How Small Business Owners View Technology
John M. Haddad
Earlier this year, a study was conducted by Brother and SCORE showing that 72 percent of small business owners said that this year, they expect new technologies to yield a bigger return on investment than hiring of new employees.
This doesn’t surprise us, since we do see many small business owners embracing various technologies, but in many cases they are embracing them because they were advised to buy them by their Internet Service Provider (ISP) or a friend, and no business value was clearly understood.
When we meet with business owners, we find that while these businesses bought the technology, they don’t know how to use it or never really needed it in the first place. For example, I recently met with a client who had been paying for a monthly service he was told he needed, but didn’t know why. We advised him that the service added no value, which in turn, saved him over $400 per year.
I would like to discuss the results of that survey and advice for small business owners who may be overwhelmed with technology choices available.
Small Businesses overwhelmed by technology choices
The study found that a majority of small business owners, 63 percent, said that they felt overwhelmed by the number of technology choices available to them. While technology vendors maintain a furious pace of innovation, small businesses are getting left behind. They just don’t have the time or bandwidth to keep up with all the changes.
Small business owners aren’t only struggling to make technology work for them, they’re drowning under the sheer number of options. Often, they simply lack the time, expertise and guidance to properly evaluate the technology landscape and make informed decisions about the solutions that truly address their problems. In many cases, we find that small business owners” don’t even know what they don’t know.”
Timing is key
Timing is also a factor, not to mention a source of friction. Small business owners are split 50/50 in deciding to invest in technology too quickly and not receiving a sufficient return on investment, or not investing in technology and giving competitors an advantage.
In working with my clients in larger companies, I found that that many would just implement the latest and greatest technologies without really evaluating business value. Others would have technology that was several years old, which created risk to the business and loss of competitive advantage. In many cases, those who were on the “bleeding edge” of technology found that adopting the technology too soon ended up to be a costly proposition because, either the technology had too many bugs causing updates and rework, or the technology never caught on and died a slow death (anyone remember Windows Vista?).
We find that many small business owners are a bit overwhelmed and struggle with choosing the right time to adopt them to have the greatest impact on their business. At Bisinet Technologies, we advise our clients not to just implement “technology for technology sake”. We help small business owners decide whether or not the technology is mature, if the technology has business value and how the technology integrates with their current business environment.
Small business owners needing help
In the survey of small business owners, 59% said that resources are insufficient or not available in their communities. Just 17 percent of those surveyed said that they worked with a mentor or small business IT consultant. However, in the same survey, 49 percent placed technology as a top investment priority for 2014. Given the booming popularity of smartphones and tablets, mobile devices came in as the number one tool (41 percent) that small business owners rely on to run their business. Technologies such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management), Social Media and Cloud also placed high on the survey.
At Bisinet Technologies, technology and your business are our top priority. We have a passion for technology and how that technology can help your business. We help small business owners use technology to help reduce expenses, increase revenue and manage risk. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss how we can help.