Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

I was minding my own small business when I received some breathtaking news.

Well, it was breathtaking to the PR people who sent it to me.

The news involved a survey. Surveys always excites me. This one had been conducted among 5,000 so-called decision-makers in small and medium-sized U.S. companies.

The statistic that struck the sponsors of this survey the most? 18 percent of these businesses have turned their backs on accounting software and instead rely on spreadsheets, manual data entry and something called the U.S. Postal Service.

Only 1 in 5 have integrated their accounting software with an invoicing and payments product. Shame on them.

Naturally, I was supposed to be aghast at these statistics. Naturally, I was less aghast that this survey was conducted by a company called Viewpost.

You'll be stunned into counting the hairs on your forearms when I tell you that this company exists "to empower businesses of all sizes with real-time cash management for anytime operating decisions." (I learned that from its press release.)

Honestly, if we didn't have corporate entities to empower us, we'd be lifeless beings, lying on the floor, desperately trying to plug ourselves into any power outlets we could find.

For Viewpost, these survey results incite surprise that so many businesses aren't capable of instantly seeing "how they got to where they are -- a record of passed inflows and outflows."

The company's chief experience officer, Tanya Plotnikoff, offered me some outflow.

She said that small and medium-sized businesses need to know "who will pay them, when and how much. Who is willing to pay them early in exchange for a discount, putting financing in their hands on demand so they can take control of their cash flow."

This, she said, might reduce small-business failure rates. 50 percent of small businesses currently fail in the first 4 years.

But, soft. While this may all be wise, could there be another side to such reticence?

Is it possible that some small businesses are a little wary of being networked to death? Is it possible that they don't want to learn the network's language and systems and be tied to them? Is it possible they wonder how can they get off a network, if they don't like it?

Is it possible they don't trust technology too much? (And with a world bathing in leaks, why should they?)

Is it possible that some small businesses prefer to take an approach that doesn't involve leaping into technological "solutions" for every aspect of management? And why can't tech companies find a different word than "solutions" anyway?

Of course, it could also be that the benefits of such technology haven't been well enough explained.

For example, I went to the About page on Viewpost's site.

Call me strange, but I expected to discover what the company did.

Instead, I found these words: "We have a vision. And it's all about better visibility."

I squinted.

I scrolled down and learned that the company is passionate about what it does, that it delights customers every day and that teamwork is the best kind of work.

Revelations, indeed.

What I wasn't sure of was how the company's services might benefit my small business.

Even when I went to the homepage, I discovered this headline: "One network, with visibility and opportunity for all."

What is this? The Democratic Party Manifesto, as written by Bernie Sanders?

For all what? For all whom? For all time? It sounded like Facebook. That is not a good sound.

Then, in smaller type: "Control cash flow by exchanging electronic invoices and payments on our secure business network."

Ah, I have to get to the smaller print to start learning. I have to work.

But still, might this not sound a little intimidating to some? Indeed, you have to keep scrolling down further to begin to get a gist of the alleged benefits, while all the time wondering -- should you understand it all -- what it might cost.

You see, one of the problems tech companies have is the way they communicate with those who might be uncertain of the services being offered, those that currently use paper and think it works just fine.

It may be that your technology makes running a small business easier. It may be that it's even worth paying for some sort of network that gives an owner more financial oversight of their business.

But small business owners are as wary as they're busy and some are surely suspicious of a company wanting to be everyone's platform.

And tech companies can seem very sure of themselves, while speaking a language that comes across as the self-satisfied code of the cool (which they're not) kids.

That's the survey I'd like to see: what specific forms of communication from tech companies really put small business owners off?

Published on: Mar 8, 2017