Dragons’ Den veteran Doug Richard has warned this year will be among the toughest environments ever known for small businesses – but urged entrepreneurs to get online to boost sales.
The investor, who brought his Web Fuelled Business bootcamp to Birmingham this week, gave a stark assessment of the marketplace for young entrepreneurs, as youth unemployment reached a new record high.
Mr Richard, aged 53, said young businesspeople need to use the internet more to get a foothold in business, and has been holding a series of talks around England about making money online.
The Californian, who featured as an investor in the first two series of Dragons’ Den, said: “2012 is set to be one of the toughest economic environments in recent history.
“Our economy depends on the survival of our small businesses.
“Young businesses are the wealth and job creators that will haul us out of this recession, but in order for them to survive, they must use the internet as their lifeline.
“It gives businesses the potential to become global in just a few clicks.”
The Web Fuelled Business workshop is part of Mr Richard’s School for Startups enterprise, and is supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
According to School for Startups, the efforts to date of small business to get online has translated into creating a simple web page.
Mr Richard believes the internet has the potential to reduce costs, increase sales and exports and increase profitability and employment.