Modern Technology Lacking in Most Small Businesses

By Jason Bramwell
 
Although a little more than half of small business owners who were recently surveyed by online marketing firm Yodle Inc. use technology for accounting, only a minority use automated technology for other key business operations, such as appointment booking and scheduling, customer relationship management (CRM), and acquisition marketing.
 
Earlier this summer, Yodle polled 306 US small business owners across a large array of service industries for its inaugural Small Business Sentiment Survey. The survey examines small business owners' perspective on such issues as modern technology use, professional and personal worries, work-life balance, and government and institutional support.
 
"We have served small businesses for eight years and always want to stay as informed as possible so that we can best understand their state of mind and challenges," Louis Gagnon, Yodle chief product and marketing officer, said in a written statement.
 
Asked about their technology and marketing approaches, 51 percent of small business owners use modern technology for accounting, followed by 39 percent who use technology for appointment booking and scheduling, 34 percent for CRM, 25 percent for point-of-sale systems, and 14 percent for acquisition marketing. 
 
Almost one in four (23 percent) of small business owners report they don't spend any money on marketing, while just more than half (56 percent) spend less than $500 a month. 
 

Additional Key Survey Findings

  • Fifty-two percent of small business owners work forty hours or less, however, 39 percent work between forty-one and sixty hours per week, and 9 percent work more than sixty hours a week. 
  • Seventy-two percent take at least two weeks of vacation per year, 27 percent take four or more weeks of vacation per year, and 11 percent take no vacation.
  • Seventy-three percent of small business owners believe the federal government is more of a hindrance than a help. Although some respondents identified several institutions as helpful, such as trade associations (34 percent) and banks (26 percent), 39 percent do not think any organizations - including those specifically established to support them - are useful.
  • What are the top three effective marketing channels small business owners use for finding new customers? Number one is word of mouth (78 percent), followed by business referrals (54 percent) and business websites (31 percent).
 
Another area within technology and marketing in which small business owners are lacking: websites. According to the survey, 52 percent of small business owners do not have a website, and 90 percent do not have a mobile-optimized website. 
 
Small business owners also reported significant professional and personal worries.
 
Their top professional worries include:
  • Finding new customers (42 percent)
  • Affording health care and other employee benefits (39 percent)
  • Keeping current customers (33 percent)
  • Paying bills for the business (33 percent) 
More than six in ten respondents (61 percent) also stated they think the Affordable Care Act will have a negative impact on small businesses. 
 
The top personal concerns for small business owners are:
  • Affording health care (48 percent)
  • Saving for retirement (46 percent)
  • Providing an adequate lifestyle for their family (33 percent) 
But despite these concerns, 91 percent of survey respondents said they are happy to be small business owners, including 55 percent who are "extremely happy." A majority of small business owners (59 percent) also shared they would likely not consider selling their business over the next few years, indicating optimism and satisfaction.
 
About the survey:
For its inaugural Small Business Sentiment Survey, Yodle Inc. commissioned an online survey in June 2013 through a third-party research firm to measure the true sentiment of small business owners. The 306 small business owners surveyed from across the country own small businesses in a variety of white- and blue-collar industries, ranging from financial services and law to construction.
 
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