Entrepreneurs are passionate about their businesses and are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. They're smart, clever, and dedicated to meeting the needs of their customers with the best possible product or service they can offer. So it's no surprise that most have begun to realize that without a substantial investment in technology tools to help manage daily business operations, it will be difficult for them to take their businesses to the next level.
Palo Alto Software surveyed approximately 500 small business owners about their technology habits and plans for the future, and found that small business owners are willing to invest more than ever in new technology applications. Here are the top three small business technology trends today:
1. They're spending more on tech
Modern small business owners no longer operate as traditionally as their peers in years past. Today, they're motivated to run their businesses efficiently and effectively with the best technology possible. According to the survey, 81 percent of small business owners say they're planning to invest in more technology in the year ahead. What's more is that they're willing to spend a lot -- almost half (48 percent) said they're willing to spend over $5,000 throughout the year and 31 percent said they'd invest more than $10,000.
While small business owners are more tech savvy than commonly perceived, most are focusing on the basics when it comes to the type of technology in which they're willing to invest. When asked to rank the top tools they're looking to purchase over the next year, email marketing ranked first, followed by business management and accounting. Sure, these types of investments are still fairly traditional, but these priorities illustrate that small business owners are smart and risk-averse. They are carefully planning for the future by focusing on the technology they actually need to manage and grow their businesses.
2. They operate in the cloud
Most of the technology tools small business owners favor are cloud-based. The survey found that over a third (37 percent) of small business owners say they run over half their business in the cloud and 44 percent use more than two cloud-based tools to manage their company's daily operations. What's more is that 81 percent say they would be willing to pay more for a tool that combined data from multiple systems for the time savings and increase in efficiency.
Small businesses are beginning to realize the benefits of cloud technology, and those that truly take advantage will be better off for it. Not only is it more cost-effective, but using cloud-based tools helps small businesses with collaboration and time savings. Integrated systems ensure that all executives and employees have access to the same information and that the information is consistent across systems and channels. Cloud tools can help small businesses better track finances, complete projects, execute marketing campaigns or manage customer relationships.
3. They're more mobile than ever
Small business owners are more mobile now than ever before. In the age of online-only businesses and smartphones, office space is no longer a necessity for small businesses to operate. According to the survey, 89 percent of small business owners currently use a smartphone to run their businesses occasionally, and 56 percent reported using tablets. While these numbers are high already, almost two-thirds (63 percent) said they plan to increase their use of mobile devices in the year ahead.
It's important for small business owners to be able to run their businesses on the go. Entrepreneurs, after all, are passionate about their product or service and meeting the needs of their customers, wherever those customers are located. They should be able to run their business and continue to work with customers to evolve their business offerings simultaneously. Widespread smartphone and tablet use makes this easier than ever. All too often, small business owners get stuck in the office managing their business' daily operations rather than working with customers to pursue the passion that inspired them to go into business in the first place.
My advice for small business owners who are not planning to increase or update their technology is to reconsider. The decision to update technology is the best one you can make as a small business owner today and one that will undoubtedly have long-term benefits for your company. Not only will your team be able to operate more collaboratively and efficiently, but as an owner and entrepreneur, you'll be able to focus more on growing and developing the business you're so passionate about.