Three ways brands can champion tech democracy for small businesses

In today’s digital world, it’s difficult for any new or small business to achieve its true potential without the help of technology. But for many small business owners, accessing that tech isn’t straightforward – whether that’s because they don’t know what tools they need, how to make the most of them, or whether they’ll really make a positive impact in the end.

That’s why championing tech democracy should be essential for any company that supports small business success. Because even for non-tech focused businesses, digital tools like website builders or online bookings systems can empower them to reach new audiences, run their business more efficiently, and ultimately thrive.

1. Delivering digital tools in the right place

For many small business owners, the problem with accessing new tech is knowing where to find the tools they need and who they can trust to supply them. That’s a problem that the companies who partner with and support them can help solve, by offering essential digital tools alongside their core services.

Today, mobile-first tools are a must. So many small business owners access the internet primarily through their phone, and either rarely use or don’t even own a computer. For example in Africa – where 78% of people aged 18–24 have plans to start a business – mobile devices are far and away the most dominant source of web traffic.

If the tools to help small businesses set up websites and online stores aren’t made with mobile users in mind, it by default locks these budding entrepreneurs out of the game. Even if they have a computer to run the tools on, there is still a barrier there if mobile is where they’re most comfortable engaging with digital tech.

One way that the companies that support small businesses can provide these tools is through white label software. White label solutions – like a white label website builder – allows companies to offer robust, market-ready tech tools like the mobile-first BaseKit platform without the risk or cost of building them from scratch.

2. Filling gaps in digital education

Access to digital tools is crucial to achieving tech democracy for small businesses, but they’re not the only piece of the puzzle. For those tools to really be an asset, small business owners need to know how to use them effectively and draw out the most value.

The importance of digital skills can so often be overlooked. In an age where almost everyone has a smartphone and the internet is a fact of life, it’s easy to assume that today’s entrepreneurs would be perfectly comfortable getting stuck in with a website builder or an e-commerce store and figuring it out.

But in reality, our own research has found that a lack of knowledge is often the biggest barrier small businesses face when adopting new tech tools. If small business partners are investing in providing digital tools, it makes sense for them to also provide intuitive resources and information hubs to help small business owners make the most of what they’re buying.

It’s also worth remembering that digital education doesn’t necessarily begin with showing small businesses how to use tools they already have. Not every small business owner sees the need to adopt new tech, and so for them education also means demonstrating the value of technology in terms of time, efficiency and growth.

An open approach that gets tech talking

The tech world can be a closely guarded one at times, with innovations and competitive advantages to protect. But that approach can hold back the drive for tech democracy.

During the course of running a small business, entrepreneurs can use more than a dozen different tech systems for things like inventory management, marketing, customer or client bookings, and accounting and finance. If those systems can’t talk to each other, moving between them fills the day with friction.

At best, small business owners grit their teeth at the inefficiency. But at worst, it can put them off adopting tech altogether if they think their operation is faster without it. That’s why we believe that collaboration between tech vendors – via open ecosystems and APIs – is vital to help small business tech realise its potential.

Collaboration will mean different things for different sectors. For banking, for example, it might mean backing the momentum of open banking for faster and more secure e-commerce. For hosting providers, the focus might be on pioneering more open ecosystems so that small business owners can better connect their websites with their other tools and systems.

Open ecosystems can also help tech – and the small businesses that use it – to become greener. The telco industry is pushing for more collaboration between networks to help everyone modernise their infrastructure. And on the BaseKit Platform, we partnered this year with the image content delivery network ImageEngine to speed up load times on BaseKit sites and cut down their data-related carbon footprint.

We’re on a mission for tech democracy for small businesses – are you in? Request a demo of our software, or get in touch to see how we could collaborate.

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