In the face of a recent downturning economy, small businesses were working to maintain their businesses. Growth was a secondary consideration, the flow of cash suffered, and capital expenditures were avoided, according to a new eMarketer report entitled, “Small Businesses as B2B Customers: Ready to Spend, but Only if Given Good Reason.”
The report sought to answer the following questions concerning small business owners’ (SBOs) technology and spending plans:
- How do SBOs feel about their finances?
- Does how SBOs see their finances mean that they seek to invest for growth?
- What is on SBOs’ technology upgrade lists?
- How do SBOs feel about the vendor marketing aimed at small businesses?
- What are SBOs’ sophistication levels regarding using technology to self-market?
With what has been described as a “healthy 2014” as part of the economic recovery, revenue gains are being banked and SBOs are predicting even more increases. Today, SBOs are focusing more on growth than on survival, enabling firms that sell goods to small businesses—particularly technologies that most companies need to improve their business—to flourish, according to the report.
While technology is on many SBOs’ shopping lists for 2015, SBOs are not looking to pay for technology unless they are convinced of a meaningful bang for their buck. For example, an October 2014 survey for Manta of its online small business community involved asking its SBO members to create to create a holiday gift wish list. A “new computer” was on the top of the list, outpacing new customers or money for their businesses.
Of the SBOs surveyed by PNC Financial Services Group between July and September 2014, some 36 percent indicated that they planned on increasing spending on technology in the next six months. American Express indicated that 57 percent of SBOs were planning some type of capital investment in the next six months, with technology in the most cited category, wrote eMarketer. When asked what capital investments SBOs seek to make:
- 20 percent indicated: Office equipment
- 13 percent indicated: Manufacturing/production equipment
- 12 percent indicated: Office furnishings
- 9 percent indicated: Real estate investments
Although some SBOs revealed that they planned on reducing their technology spending, those businesses are in the minority. In fact, a September 2014 survey conducted by Cargo, an advertising agency that assists large companies to sell to small companies, nearly twice the number of SBOs surveyed said that they expected to spend more for computer equipment.
Computers may be a thing of the past to today’s consumers who are using smartphones more and more, but to small businesses, computers remain an important business tool, according to May 2014 polling conducted for Microsoft by Ipsos Public Affairs. SBOs indicated that technologies “would be prioritized for upgrades if resources were available,” with laptops and desktops at the top of the list (35 percent), much higher than mobile devices (11 percent).
eMarketer; Technology Tops Small Businesses’ Shopping Lists, Computers among the most-desired technology for SBOs; January 16, 2015.