Simon Best, CEO of BaseKit on the boom in online micro-businesses
All over the world, as the technological revolution continues, we’re seeing growth in micro-businesses starting businesses online in a way that we’ve not witnessed before.
Five or ten years ago, a start-up looking to trade online faced an expensive outlay, often prohibitively so, to get themselves up and running.
Now, accelerated by the pandemic and facilitated by the growth of social media, individuals around the globe armed with an idea and determination, are finding a new way to support their livelihoods and make their dreams become a reality.
In the UK, the micro-business sector was the only one which saw growth in 2020, with a net gain of 5,300 in the 12 months leading up to the start of 2021 according to BEIS.
What we’re seeing now is a new era of the democratisation of digital business, an opportunity for everyone to sell online. It really is a revolution and it’s exciting to see.
An opportunity to support
Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up around nine in ten businesses across the globe according to the World Bank. In some countries, the distribution is weighted even more heavily to the smaller end of the scale. In the UK, for example, there are well over 5 million micro-businesses which constitute 95 per cent of the total number of companies across the country.
Many of these, particularly new start-ups, will be run by people who have an idea or a great product but who in a lot of cases lack the technical or marketing expertise to make it a success. This is the exciting part.
Over the years, BaseKit has served more than 10 million websites across our network of partners. We currently support some 250,000 paying customers, mainly in Europe and the UK but also in the Middle East, South East Asia, the US and South America. It’s a figure we’re looking to double over the next couple of years.
We’re not constricted by geography – the entrepreneurial spirit is a human one, globally – despite differences in local economics and business culture the opportunity to ensure micro-businesses can start a business and thrive online fast is vast.
A different order of priorities
Maybe 10 years ago, companies would have set up a website, tried to drive traffic to it, and then look to sell that way. While SEO is still an essential tool for many companies, we’re increasingly seeing that businesses are generating interest via social media first and using websites more as e-commerce portals or booking facilities.
Not everyone has a product to sell, of course. Many people are now selling their time, knowledge, or education. There are some e-commerce platforms out there which just about support selling this concept, but they’re not really fit for purpose.
What all these start-ups need is a range of really intuitive tools to help them trade online. For micro-entrepreneurs with limited technical know-how, the UX needs to shine through.
The importance of collaboration
For BaseKit, as a business, the challenge is to capture these opportunities to support entrepreneurs in the growth of their companies. That’s one reason why collaboration with other like-minded companies is really important, as it enables cross-referral of business.
On more practical matters, a consistent user experience is vital to ensure micro-business owners find it simple to do business online. The technical aspects of website builders, e-commerce facilities and booking systems, shouldn’t be highly complex. What is difficult is creating super-simple, effortless tools where the end user doesn’t need manual or technical support to reach their desired objectives. And creating APIs which work well across different service providers is something we’re really keen to work with other saas businesses on.
We’ve already started this process with developments in our SEO offering with RankingCoach and we feel we’re at the forefront of this concept, creating a portfolio of site builders and e-commerce products which are genuinely configured to work for different partners.
We’ve talked previously about open ecosystems, whereby we work with several partners to create a common user experience with standardised APIs which work across multiple applications, allowing them to talk to each other. That’s a revolutionary concept but one which we feel is the key to maximising this opportunity – for our partners and, of course, the micro-business owners who we support around the world.
Freedom and a spirit of openness
We’re not looking to disrupt the market but rather to create new opportunities for our partners and their customers.
We’re looking to provide major businesses who support large scale micro-business communities with white-labelled or branded digital software to engage and empower their customers. When it comes to companies which have built something genuinely useful to partners with differing needs, we believe no one else has put that work in.
We’re excited to work with ambitious partners who are as committed as we are to helping micro-businesses start and thrive online fast. Partners who are not looking to compete, but collaborate with us through a shared understanding of how each others’ products work and build a long term partnership to help our businesses to work together more effectively.
We’ve got a great team, strong products and great UX. We know, at scale, products like ours can make the global entrepreneurial spirit and micro-business boom, deliver ten-fold to the global digital economy. With emerging markets and a changing world, the opportunities are limitless.
If you want to find out more, we’d love to hear from you! To speak with us or arrange a demo, contact us here.