HALF of the UK’s microbusinesses and sole traders believe that they now work harder than ever and that new technology is partly to blame, according to new research.

The second Big Issues for Small Businesses report from Lloyds Bank Insurance finds that half (47%) of all microbusinesses and sole traders feel unable to ever completely switch off from work due to an increased reliance on technology to operate and grow their businesses, with two in five (41%) working longer hours to keep up as a result.

That pressure is further driven by the importance of the digital shop front, with 70% of businesses fearing that neglecting their online presence puts them at risk of being left behind.

Almost nine in 10 (87%) believe a quick response to customer enquiries is critical for securing new business, with a third (30%) admitting they feel under pressure to stay constantly connected to avoid missing out on leads.

Despite the reliance on modern technology to keep businesses connected, a quarter (25%) admit that their technology devices are uninsured. A further 40% have failed to take out any insurance on other business tools in the company’s toolkit.

Damien McGarrigle, head of business insurance at Lloyds Bank Insurance, said: “The race to stay at the forefront of technology, connectivity and innovation is now affecting even the smallest businesses and the report shows they are focused on evolving and keeping up.

“However, as technology now plays such a crucial role in business, Britain’s microbusinesses and sole traders must ensure they have adequate insurance in order to protect their investments, enable their businesses to grow and minimise risk of setbacks.”

One of the main concerns for almost half (46%) of business respondents is knowing how to most effectively use the latest communication channels, while for over a quarter (28%) simply keeping up with the latest technology devices is a worry.

The report shows there is now a real dependence on technology devices to keep small businesses afloat. The majority (60%) of microbusinesses use technology to respond to customer needs and ensure they are always contactable for new business leads (58%), as well as customers and suppliers (56%).

More than a quarter (26%) worry about losing data and over one in 10 (13%) would not be confident about retrieving data if it did go missing. A third (33%) of businesses polled say they would be unable to operate at full capacity for less than a week if their business tools were lost or damaged.

Mr McGarrigle added: “It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of the business but building in time to regularly check that your business is on track and protected from any threats is a small investment, which could prevent businesses being left significantly out of pocket should the worst happen.

“Seeking advice to guarantee you are adequately insured - and making sure that your important information is digitally backed up - should be on every business owner’s to-do list.”

Lloyds Bank Insurance has the following tips for microbusinesses:

  • Take stock of all of the tools you require for your business and make sure the list, along with relevant insurance details, is updated regularly
  • Additional business insurance for items such as computer equipment, stock and tools will help provide further safeguards
  • Ensure that data is backed up regularly to different sources, ideally to hardware and cloud storage, so that it can be restored if required
  • Seek professional advice on safeguarding your business - make sure you have the appropriate professional indemnity and public liability insurance