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Small Business Survey: Growth Without Hiring, Thanks to Technology
 

E-commerce, smartphones and file-sharing are keeping small businesses optimistic, even as hiring is down.

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Small businesses are in recovery. And, in a trend we’ve been following for more than a year, they’re growing without hiring, thanks in large part to adoption of technology.

The July results of the SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard further confirm this trend, showing small business hiring down slightly (0.1 percent), but optimism high at 72 percent. When asked if they've changed their strategies to adapt to an increasingly technology-based economy, 76 percent of small businesses said they have.

Tech Solutions Are Popular

In an economy in which even some giant companies have struggled to make the transition from in-store to online sales, 72 percent of small businesses said they are doing more business online today than they did a year ago. More than 70 percent are using their company website to sell products and services.

Many are incorporating other new tools to improve the efficiency of their businesses, including smartphones for instant communication (54 percent), online advertising (42 percent), online tools such as GoToMeeting or Dropbox (34 percent) and tablets to showcase products (27 percent).

Hiring Takes a Hit

In many ways, thanks to technology, it is easier, faster and cheaper to run a business than ever before. Small businesses are able to serve more customers in a shorter amount of time with less overhead costs.

The downside for hiring is that, for the small businesses we survey, most of which have 10 or fewer employees, they’ve become more productive without needing to hire, barring some major turnaround in consumer demand.

This trend of technology as a driver of growth isn’t going to slow down either. An overwhelming 84 percent said these tools have helped them grow. And we’re already seeing the next phase of this technological movement, which is in mobile.

If they aren’t already, soon owners will be able to both run their businesses from anywhere, and sell their products or services to people on a phone or tablet. It’s a model that is both cost-efficient and requires less manpower.

It’s an exciting, yet challenging, new phase for the broader economy but, as a small business owner, you need to ask yourself what you’re doing to grow through technology.

What are the most effective tools you’re using? Are you ready for the next phase?

IMAGE: Shutterstock
Last updated: Jul 31, 2013

MICHAEL ALTER is president of SurePayroll, America’s leading online payroll service. He received an MBA from the Harvard Business School and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Northwestern University.
@michaelalter




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