Plea to all small business owners not to be 'embarrassed by digital skills gap'

How businesses can make the most of social media channels

Small owners should not be “embarrassed” by a lack of digital skills or fear of technology – but must embrace social media, a marketing professional has stressed.

With nearly one third (30 per cent) of Brits primed to start an online business or side hustle in 2023, tech experts have today highlighted the importance of connectivity and smartphones.

But their warning comes after research in November found 5.4 million Brits are unable to carry out simple digital tasks, such as shopping for the best deals, buying a train ticket, or staying in touch with friends virtually.

Stacey Kehoe, 39, took digital training to ensure she and her team of eight or so employees at Brandlective Communications can embrace digital trends and new technology, including popular social media platforms.

Speaking to, she today recommended business owners to take time to understand the digital age, even if they’re “embarrassed” about their skillset.

“There definitely is an embarrassment around technology. It’s not as complicated as you think it is because people think about technology and think ‘Oh, I’m not young, so I can’t learn this’ and that’s just absolutely not true,” the marketing professional said.

“I think when people just take the time, just dedicate an hour, sit down and watch a training video and be able to follow the steps, it is really not as complicated as you think.

“Just try it. Just give it a go. Don’t write it off without looking at it.

“With so much uncertainty around the economy, it can be hard to feel like you have control over your business.”

Stacey Kehoe, founder of Brandlective Communications

Stacey Kehoe took digital training courses (Image: BT)

Stacey benefitted from training with BT, which has provided digital support courses to more than 750,000 businesses in the UK.

But research conducted this week for the communications giant showed 76 per cent of entrepreneurs want to improve their digital skills. Nearly one quarter (24 per cent) want to focus on targeting the right audience online, and 21 per cent intend to improve their understanding of social media.

Stacey, who founded her firm in 2012 having previously been a corporate travel agent, continued: “There are people who say ‘sorry if I’m asking such a dumb question, but how do I do this’ or ‘is this what this really means’ or whatever. There is no such thing as a dumb question because we all know what we know.

“We need more people sort of encouraging people to take risks and just push outside their comfort zones a little bit, because you don’t want to get left behind. Sometimes I’m having those tough conversations where I’m saying, ‘Do you want to survive? Do you want your business to be here in five years and 10 years?’ That’s just how we look at this and it’s not as complicated as you think. So there’s nothing to be embarrassed about really. We all have to learn things.

“Some of the workshops that BT run cover everything from how to use your email effectively, to how to create a Facebook page or whatever. Some of that stuff is really quite simple.”

Woman confused at technology

People of all ages have reported fear of digital technology lately (file image) (Image: Getty)

Social media is expected to continue to play a huge part in the commercial sector in 2023. Facebook is often recognised as a large tool small businesses use for marketing, but short-form video platform TikTok says it now offers “the right solutions to drive impact for businesses.”

More than one billion people use TikTok globally and its popularity continues to rise, something Stacey suggested businesses should note.

The entrepreneur, who lives in Forest Hill, southeast London, having moved to the UK from New Zealand 22 years ago, added: “Instagram, for instance, didn’t exist when I started my business. So many platforms have come since then. There has been so much progression. Social media is the backbone really for any business now.

“I think it really matters to customers. It is so important.

“I’ve been very much a consumer of TikTok personally to date and I’ve tried to understand the shift from it being what was a kind of silly platform a couple of years ago, to now it being quite useful for businesses. It has been quite a big shift.

“Businesses do need to embrace it (social media). I’d suggest they do two platforms really well.”

Nick Ferrari scolds James Cleverly over economy comments

It comes after James Cleverly, Foreign Secretary, claimed the UK was “in a good place” and said the country’s “growth is outperforming a number of our international competitors.”

But LBC presenter Nick Ferrari slapped him down, stating he and the politician “must be in different countries”.

Away from business, households have, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, found they socialise, pay bills, look for work, access vital information and manage our everyday lives using digital tools.

Communications companies have rapidly worked to meet the demand for effective connectivity as a result.

Chris Sims, managing director in small and medium enterprises for BT, said: “From side hustles at the kitchen table to start-ups and scale-ups, at BT Business we recognise that reliable and fast connectivity is the backbone of small and medium businesses up and down the UK.

“As digital entrepreneurialism goes from strength to strength, our networks are processing more data than ever. That’s why we’re committed to providing the very best broadband availability, speeds, and mobile connectivity for all of our customers – and investing in upskilling more small businesses to help them unlock their digital earning potential.”

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