Richard Branson is confident that the entrepreneurial image of the Virgin brand will encourage small businesses to get online with his latest venture, Virgin Biznet.
Biznet is a one-stop shop that enables businesses with under 20 employees, including those running a one-man outfit from home, to get online. It is estimated that only three per cent of the UK's small businesses are currently online.
Biznet will provide small firms with everything they need to get online from expert Web consultants, including registering a domain name, providing net access, building the site and store fronts, and creating a merchant account to enable the businesses to process credit card payments.
"A lot of small businesses face a big, black hole when it comes to the internet. They know they should be on it, but they don't know where to start," explained Mylene Curtis, managing director of Virgin Biznet. "This is where we come in."
The full Biznet package costs £348.95 plus £89.95 a month to run the site. Businesses sign up for a twelve month contract. When that time is up, they are free to take the site and run it themselves if they want. A self-build package which includes domain name registration costs £149.95 plus £29.95 a month maintenance. Biznet takes 4.5 per cent of all credit card transactions.
Curtis said Biznet is selling itself high on affordability. She estimates the average site would cost £6000 if a small business set it up independently with outside consultancy.
Biznet will also provide a virtual management team offering small business legal, financial, marketing and human resource advice.
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