Getting your business ready to compete in a digital age
Gori Yahaya is the founder of UpSkill Digital and is also a delivery partner at the Business & IP Centre. His company specialises in providing bespoke workshops that focus on improving the digital skills of small businesses, charities and young people across the UK.
For most businesses today the internet has become a vital tool in helping them to grow and prosper. However, there are many companies that lack the necessary digital skills to compete effectively in the modern business world.
We caught up with Gori to find out how UpSkill Digital is helping to buck this trend.
UpSkill Digital focuses on improving the digital skills of small businesses, charities and young people. What made these three groups of particular interest to you?
Iâ€™ve had the pleasure of training a variety of audiences for Google over the years and these three groups stood out to me as having the largest need for digital skills in the UK. Small businesses truly drive the UK economy and almost half of them don't have websites or the necessary skills to succeed in the digital age. There is a similar statistic for charities across the UK and for many itâ€™s down to a lack of confidence and ease of access to affordable training. As for young people, there is a common misconception that every young person has an innate understanding of all things digital. Many of them are proficient with digital products for personal use but often have no idea how to harness their digital savviness in a professional setting. This really drives us at UpSkill Digital, because we want to unlock the true potential of these digital natives and empower them with practical skills to help businesses grow.
What are the key areas of digital marketing that small businesses and entrepreneurs should be aware of?
With the digital age moving so fast, itâ€™s often hard for businesses to keep up. One of the key areas that businesses are keen to learn more about is Google Analytics. The power of data to help businesses succeed and understand their customers is underestimated by many and the idea of deep diving into the data still seems very daunting to many small business owners. We launched our hands-on Google Analytics session to really help entrepreneurs get to grips with, and take action on, their data. The other area businesses often find it difficult to nail is Social Media for business. Most people are aware of how social media has changed the way we engage with our friends, family and even companies, but building a social media presence and content strategy to help you engage and sell, needs a little more guidance. Outside of these two, the big focus is mobile marketing as weâ€™re truly living in a mobile world so you need to ensure your online presence is built to engage through smartphones.
What did you do before UpSkill Digital and could you ever see yourself returning to it?
Before UpSkill Digital and, perhaps even before my time spent working and consulting in digital marketing, I used to run and manage experiential events for large brands, from product launches to PR stunts. I loved it, and Iâ€™m still keen to help out with a major event when it comes up. Iâ€™ve managed to combine this event management experience with my love of digital training by running our training roadshows across the UK, so I do feel like Iâ€™ve found a great balance.
Have you always wanted to become an entrepreneur or is it something that just happened?
I still find the definition of an entrepreneur can differ between people. I feel like Iâ€™ve always had an entrepreneurial approach as I find thereâ€™s nothing more rewarding than creating something out of nothing and solving a problem whilst doing so. Having worked for myself for well over a decade now, Iâ€™ve experienced many highs and low with different start-ups and had a few failures along the way. You truly start to appreciate your entrepreneurial nature once when you notice how you learn and bounce back from the difficult moments.
Whatâ€™s next for Upskill Digital?
At our core UpSkill Digital is a training agency that aims to make digital education fun, memorable and practical. Weâ€™ve been fortunate enough to work with great partners such as Google and the British Library to help train a large number of small business owners and entrepreneurs in digital skills and weâ€™ve had lots of interest in expanding our training workshops to other vital areas of business, such as presentation and sales skills. Weâ€™ve also embarked on a good model with our roadshows to help plug the digital skills gap, and there are some interesting government initiatives in the pipeline that weâ€™re hoping to support.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Being an entrepreneur can be a wild and rocky ride and youâ€™ll need all the help you can get. Leverage your friends, family and any contacts you make along the way to help you. Weâ€™re often reluctant to ask for help but weâ€™re happy to give it when asked, so donâ€™t be afraid to ask. Improve your productivity with to-do lists; they have been a lifesaver for me. I like to carry a notebook around with me and will often take notes and prioritise things on a list to ensure Iâ€™m not procrastinating. Finally, keep learning. Iâ€™ve always been fascinated by our capacity to learn and, more importantly, how we use this information to further or better ourselves, our careers and our businesses.
As part of the 'DoItDigital' campaign, The British Library and its national network of Business & IP Centres has pledged to support 10,000 UK small businesses to learn new digital skills in 2017.
To book your place on an UpSkillDigital workshop or to find out more about the Business & IP Centreâ€™s workshops, one-to-ones and business support, visit: http://www.bl.uk/business-and-ip-centre