As technology becomes an ever more vital tool for small business, the ways that business owners use it continue to change. Usage of newer technology platforms such as cloud computing, smart-phones, tablets and high-speed Internet, for example, has increased greatly over the past three years.
Where does your business fit in with the latest technology-usage trends? Are you lagging behind? Bucking the norm? Riding the wave? Here are some key trends around how small-business owners are using technology to grow their businesses today, according to a new National Small Business Association (NSBA) survey:
• Overall reliance on technology is rising rapidly. In the past 12 months alone, half of all business owners surveyed (most with under 20 employees and less than $1 million in revenue) said they’d become even more dependent on technology. Not a single owner said technology was less important.
• E-commerce gets outsourced. As small businesses fret over online security, there’s been a noticeable drop in the number of business owners accepting credit or debit cards directly online. Instead, more are turning to third-party vendors to manage online transactions. PayPal is a big gainer here, with small-business usage jumping to 47 percent from just 22 percent three years ago.
• Social media soars. Social media usage is also soaring. Three years ago 47 percent of business owners reported they were using social media. Today that figure is 73 percent. LinkedIn and Facebook are the most popular outlets for business purposes. Business networking remains the top reason owners use social media.
• Telecommuting expands. Great-er reliance on technology at small firms has also lead to an increase in the number of business owners who allow employees to telecommute. Three years ago about 44 percent allowed telecommuting, but that’s jumped to over 60 percent today.