Countless surveys over the last five years (such as AT&T’s small business technology poll) have revealed a steady increase in small business dependency on technology, from smartphones to wireless devices.
Surveys have also consistently shown a drop in small business hiring, as small businesses are forced to be savvier with their funds. For example, this year’s SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard found that the national Hiring Index has dropped amongst small businesses by 1.7% in the last year (and has much as 3.9% in the struggling Northeast).
This simultaneous drop in hiring and rise in technology seems to have a strong correlation, and a recent survey may reveal that in some cases these two are directly connected. The growth of affordable and user-friendly technology and software seems to have enabled small business owners to take technology matters into their own hands, and hold off on hiring for longer periods of time.
The National Small Business Association (NSBA) 2013 Small Business Technology Survey surveyed hundreds of small business owners, and found some very noteworthy statistics on both hiring and technology.
This year 74% of small business owners report using smart phones for business—up significantly from 57% percent in 2010. The same is true of laptops; 67% of small business owners used them for business in 2010, now 84% of small business owners depend on one.
When asked how important technology is to the success of their company, 70% of respondents said it was very important, and 50% of respondents said they have become even more dependent on technology in just the last year.
While technology dependence increased, small business owners also seem to have improved their ability to manage technology on their own. The NSBA Technology poll surveyed the small business owner’s role in managing their own technology, including online presence, cyber security and tech support.
When asked who is responsible for managing their tech support, many entrepreneurs were more confident handling it themselves than they were several years ago:
More entrepreneurs handled tech support themselves:
- 2010: 25%
- 2013: 40%
Fewer entrepreneurs hire a staff member to handle tech support:
- 2010: 36%
- 2013: 32%
Even fewer owners hire and outside company to handle tech support:
- 2010: 36%
- 2013: 24%
Small business owners followed the same exact pattern with regards to maintaining their small business website; while in 2010 many entrepreneurs hired a staff member or outside company to manage their website, the number of owners who independently manage their web presence has jumped by 18% in 2013. Meanwhile, the practice of hiring employees or companies to manage their business website dropped by 9% and 11%, respectively.
While cyber security is a fairly new and complex issue, it appears that almost 40% of business owners manage that challenge on their own as well.
How far will this trend go? With resources like CustomDocs, will fewer small business owners need attorneys? And with software such as QuickBooks, will entrepreneurs hire accountants less often? Only time will tell, but signs surely point to a continued increase in small business empowerment through technology.
Source: National Small Business Association 2013 Small Business Technology Survey (http://www.nsba.biz/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Technology-Survey-2013.pdf)