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Small businesses expect online revenues to grow 25%

LONDON - Small and medium-sized businesses expect to see online revenues rise by more than 25% next year, according to a new survey, but fears over security and IT fraud could hold back growth.

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According to the State of the eNation survey, commissioned by NetBenefit, while people running SMEs expect revenue to rise next year, 35% fear that the rise in IT fraud may have a negative impact on their online operations.

It also revealed that one third of SMEs do not believe that the government does enough to encourage small businesses to get online.

The research found that over the coming 12 months, the major online objective for SMEs is to increase their activity, with 18% planning to add e-commerce capabilities to their websites.

Other areas of planned investment include online marketing, with 25% planning some sort of campaign, and search engine optimisation, which is a priority for 23% of those surveyed.

Jonathan Robinson, director of business development at NetBenefit, said: "These findings would suggest that SMEs are going through an important evolutionary stage in their attitude towards e-business, moving away from the traditional 'me too' approach to one that delivers greater value to their business."

He added: "This positive outlook is very encouraging and it is therefore essential that the government and industry chiefs seek to remedy the perception that the UK is not an environment that encourages small businesses to get online."

The survey was conducted by Vanson Bourne and polled the owners of 150 SMEs, classed as having between five and 50 employees.

NetBenefit is a hosting company and a major domain name registrar. It was established in 1995 and its clients include the England & Wales Cricket Board and the Liberal Democrats.

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