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Small family businesses in Europe struggle with digital era

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Relatives working at a family-run flower shop
Just 37% of family-run SMEs feel very prepared to operate in a digital economy according to the study | Photo: Amina Filkins

Europe’s small family businesses could be at risk of falling behind competitors as the economy becomes more digital, new research from Mastercard has found.

SMEs as a collective account for 99% of all European enterprises. The majority are family-run, according to the European Parliament, particularly micro businesses with less than 10 employees.

Despite their huge presence, just 37% of family-run SMEs feel very prepared to operate in a digital economy according to the study.  

Mastercard is a key enabler in the digitalisation of Europe’s SMEs, serving four out five small businesses or approximately 18 million small enterprises. It carried out the research in 15 countries to understand how small businesses are responding to Europe’s increasingly digital economy and society. The study polled 10,500 respondents from both family- and non-family-run SMEs, demonstrating that new strategies are needed to better help smaller family firms. 

Barriers to digital adoption 

Family businesses have rapidly adapted to the digital-first world ushered in by the pandemic, with nearly half (47%) increasing their use of digital payments. However, the research reveals that family firms are still uncertain about which digital resources and technology would work best for them.  

More than two-fifths (41%) said they wanted new digital tools to modernise their businesses, but a significant number (28%) were unsure of which solution would best support them.  

Other factors holding them back were concerns around privacy and security, which was less of a concern for non-family-run firms suggesting they may have better guardrails in place and therefore feel more reassured.  

Surprisingly, close to a third (30%) of family businesses said relying on an internet connection was a barrier preventing new digital solutions that could support their commercial activities.  

 

The role of family dynamics 

Being family-run presents distinct challenges for running a business that may also make modernising more complicated. One issue uncovered was resistance to change, with some employees thinking their family firm had a closed mindset to adapting with the times and trying new things (27%), with older generations seen as less likely to want to do so.  

Navigating relations between family members is also a unique factor at family businesses, with a fifth saying that personal relations with their relatives was the biggest hurdle to overcome at work. Interestingly, succession-planning was a key flashpoint for some, with a fifth reporting there was conflict over who would take over the business in the future.   

 

There was a strong desire amongst family-run firms to have more education, training and mentorship to help their businesses grow. More than two-fifths wanted to modernise the business through the better use of digital tools. This demonstrates that small family businesses have an appetite to upskill and move with the times, but need more help in order to do so, presenting a clear opportunity for support. 

“Small businesses are the driving force of Europe’s economy, employing 82 million  people and have shown remarkable resilience in tough times.  However, many SMEs, especially those that are family-run, need additional support to thrive in a changing world,” says Mark Barnett, president of Mastercard Europe.

On the whole, respondents were positive about working with their relatives and family firms were more optimistic they would grow in the coming year than non-family run businesses. However, the uncertainty of if and how to modernise, coupled with family dynamics, could increase the risk of some small family businesses eventually being outpaced by more adaptable competitors. 

EuroNewsweek is a dynamic news platform featuring lifestyle, sustainability, successful stories, tech, leadership, creative marketing, business, and the unstoppable people behind them.

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Why Potholes are a Problem for Businesses and What to Do About Them

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A silver car on the road passing by a big pothole
Potholes are a common issue across the country, with the RAC estimating more than one million of them in the UK.

Unless you run a garage, potholes are bad for businesses. The deep holes in a road’s surface can cause many vehicle issues, such as tyre damage or deflation, wheel rim bending, broken suspension springs, or alignment problems.

Unfortunately, potholes are a common issue across the country, as the RAC estimates there are more than one million in the UK.  So, why are they a problem for businesses, and what can they do about them?

What Causes Potholes?

A pothole develops when water seeps into the tiny cracks in a road surface, which commonly form due to excess traffic. The water may then freeze and expand, causing the cracks to become large once it thaws. It weakens the surface while allowing more water to enter, and the potholes could be exacerbated by heavy rainfall. Heavy traffic over the weak road causes a small hole to develop, which will grow due to the pressure of passing cars.

Why are Potholes Bad for Businesses?

Businesses have a duty of care to their employees, which is why potholes are a big problem, as they can pose a risk to employee safety on the road. Also, they could increase the risk of a collision with one or more motorists, pedestrians, or cyclists.

Potholes are a threat to businesses dependent on efficient road infrastructure and transportation, such as courier firms or logistics companies. If a pothole causes significant damage to a vehicle, a small business might be unable to operate for many days until the necessary repairs are complete. As a result, it could lead to a loss of business, customer dissatisfaction, and reputational damage.

What Can Businesses Do About Potholes?

Businesses cannot force local councils to fill potholes across towns and cities, but they can prevent the deep holes on their premises. Improve road safety on-site with a dependable pothole repair kit, which you can apply straight from a bucket and use in all weather conditions.

