Steven Aldrich, SVP of GoDaddy, says that very small business is the next big thing in the UK, and keynoted at Dublin Web Summit on the future of SMEs in the UK. We spoke to Aldrich to find out more.
TechRadar Pro: How important is it for businesses, large and small, to have a strong online presence?
Steven Aldrich: The reality is, if you're not online, you're invisible – potential customers can't find you and you miss out on the opportunity to create and build your brand's identity. Most consumers start their search for a service or product on the web. Back in the day, you wouldn't open a business in the middle of nowhere, where your customers can't find you. In the 21st Century your customers go online to look for you, so you shouldn't start a business without a virtual presence.
The Internet Matters 2012 report by McKinsey showed that companies using the internet with a high-intensity grow twice as a fast as those with low-web-intensity.
TRP: Why do you think so many micro-businesses (2.5 million is the figure mentioned in your speech) haven't yet taken their business online?
SA: If you've started and run your own business, then you're most likely an incredibly busy person. Chances are you get up very early and go to bed very late, and spend all the time in between working. Most people don't have someone on hand who has a technology or marketing background, which makes them fearful about launching their own website.
With a lack of time and the misguided belief that launching a website takes a lot of effort and money, they put off taking that first step. GoDaddy is simplifying the process. Firstly, we are putting businesses online for just £1. Secondly, we are providing them with local support to help get their website up and running. We want to show businesses that there is nothing to fear.
TRP: What are the biggest challenges businesses face when it comes to building an online presence?
SA: People start their own businesses because of an idea, rather than a burning ambition to build a website. The barriers in the past have been technology that is difficult to use and understand. If you're setting up a website for the first time you want a solution that is customer focused, easy and affordable. With GoDaddy it's easy and affordable to get online today. That means businesses have the freedom to express their uniqueness and personality through a better digital presence.
TRP: What is the future for small business in the UK? What advantages do they have over larger businesses?
SA: Small businesses have speed and passion and urgency. The future is bright for SMBs because they spot opportunities and can move quickly before larger slower businesses can react. 99% of all businesses in the UK are SMEs. We believe the future truly lies with them and want to help them realise their potential.
TRP: How does the recent announcement from GoDaddy help small businesses?
SA: It shows there is a drop dead simple way to create an online presence at an affordable price, period. Surprisingly, around 2.5 million micro-businesses still have no online presence. A lot of people running their own businesses perceive launching a website to be an expensive and time consuming endeavour. We want to show them that it isn't and let them know that we'll be there to support them in creating their digital identity.
TRP: GoDaddy often speaks about shifting the global economy toward small business. Why do you think this is important and what role does GoDaddy have to play?
SA: We need to close the economic gap between startups and enterprises and in doing so create more jobs worldwide. In the UK, for example, SMEs account for 59% of private sector employment. GoDaddy wants to level the online playing field and ensure small business have the tools to successfully compete with their larger rivals.
TRP: You used to work at Outright before GoDaddy purchased the company. What did your time there teach you about the startup community?
SA: In addition to Outright, I have been the CEO and founder of multiple startup businesses. I've applied the speed at which we needed to operate at Outright into execution at GoDaddy. I feel I have a deep understanding of how every small business feels because I've walked that path myself. Another big lesson I learned was how to provide small businesses with the right product. Seeing businesses succeed using the tools we provide them with, is what gets me and my team up every morning.
TRP: What made you want to set up Outright?
SA: There was a gap in the market for providing very small businesses with financial information, digitally. Outright filled that gap and helped SMBs make better financial decisions.
TRP: What are the main differences between working at Outright and at GoDaddy?
SA: GoDaddy has a truly global platform. We have 12 million customers and that allows me to take an idea out to millions overnight. With this massive scale, huge impact is felt much faster.
TRP: What are GoDaddy's aims/goals for 2015?
SA: We will shift the global economy toward small business by empowering people to easily start, confidently grow and successfully run their own ventures.
We are here to help our customers win, by creating simple, elegant technology that makes it easy to build a strong digital identity. All while delivering 24/7 service that is second to none.
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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.