Why sole traders and small businesses need tech more than they realise

Gardener looking at laptop

We recently surveyed 529 small businesses about the barriers stopping them from using tech to grow their business. While many pointed at issues related to the digital divide – the cost of tech or the time and knowledge it demands – the single biggest response was for ‘Other’.

When we dug a little deeper into what that meant, the results painted an interesting picture. Among the confessions of technophobia and a lack of trust in tech, almost a third of the responses said they just didn’t need it.

“I’m a driving instructor – what tech do I need?”

In some ways, it’s not a surprise that so many micro business owners don’t see tech as being relevant to them. The term “micro business” might be limited to businesses with five or fewer employees, but even that’s a fairly broad spectrum.

On the one hand it includes individuals running e-commerce stores or small retail and cafe operations, where tech like accounting software, social media and graphic design tools form a core part of the business. But it also includes sole traders like plumbers, gardeners and electricians, whose jobs are primarily hands-on and low-tech.

Part of the problem is that not everyone means the same thing when they talk about tech. Many sole traders say they don’t need to “go digital” because they imagine that means setting up a website, but don’t realise they’re already using tech in the form of digital calendars, navigation apps and emailing invoices.

Of the small business owners who said they didn’t need tech, many explained it was because of the jobs they did – jobs like driving instructor, holistic therapist and hairdresser. But these business types aren’t by necessity analogue. They depend on booking appointments and taking payments, and there’s no reason that can’t be done by a digital system rather than phone calls, cash and bank transfers.

Even low-tech businesses will need to embrace tech soon

Embracing the digital world isn’t something that small businesses and sole traders can put off for much longer. When banking, retail, education and even medicine can be accessed via tech, the expectation from consumers will soon be for every business, even the smallest, to follow suit.

Larger organisations are already responding to that demand. In 2021 they spent  a combined $615bn worldwide on enterprise software. If small businesses don’t embrace digital tools as well, they’ll struggle to compete.

They’ll also face stiffer competition from each other, since not all small businesses and sole traders look at tech the same way. A Quickbooks survey found that almost three quarters of Gen Z sole traders considered digital tools to be core to their business. These business owners have grown up with the internet and technology, and using social media marketing or selling online is second nature to them.

That integration of tech into their businesses has helped them better navigate both the growing digital trend and the recent pandemic. In the last 12 months the Gen Z sole traders interviewed by Quickbooks saw a net increase in their revenue, while their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts experienced a net decrease.

It’s not just small businesses looking to grow or who sell products online that need to seek out tech. A local self-employed plumber might not see a need for a professional website. But if they’re still relying on posting flyers through letterboxes to find new customers while their competitors can be found and booked online in seconds, they’re almost certainly going to lose trade because of it.

If they’re going to adopt tech, it needs to speak to them

As more small businesses follow larger organisations in adopting tech, those that don’t will risk being squeezed out of their market. But for many it’s not as simple as finding a supplier and buying some software. Our research found that 37% of small business owners don’t know what digital tools would be important for the future success of their business, and 39% didn’t know what kind of company they would trust most to provide them.

Partly this comes down to the way the tech is marketed, and how you engage with your small business customers. That’s the goal for one of our biggest hosting partners. They want to reach out more to tradespeople, and know that they need to target their marketing and image choices to speak to those business owners on their level.

When you market your digital tools, focus on what small business owners and sole traders are hoping to achieve. Most of the time they started their business because they love teaching yoga, solving technical problems or decorating cakes. When it comes to tech, they’re probably only looking for ways to book in customers without sitting by the phone, or to keep their supplier receipts and invoices logged neatly for tax season.

Another way to build trust is through the tools themselves. Small business owners already have enough on their plate with running their business, and can’t afford to let tech eat up any of their precious time. That means making tools easy to learn and use, and as accessible as possible.

