From job creation to innovation, small businesses have a big footprint in the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses constitute 99.7% of U.S. businesses and employ 48% of the private workforce. As important, small businesses fuel innovation, generating 16 times more patents per employee than large companies.
Small Businesses Need Technology to Start and Grow—But Most Aren’t Tech Gurus
Today, technology can enable more people to start businesses than ever before. So it’s no wonder that small businesses increasingly view technology as a key driver for business success: 64% agree that digital technologies are changing their industry, and 63% view technology as helping them run the business better or achieve better business outcomes (Figure 1).
Technology plays a vital role in helping people to launch and grow their businesses. But most small business owners started their company to pursue a passion, build financial independence or create a more flexible lifestyle. Whether a plumber, a spa owner or an accountant, it’s likely that these entrepreneurs don’t have the time or interest in becoming a tech guru.
Unfortunately, they also may not have anyone else to pick up the slack in this area. 33% of small businesses don’t have any IT support at all (Figure 2). And when small businesses have IT staff on the payroll, they tend to be IT generalists, not specialists in certain areas, such as security and storage. Despite this scarcity of IT skills, 66% of small businesses take a do-it-yourself approach to deploying technology solutions. This makes technology tasks—such as keeping systems up and running, securing company information and implementing new solutions—challenging.
In addition, many small businesses say just figuring out which solutions will best help their business is one of their top three technology challenges. Given the growing scope of technology solutions available for small businesses, this isn’t surprising.
The Small Business Technology Dilemma
Lack of time, resources and technology know-how means that small businesses may make poor technology decisions—or postpone making any decision at all. For instance, many small businesses take an “It won’t happen to me” approach to security. They underestimate how vulnerable they are to security threats, leaving the business open to potential financial, brand and customer trust risks. Likewise, businesses often miscalculate the cost of downtime in terms of employee productivity and lost sales.
Too often, small businesses realize that they are making less-than-optimal technology decisions when they hit a growth spurt. As the customer base increases, transaction volumes rise and hiring expands, IT shortcomings and gaps become much more obvious—and potentially costly. Without scalable technology in place, small businesses can find it difficult to capitalize just when demand for their goods and services rises.
But hiring IT staff—especially those with specific skills—is expensive. And even if a business can afford the expense, technology personnel often prefer to work in bigger companies that can offer more development opportunities. Small businesses can turn to local solution providers for help, but the quality and scope of services offered by individual providers vary greatly, and it may be hard to find the right fit.
Taking Care of Small Businesses with Dell
Dell Small Business can help small businesses get the answers they need to chart a technology course to launch, grow and thrive. Dell’s dedicated small business advisors in Round Rock, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee, can answer both simple and complex questions, from “What is a server, and how can it help my business?” to “We’re setting up a medical practice. What do we need to do to be HIPAA compliant?” (Figure 3).
Dell’s advisors can provide this type of expertise based on their years of experience serving small business customers, and they can recommend the solutions that will best fit each business’s requirements. As Rakia Reynolds, founder and CEO of Skai Blue Media (a multimedia public relations agency for nonprofits, tech start-ups, fashion designers and other businesses) said, “My Dell Small Business Advisor has gotten to know our business so well that it feels like he’s a part of our team.”
Technology has become a critical business necessity for small businesses. But to get the best outcomes from technology investments, these companies must sharpen their focus and understand what solutions can best help their business. They need to consider individual product decisions, the big picture, and the ongoing investments necessary for a scalable, secure infrastructure that’s ready to meet business requirements.
An expert, trusted resource such as Dell Small Business can answer questions and demystify technology so small businesses have confidence that they’re making the right decisions. With the right technology advice and solutions, small businesses can get more value from their technology investments and spend more time focusing on the business.
Note: This post is sponsored by Dell.