SCORE Small Business Blog

Is Technology Passing Your Small Business By?

In the 30-plus years I’ve been writing about small business, one thing has leveled the playing field for entrepreneurs more than any other: technology. But too many small businesses are failing to take advantage of the edge technology can bring, according to The Center for the Urban Future’s just-released study, Smarter Small Businesses.

The study focused on New York City small businesses because 90 percent of small businesses there have fewer than 20 employees. As such, the area is a microcosm of the challenges facing the average small business owner. Here’s some of what the study found:

  • Only about two-thirds of small business owners in the study have a website or use social media to advertise their business.
  • Only half of companies with three or more employees use an automated payroll service.
  • Just 37 percent of retail and hospitality businesses use an automated point-of-sale system.
  • Two-thirds of business owners use social media.
  • Neighborhood-based retail and service businesses were the least likely to be using technology effectively; the report estimated fewer than 20 percent are.
  • 60 percent of small business owners with lower to moderate income levels didn’t have a professional-sounding email address with a domain name tied to their business.

The older the business owners, the less likely they were to use technology effectively. But, higher-income business owners were more likely than those with incomes under $55,000 to have a website and use other technology tools (81 percent vs. 59 percent).

Small business owners are aware of their shortcomings—more than half of those in the survey admitted their use of technology wasn’t sufficient to keep them competitive.

While many said the cost of technology kept them from adopting it, in my opinion, you can’t afford not to use technology. How can you make smart choices? Four steps:

  1. Determine what tech tool (whether that’s computerized bookkeeping, an email marketing program or a point-of-sale system) would have the greatest effect on your sales
  2. Create a list of desired technologies in order of importance
  3. Assess how much money the particular technology would cost, as well as how much it would potentially save or bring in
  4. Prioritize your purchases and buy what you can

Whether you’re considering investing in a smartphone, a laptop or sales software, technology costs are dropping by the day. If you’re getting by without key technology just to save a few hundred dollars, you’re being penny-wise and pound-foolish.

The mentors at SCORE can help you create a technology plan for your business—no matter how tech-clueless you are. Visit the SCORE website or call 1-800-634-0245 to get matched with a mentor and get free business help.

Rieva LesonskyCEO, GrowBiz Media
Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. | @rieva | More from Rieva

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