Making them mobile-first has a huge role to play in overcoming this disconnect. If a website builder or e-commerce store kit only works properly on a desktop, that means business owners have to carve out special time at their desk to engage with them. But mobile-first tools mean they can tinker with their online presence over a coffee, at the pub, or lying in bed. Going digital then becomes part of their routine rather than an interruption to it.

We’re on a mission for tech democracy – are you in? Learn more about how to be a micro business champion using tech or  request a demo of our software, or  get in touch to see how we could collaborate.

We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. View more
Cookies settings
Privacy & Cookie policy
Privacy & Cookies policy
Cookie name Active
Privacy Policy

  1. Introduction This privacy policy sets out how we use and protect any information that you provide to BaseKit. We are committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Any personal information you provide when using our products or services will only be used in accordance with this policy. Note that this policy does not cover how we use and protect information provided to us from website builder customers. If you are a Go Sitebuilder customer, please see the Go Sitebuilder Privacy Policy. If you are a customer of another company that offers BaseKit’s website builder, please see the company’s privacy policy available via their website. We may change this policy from time to time by updating this page. You should check this page to ensure that you are happy with any changes. This policy is effective from January 2019.  

2. What information we collect We may collect the information you provide when you get in touch with us via the website, email, or phone.
  • You transfer your information to us via the website by filling in and submitting a form. We offer a number of different forms to help you find out more about the products and services we offer.
  • We have a number of different email addresses you can use to contact us. If you’re not sure which one to use then we recommend you send an email to support@basekit.com
  • We don’t provide a central phone number but BaseKit team members may provide their direct phone number for you to contact them.

3. How we use the information The information that we collect and store about you is primarily used to help us to stay in touch with you to provide our products and services. However, we may also use your information:
  • To improve our products and services
  • To send promotional email communications about special offers, news, product updates or other information which we think you may find interesting
  • To contact you for market research purposes
Note that we will only use your information as described in 3 and 4 above when you have explicitly opted in to receive such communications. You may opt out of these communications at any time by clicking the Unsubscribe link in any email or by sending a request to support@basekit.com  

4. Storing your personal data We store the data we collect using third party tools such as CRMs and databases. Any data we store is only accessible directly by a small number of authorised staff. The third parties that we use may store your data in locations outside of the EEA. We carefully review each supplier to ensure they handle data in line with this policy. We will store your data for as long as you remain a customer of BaseKit, or where you have actively been in contact with us about our products and services. We will keep data for up to 5 years if you’re not a customer or if we don’t hear from you.  

5. Security We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure. In order to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure, we have put in place suitable physical, electronic, and managerial processes to secure and safeguard the data we collect and store. The transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of data sent to us electronically. The transmission of data is entirely at your own risk.  

6. How we use cookies A cookie is a small file which allows websites and apps to identify individual users and store information about each user’s preferences. A cookie does not give access to any more information than a user chooses to provide. We use cookies:
  • To identify where visitors to the website came from
  • To identify the content that is being viewed
The third party suppliers that we work with may also use cookies for similar purposes. We carefully review each supplier to ensure they handle data in line with this policy. You may choose to enable or disable cookies. Most web browsers automatically enable cookies, but you can usually modify a browser’s settings to disable cookies if you prefer. If you disable cookies you may not be able to take full advantage of our websites.  

7. Disclosing your information We may disclose your information to third party suppliers that we work with to provide our products and services. We carefully review each supplier to ensure they handle data in line with this policy. We may also disclose your information where we are required to do so by law.  

8. Controlling your personal information You may choose to restrict the collection or use of your personal information in the following ways:
  • When providing any information to BaseKit via this website, you may opt in to receive promotional email communications.
  • If you receive a promotional email, you may opt out by clicking the Unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.
  • At any time you can opt out of promotional email communications by sending a request to support@basekit.com
  • If you would like us to delete all the information we have collected about you, send a request to support@basekit.com
  • If you would like to otherwise restrict the use of the information we have collected about you, send a request to support@basekit.com
  • Should you wish to access the information we hold about you, please send a request to support@basekit.com
Save settings
Cookies settings