Digital platforms can help negate many of the traditional barriers to trading overseas, such as language barriers, but if these are not structured properly making them searchable and accessible they become just more online wallpaper,” he continued.
Further reading on digital: To be a digital company, change your core