Purpose – To develop a basic model of e-commerce adoption barriers to small businesses located in regional areas of developed countries. Design/methodology/approach – An empirical survey of 477 small businesses in Sweden and Australia about e-commerce adoption and implementation. The data was analysed using correlation matrices and factor analysis to derive a model of e-commerce barriers. Findings – E-commerce adoption barriers to small businesses in regional areas in both Sweden and Australia can be grouped according to two distinct factors: e-commerce is either “too difficult” or “unsuitable” for the business. The model derived is based on these factors. Research limitations/implications – Limitations – inability to derive industry specific conclusions; standard limitations associated with mailed survey instruments; further qualitative research is necessary. Research implications – “first of its kind” model of e-commerce adoption barriers to small businesses located in regional areas; consolidated understanding of e-commerce adoption barriers. Practical implications – Significant implications for government organizations engaged in promoting e-commerce adoption in small businesses. This research indicates where and how adoption initiatives should be targeted. Originality/value – This research fills a gap in our knowledge about e-commerce adoption barriers and overcomes some of the fragmentation associated with e-commerce adoption in small businesses.