By Jason Bramwell
What's driving growth for small businesses? According to 72 percent of small businesses surveyed recently by SurePayroll Inc., it's technology – not new hiring – as more companies are doing business online now than a year ago.
In its July 2013 Small Business Scorecard survey, SurePayroll found that as many as 84 percent of small businesses are using new tools, such as their company website, online advertising, and software-as-a-service providers, to streamline business and help them grow.
The survey also found that 73 percent of small businesses are using the company website to sell products or services, 42 percent are using online advertising, and 27 percent are using tablets to showcase products. More than 60 percent are using social media, as well as online services, to streamline business. Seventy-seven percent said the company website is the most effective selling tool, followed by smartphones at 64 percent.
"Technology seems to be driving this jobless recovery in the small business economy", SurePayroll CEO and President Michael Alter said in a written statement. "We've seen this trend for a while now, and our data [in July] really supports the idea that small businesses are leveraging technology to be more efficient, so they're able to grow without hiring."
Month-over-month SurePayroll Scorecard data showed hiring was down 0.1 percent, and the average paycheck was down 0.2 percent. Hiring was down in every region of the country except for the South, where it was up 0.1 percent. Paychecks were flat in the South and down across the rest of the country.
Year over year, hiring nationwide is down 1.7 percent, and paychecks are down 0.1 percent. The South is the only region where hiring is up at 1.5 percent, but paychecks there are down 0.1 percent. The West shows a hiring decline of 3.2 percent, with paychecks down 0.7 percent year over year. Hiring in the Midwest is down 3 percent, but paychecks are up 3.6 percent. In the Northeast, hiring is down 3.9 percent, and paychecks are down 2.3 percent.
The economic outlook for the small businesses surveyed remains high at 72 percent, up from a year-over-year low of 45 percent in September 2012.
About the survey:
As the first economic indicator created by a payroll company, the SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard has provided a monthly look at national hiring and paycheck trends since September 2004. The scorecard compiles data from small businesses nationwide and exclusively reflects the trends affecting the nation's "micro businesses" – those with an average of eight employees.