Brother International Corporation, in partnership with SCORE (a small business mentor), in March released results from their fifth annual Brother Small Business Survey for 2014. One of the biggest surprises revealed by this year’s survey is that a whopping 72 percent of small business owners indicate that new technologies will offer a bigger return on investment than hiring new employees. This echoes a similar sentiment revealed in a 2013 survey from the National Small Business Association, where 70 percent of small business owners said that keeping up with the latest technology in their industry was going to be critical to the success of their business. According to the 2014 Brother survey, 49 percent of small business owners consider technology related investments to be a top priority for their business operations.
However, despite the resounding belief of small business owners that technical upgrades are essential to business success, the Brother survey reveals that 63 percent of respondents frequently feel overwhelmed with the number of technologies available to run their business. In fact, small business owners are divided 50/50 on whether they see the greatest risk in investing in new technologies too quickly so that they don’t receive a sufficient return on investment or whether it lies in failing to invest in the technology, thereby giving competitors a distinct advantage.
So what type of technologies are small businesses focusing on this year? In terms of the tools that small business owners currently find necessary to run their business, mobile devices (including tablets and smartphones) top the list at 41 percent. Other critical technologies that are considered a worthwhile investment include customer relationship management or CRM tools (with 32 percent of respondents citing them as necessary to their business), social media technologies (21 percent of respondents) and cloud services (15 percent of respondents).
The Brother Small Business Survey canvassed 500 U.S. small businesses with less than 100 employees. The NSBA Small Business Technology Survey collected data from 845 small business owners representing every industry in every state in the nation.
Finch, Curt. “The Right Tech Is the Best Tech: Choosing Technology to Advance Your Company.” Small Business Trends. 5/7/14.
National Small Business Association (NSBA). “2013 Small Business Technology Survey.”