A whopping 84 percent of American small businesses and start-ups see greater growth opportunities at home than abroad, according to research by Dell and Intel released Monday.
Of the business owners surveyed, more than half expect their sales and finances to improve, and 77 percent say their growth is largely dependent on technology. The data, gathered during Dell's nine-city Business "Think Tank" tour, was gleaned from more than 940 interviews with U.S. small business decision makers in nine cities across the country.
While 89 percent of small businesses and start-ups reported being satisfied with how their technology needs are currently being met, 41 percent report struggling with tech needs that are increasingly complex. One-third said they consider a dedicated IT staff to be crucial for success, yet only 15 percent have actual IT personnel on staff. Instead, 47 percent handle IT themselves and 42 percent outsource those needs to freelancers.
"Small business owners are now more dependent than ever on technology for growth since their customers and employees are so geographically dispersed," said Barry Moltz, small business consultant and author, in a press release. "This technology challenge is becoming increasingly difficult with customers and employees expecting to be able to access information from anywhere, and on any device."
Another big concern, according to the business and start-ups surveyed, is the U.S. economy's impact on small business. Concerns about inflation plague 28 percent, while 33 percent eye interest rates and 39 percent are wary about the global economy.
With economic and technology concerns in mind, across all metro areas most start-ups and small businesses are holding steady, with 76 percent neither hiring nor firing. The hiring outlook is brightest in Chicago, where one in four small businesses are looking to take on new employees, and the San Francisco Bay Area, according to the report. Seattle reported the lowest rates of hiring over the last three years (24 percent), as well as the lowest rates of business looking to hire in the future (16 percent).
"Entrepreneurs and small business owners tend to be most comfortable hiring freelancers or interns that they can 'mold' into potential full-time employees as their business grows, but many struggle when they get to the stage of needing someone with more experience who can take over some of their own duties," said Abbie Lundberg, president of Lundberg Media, in a press release. "The key to success is to identify the constraints that are holding the business back and to design a job around that."