The freelance worker in particular and the entrepreneur in general is someone who has to face, many times alone, a series of tasks that can end up becoming a real obstacle when starting or developing one´s business. The use of ICT and new technologies can help one achieve their goals and, almost always, this can be achieved with low risk investment.
The SmartPeme service, launched by the Deputación de Pontevedra-The provincial council- in 2016, has become in a short time an effective companion for the entrepreneur who gives guidance in an unknown territory. Helping one to know how to face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead with the new technologies in the business world is the main purpose of this service.
The SmartPeme project began with the installation of a network of advisory points in the different localities of this region, assisted by qualified ICT consultants and new technologies. The recipients, whom the network is directed to, are the freelancers and local micro-businesses, with preferential treatment for those who have less than five workers or an annual turnover of less than 2 million euros. In total, in Pontevedra there are more than 64,000 small businesses, which make up more than 92% of the business fabric of this locality.
Ignacio Virel, Project Manager of SmartPeme, explains that the level of technology in both SMEs and the cluster of autonomous communities is quite low, so this service is assuming an important help to access a territory that for many is still unknown, although new technologies are increasingly present in the lives of people and also of companies. “Our aspiration is for the SmartPeme advisor in each region to become a kind of technological cruise control for companies and freelancers who seek advise,” says Virel.
Among the objectives that are to be achieved with the use of SmartPeme by entrepreneurs are the increased competition of SMEs through the use of new technologies, introducing innovation in production processes in products and services of SMEs and facilitate the implementation of electronic trading between the freelancers and the micro-SMEs (small businesses).
Virel explains that the experience accumulated so far with this project shows that companies and freelancers who use SmartPeme services are satisfied with the service. “This project represents an important financial outlay for the Local Council and I think we are achieving the set goals because entrepreneurs are in a very precarious situation when it comes to the use of new technologies,” says Virel.
SmartPeme users have a 10-hour free advice package that allows them to take their first steps in a world that is new for many of them. From there on, they can become part of the SmartPeme Conecta service, which allows them to continue consulting. Another service that has begun to offer in recent times is SmartPeme Informa, which allows SMEs and freelancers to receive updated information on issues related to new technologies that may affect them, such as the spread of computer viruses.
The SmartPeme points network is composed of six centers, strategically distributed throughout the province of Pontevedra. Each center has a team of two highly qualified ICT consultants who are knowledgeable about the business fabric of each region. In addition to the SmartPeme coordinating center, located in Pontevedra, the rest of the service points are located in the following areas: Counties of Pontevedra and O Morrazo; Counties of O Salnés and Caldas; Counties of Deza and Tabeirós-Terra de Montes; Counties of O Condado and A Paradanta; Counties of Vigo and O Baixo Miño.
Answers for business
In these centers business people can find answers to different needs, among the most common queries are the possibilities of setting up a website for a business or starting to sell online. Some of the questions that are answered by SmartPeme consultants are the following:
How can I save on the communication costs of the company?
What do I need to connect to the internet?
Is it safe to operate with online banking?
How useful is the electronic signature?
What does it provide me with and what are the advantages of electronic commerce?
Can I manage the social networks of my company myself?
What are the management computer tools?
How can I issue electronic invoices?
What subsidies and aid do I have to incorporate ICT into my SME?
How do I apply and implement new technologies to my business?