Small Business Survey: Technology, Community Involvement Key

A survey released yesterday by HP indicates that small businesses are planning to ramp up their technology investments. The survey also confirmed the trend toward women owning small businesses and that many small business owners enjoy being able to give back to their communities.

Small business owners identified operations, customer relations and employee relations as their core challenges, according to the survey that was conducted by Harris Interactive® and released in conjunction with National Small Business Week events being held in Washington, D.C. Nearly 400 small businesses nationwide were polled in early March.

More than half the respondents were women, who reported that being a role model, teaching others and giving back to their community are key motivators. Wealth was less important to women when considering whether to start their own business.

Survey respondents identified technology as being key to their success. Eighty-one percent plan to increase technology spending in a variety of ways (for example, company websites, online services and weblogs) over the next two to three years. Small businesses that plan to increase overall technology spending anticipate doing so by 20 percent on average.

Most of those responding said community involvement was essential to them. When asked what they liked most about being a small business owner, 72 percent said making a contribution to the local community. The survey found that small businesses support their local community most commonly by making financial donations to charities (79 percent), hiring employees from their local community (64 percent) and volunteering their time (64 percent). In addition, those who use a local company for technology service and support said their No. 1 reason for doing so was because they prefer supporting local businesses (85 percent).

John Rutledge, chairman and economist of Rutledge Capital, a private equity investment firm in Greenwich, Conn., told the New York Times that the Hewlett-Packard study had huge implications for the economy because small businesses account for half of the gross domestic product and for three out of every four new hires.

"It means more growth, more productivity, more employment," he said. "They are all going to grow faster than Wall Street thinks. I think this is going to continue for some time, so you don't want to bet against the economy."

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