If you’re a small business owner, then no doubt you’ve been grappling with the question of how best to integrate technology into your operations in a sensible, cost-effective manner. Salesforce has just released the results of a new study, “2016 Connected Small Business Report,” surveying more than 300 small business owners in the United States to better understand the role technology plays in their organizations and how they sell, service and market to their customers. According to the study, most small business owners are still relying on outdated technical solutions to their basic operations, despite the many options available to them.
What does this mean to you? Well, first of all, you should know that you’re not alone. Most small business owners are just as in the weeds as you may be, facing an overwhelming number of options, without an IT department to direct them. But on the flip side, it also means you now have an opportunity to take advantage of some great resources to help you elevate your business to the next level of productivity and profitability.
Let’s have a closer look at some of the key study findings and their significance for you and your business:
“The majority of small business owners are responsible for their companies’ technology buying decisions—and they are price sensitive.”
Not surprisingly, most small business owners wear many hats, including the responsibility for purchasing all of their technology. Price is usually the most important factor, followed by convenience and compatibility with their current infrastructure.
“For small business owners, the most important factors in purchasing technology include price (74%), convenience (43%) and compatibility with their current infrastructure (37%).”
Technology is usually a small part of their overall budget, with the majority of that expense going towards hardware and financial software, such as accounting packages.
Takeaway: Think about customer relationship management (CRM) solutions that integrate a number of functions into one product. When evaluating technical options, have a look at your overall needs and create a checklist of the most significant areas that could benefit from some measure of technological assistance or automation. Once you begin your research, you may be happily surprised to find out how many tech solutions are out there that seamlessly integrate multiple functions under one roof, saving you both time and money.
“Most small business owners still rely on outdated tools and processes when it comes to connecting with their customers.”
Despite the widespread availability of CRM software, most small business owners are still relying on outdated tools and processes when it comes to connecting with their customers.
“For tracking customer information, small business owners primarily use email (44%) and spreadsheets (41%)—and the numbers are similar for managing sales opportunities.”
Newer technologies, such as business process automation, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), are not yet being widely adopted.
Takeaway: You have a tremendous opportunity to get ahead of the curve and differentiate yourself from other businesses in your industry by adopting cutting edge technical tools. Now is the time to start exploring your options for implementing a CRM, developing a strong social media presence and utilizing business analytics or business intelligence software.
Overall Observations and Conclusions
While there are certainly real challenges to be faced in today’s economy, most surveyed business owners say they would still make the decision to start a new business if they had to choose again. That being said, the impact of the economy continues to be a significant concern, along with lack of time.
“Not having enough time in the day (35%) and the impact of the economy (34%) are among the top business-related issues small business owners face.”
Given all of the resources currently available, it makes perfect sense to begin exploring your technological options now. We can all stand to make more money and save time while we’re at it. Implementing a CRM will make your business more competitive as it helps you save time and increase your profits by improving the overall efficiency of your business.
For a closer look at the new Salesforce study, click here. And stay tuned to these pages as we continue to investigate new technologies and tools of benefit to small businesses and entrepreneurs!