Leading entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson is calling on the UK’s SMEs to take full advantage of the business opportunities available on the internet.

This comes after a survey commissioned by Virgin Media Business revealed that around half of Britain’s small and medium businesses weren’t using their website to find new customers, while 28% didn’t have a website at all.

In response to these figures, he is fronting a free online digital learning tool called The Big Digital Skills Hub. This website will provide a variety of advice in the form of written articles, animated video tutorials, interactive quizzes and downloadable resources.

Top industry experts have been brought on board to offer tutorials on everything from setting up and maximizing a website to social media and content marketing.

The benefits of small businesses investing in digital technologies

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, said: “We are living in an increasingly connected world and wherever we go access to the internet is just a touch away through a smartphone or tablet.

“The way we do business has been transformed and trade online is growing at around 20% a year, so it’s now not just a case of making the most of an opportunity for your business, it is crucial for business survival. “

He explained how embracing new digital technologies at Virgin has transformed the business world and the way in which customers are engaged with.

He added: “Social media has proved to be one of the most effective ways of reaching our customers and there is much more data available for us to find out what our customers want and how best we can create new products and services to meet those needs.

“Taking advantage of the power of the internet and digital technology has helped Virgin to create many of the great services we have today.”

While figures from the survey suggested small businesses were lagging behind in terms of the digital revolution, other statistics showed that many companies are planning on investing more in digital technology.

Around a quarter of businesses considered developing their website as a top priority and 35% reported that their investment in digital technology will increase by 20% over the next five years.