FIRMS are being given a boost to operate at full speed with funded support from the Superfast Business service.

The free service harnesses technology to help businesses grow and develop.

Superfast Business is delivered by WSX Enterprise in Dorset and funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Dorset County Council.

Weymouth business The Dorset Shop website and Dorchester swimming pool firm Cresta are just two of the many companies to have benefitted from the free service.

Chris Wilson, ‘shopkeeper’ at online store The Dorset Shop, set up her business around two years ago. She wanted to do something completely different after working for children’s services in Dorset.

Her website pulls together independent food and craft producers based in Dorset such as silversmiths, cheesemakers and photographers and provides a ‘one stop shop’ for people who wish to buy a little piece of Dorset. It also provides an online shop front for producers who are too busy to build and maintain their own website.

Chris has been receiving free workshops from social media consultant and copywriter Andrew Knowles.

Weymouth-based Andrew has instructed Chris on how she can draw in more hits to her website using social media.

He said: “The businesses I have been working with are entitled to 12 hours of free support.

“A specialist looks at a support plan and identifies which business specialist would be most helpful. For Chris they identified social media and that’s how someone like me got involved.”

Chris said she wanted Andrew to help her website compete with similar sites.

She said: “There’s lots and lots of websites out there and it’s all about how you can direct people to your site. Andrew has given me lots of tips on how to do that.

“I’ve been getting to grips with how to use Twitter and in the time I’ve been doing that I’ve managed to get 200 more followers. Since I’ve been having workshops with Andrew I’ve managed to get website traffic to increase by 40 per cent.

“He’s also showed me how to use Hootsuite, which enables me to do Facebook and Twitter updates simultaneously. We’re now talking about setting up a blog so I can get more people coming back to the website.

“I would definitely recommend the service to other businesses.”

Andrew has also been offering business support to a potter in West Bay and a management consultant in Wimborne.

He said: “I think social media is the most popular topic that people are requesting help with. If you are going to be in business then social media is such a big part of it.

“And it’s not even something that people know automatically know about because they are young. The internet is 25 years old and it’s still ridiculously young.

“The stuff we are doing on Facebook and Twitter now will all change rapidly.”

l TO find out if your business is eligible for this fully-funded service from Superfast Business, come along to one of our events. A full schedule for 2014 is available on the website: The Connected Business: Bridport (Highlands End Holiday Park) Thursday, May 22, 2014, 10am to 12.30pm; The Connected Business: Wimborne (Peartree Business Centre), Thursday, June 21, 9.30am to noon.

Cloud Computing, What Can it Do For Your Business?, Verwood (The Hub), Wednesday, June 25, 9.30am to noon. There is also an event happening in Dorchester on July 9 with details due to go on soon.