MYOB and Westpac have teamed up to launch a joint initiative to help small businesses advance their digital capabilities.

The ‘Ready for Business’ initiative is a digital toolkit that offers SMEs the tools they need to start and grow their business including tools to build an off-the-shelf website and help them attract customers to their website.

In addition, Westpac has committed to getting 100,000 Australian small businesses online.

This comes after findings of the ‘Westpac Ready for Business Report’ showed over half (53 per cent) of Australian small businesses still do not have a website, equating to potentially more than one million businesses who are not online, promoting their business.

The report also surveyed 1,000 Australians on their preferences when shopping with 50 per cent of those consumers surveyed saying they always use the internet to research prior to purchasing a product or service, and over half (53 per cent) reporting they spend more than an hour shopping online a week.

“The results demonstrate a divide between the ‘digital haves’ and the ‘digital have-nots.’ Many businesses without digital tools such as a website and online invoicing and payment capabilities are competitively disadvantaged,” Gai McGrath, Westpac general manager retail banking, said.

‘Ready for Business’ also helps facilitate both online invoicing and payments with the report revealing that two in three (66 per cent) SMEs believe that having the ability to be paid online through a transactional website would provide an advantage for their company.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Westpac on the initiative. We share a goal of making business life easier by helping small businesses engage in the digital economy. The benefits of being online include the ability to compete on a more level playing field with local and global rivals, increased productivity and less time spent on administration,” MYOB CEO Tim Reed said.