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SBOs Need to Focus on Technology

by Cynthia Kay

I have often believed that small business owners are flexible, responsive and willing to try new things. They are also pretty optimistic when it comes to their businesses as reported by the NSBA’s Mid-Year Economic Report. But the big question is whether they are optimistic enough about business to spend money and where will they spend it. A 2014 report that looked at capital investments in general by American Express OPEN found” 57% of SBOs were planning some in the following six months. Technology was the most-cited category.”

That is the case with my small business and I believe others. We are in the process of installing a new server. It seems that we are always buying new computers, iPads and other mobile devices. We recently did a refresh on our website and are in the midst of a Goggle AdWords campaign. While some small business owners recognize the need to commit dollars to technology many SBOs ignore this critical area.

In fact, I was astounded to discover a pretty sizeable minority of small companies lack something as basic as a website. In a Gallup/Wells Fargo survey, 59% of SBOs said their company has one. So why are small businesses not keeping up with even the basics?

You don’t need a study to figure this one out. Most small businesses do not have an IT professional on staff constantly making recommendations to keep the business current. As a result, small business owners may be missing out on efforts that could move the business forward. The use of appropriate technology has huge benefits. In organizations where there are simply fewer hands to do the work, technology can help small business be more efficient by automating processes. Technology can also help a business market products and services in a cost-effective way. So how can small businesses find the best technologies?

It all starts with finding a great IT resource. I recommend that you really do your homework here. If you belong to a small business organization they may have already vetted resources and negotiated a discount. I also think fellow business owners can provide great recommendations or at the very least tell you who to stay away from. That sentiment was echoed in a report by eMarketer. It said, “Owners are most interested in the experience they and their peers have. In a September 2014 survey by The Alternative Board, “personal trial and error” far outranked “demonstration by the vendor”—64% vs. 36%—as a means of giving them confidence in a product or service. Elsewhere in TAB’s survey, nearly half cited “other business owners using the product/service” as the factor most influencing their purchases.”

No matter what source you use, it is important that small businesses focus on technology. If you want to grow, be efficient and keep up with customer’s expectations you have to keep pace with technology. As business hopefully continues to improve now is the time to focus on technology. It’s even more important for small and medium size businesses than our larger counterparts.

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