It will allow your business to create a safer, usable environment for all on-site vehicles. You can use it to fill gaps on various surfaces, such as drives, paths, cycle tracks, and manholes. It will minimise road safety issues and prevent your vehicles from sustaining damage on the premises.

Also, your business could request its employees avoid driving over potholes, but only when it is safe to do so. If it isn’t safe, they will have no option but to drive over them. However, they could decrease damage by reducing their speed or distancing their vehicle from other motorists if possible.

Potholes can pose a risk to employee safety and cause substantial damage to many business vehicles. If a vehicle experiences damage on the road, a company might have no other option but to spend a large sum on essential repairs to get it back on the road, which can drain its profitability.

Also, a lengthy vehicle repair could impact a business’s operations, affecting its revenue, customer satisfaction, and reputation. Unfortunately, you cannot change the UK’s roads, but you can repair potholes on-site and teach your drivers how to safely drive over them to prevent accidents and minimise repairs.

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Chocolate Lovers Wanted as Cadbury Seeks 48 Tasters in the UK

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Chocolate Lovers Wanted as Cadbury Seeks 48 Tasters in the UK
• The roles involve tasting iconic brands such as Cadbury, Toblerone and Milka, and providing feedback to support product development.

Mondelēz International is recruiting 48 Sensory Panellist job roles at its historic Bournville site in Birmingham. The part-time roles, also known as chocolate tasters, will play a crucial role in product development by tasting and providing consistent, objective and honest feedback on new chocolate products, including iconic brands such as Cadbury, Toblerone and Milka.

Successful applicants will bring a passion for food, a desire to try new and inventive products, as well as a communicative personality to collaborate with other panellists. Full training is provided, including helping successful applicants to develop their taste buds and learn the specific vocabulary required to communicate feedback.

The Sensory Panellist roles are part of ongoing investment being made at the iconic Bournville site, the home of Cadbury, with the brand celebrating its 200th anniversary year. The roles, which were previously located at our Reading Scientific Services site in Wokingham, will now be based out of Mondelēz’s Global Centre of Excellence for Chocolate research and development at Bournville.

The roles play an important role in Mondelēz International’s commitment to world class innovation, ensuring it continues to adapt to changing consumer trends and delivering choice for consumers. Recently it has continued to enhance its health and wellbeing portfolio. In 2023 it launched Cadbury Delights, a new range of confectionary under 100 calories per bar, and in April this year it launched Cadbury Brunch Light, new non-HFSS (non-high in fat, salt and sugar) range of Cadbury Brunch Bars with each bar containing less than 100 calories.

“We are hugely excited to be recruiting 48 Sensory Panellists to join our amazing research and development team in Bournville. Often called a ‘dream job’ for many, the tasters will play an invaluable role in helping to develop the perfect taste profiles for our amazing products. Previously our Sensory Panellists have helped develop consumer favourites including Caramilk and Toblerone Truffles.

“We currently have around 600 employees working in a variety of research and development roles in the UK and are looking forward to welcoming our newly trained chocolate tasters to the team. They will enable us to continue to innovate and lead the future of snacking,” says Afsha Chugtai, Section Manager in the Consumer Science Team at Mondelēz International.

This year Cadbury is celebrating its 200th year anniversary. To mark the occasion the chocolatier has released a national television advert that reflects its core values of generosity; launched Cadbury Dairy Milk bars in stores with packaging designs from 1915 to the current day; and partnered with Alzheimer’s Research UK, donating £200,000 to support research to one day find a cure for dementia and drive awareness of the condition.

To find out more about careers at Mondelēz International and apply to become a chocolate taster, visit: https://www.mondelezinternational.com/careers

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Left-Wing Coalition Surprises in French Elections

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Left-Wing Coalition Surprises in French Elections
Non, merci: Far-Left Coalition shrinks Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen in surprising French elections. | Photo: Peter Curbishley

When the New Popular Front (NFP), a coalition of four left-wing parties, came together in June to present a united front and keep the National Rally from winning a majority in France after President Emmanuel Macron called the snap election, few predicted the surprising results of the legislative elections across the country.

Having won 182 seats in the National Assembly, largely thanks to tactical voting in Sunday’s second-round election, the New Popular Front is now the largest political group in France. However, this number of seats is still less than the 289 required for an absolute majority.

France’s latest election results risk slowing down decision-making in the European Union’s second-largest economy. Despite leading after the first round of votes, Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN) party and its allies won only 143 seats, while President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Ensemble alliance secured 163 seats.

The second round of the legislative elections in France took place on July 6 and 7. On July 6, voters cast their ballots in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyana, Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthélemy, French Polynesia, and in embassies and consulates located in the Americas and Caribbean zone. On Sunday, July 7, citizens voted in mainland France, Réunion, Mayotte, New Caledonia, and in embassies and consulates outside the Americas and Caribbean zone.

According to the French Interior Ministry, the second round of the legislative elections had a good turnout, reaching 59.71% at 5 PM on Sunday, July 7, 2024 – a significant increase compared to 2022’s turnout of 38%.

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