Nearly one in five (18 percent) small businesses have given out their personal Wi-Fi details to customers so they can access the web from their premises, says The Cloud.

Research by the public Wi-Fi network provider revealed 59 percent of small firms don't offer Wi-Fi to their customers, with 44 percent admitting they have no plans to do so, despite demand from customers. Of the 45 percent of small business owners who said they had been asked for Wi-Fi on their premises, 61 percent said they had been asked 'often or very often'.

However, 10 percent of Brits admit they chose big brand coffee shops over a smaller independent one because of the free Wi-Fi offered. Furthermore, 21 percent said they expect free Wi-Fi in any coffee shop they visit and 30 percent believe smaller independent coffee shops are missing out on customers by not offering Wi-Fi.

"Every company has to focus obsessively on catering to customers' demands, but this is especially true of small businesses which are under pressure as never before, said Vince Russell, managing director at The Cloud.

"In recent years the public has come to expect that they'll be able to get fast, reliable Wi-Fi access wherever they are, and our research suggests that many smaller businesses are missing out on custom and revenue because they aren't delivering what these customers expect."

In a bid to combat this, The Cloud has launched 'Cloud In A Box', which lets small businesses offer free Wi-Fi to their customers. Cloud in a Box costs £99 plus a £5.49 monthly subscription