As a corporate sponsor of SCORE this year, we asked the organization to team up with us on our 5th Annual Brother™ Small Business Survey as a way to better understand what is on the minds of small business owners, especially as it relates to technology and productivity.
We asked those interviewed some questions about their outlook for 2014. The good news is that for the first time in the five years we’ve been conducting the survey, the economy doesn’t appear to be creating as much stress for small businesses owners. Fewer (42 percent) reported a high level of stress about the current economic climate than last year (58 percent). Previous years’ surveys showed a majority feeling high stress levels in 2012 (52 percent), 2011 (52 percent) and 2010 (51 percent). We also found that 82 percent of respondents have a sunny outlook, stating that this year will be better for their business than 2013.
Sixty-three percent said they frequently feel overwhelmed by the number of technologies available to run their businesses, such as new software, apps and cloud computing services. This is why it’s important for companies like Brother to offer easy-to-use office technologies that integrate with a variety of mobile and cloud-based technologies.
An interesting finding is that while investing in new technologies is a priority, small business owners are not sure about the right time. Respondents were split fifty-fifty regarding where they see a greater risk – investing in technology too quickly and not receiving a sufficient return on investment, or not investing in technology and giving competitors an advantage.
When asked if their technology or their company’s employees needed the most improvement in 2014, an overwhelming majority (68 percent) said their technology. This may be why a top priority for 49 percent of small business owners in 2014 are technology-tool related investments. Seventy-two percent believe that new technologies will offer them a bigger return on their business in 2014. Twenty-eight percent noted new employees.
Forty-one percent of small business owners find mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets most necessary to run their business in addition to Customer Relationship Management tools (32 percent), social technologies (21 percent) and cloud services (15 percent).
One of the results revealed that 59 percent of small business owners feel there are insufficient resources for small businesses, or no resources at all, available in their community. Organizations like SCORE help support the small business community, providing advice, coaching, mentoring, education and more for any small business owner or those looking to start. That’s why Brother is proud to team with SCORE to help small businesses find the support they need and to help them take advantage of the opportunities available to them.
The Brother SBO 2013 Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 500 U.S. small business owners of companies with less than 100 employees, between February 21st and March 4th, 2013, using an email invitation and online survey. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 4.4 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.