SCORE

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, your small business cannot grow unless your technology is up-to-date.

Staying current is getting harder all the time, as tech seems to be in a state of continuous evolution.

Think this doesn’t really matter for small business like yours? Think again.

Check out the findings from the most recent Small Business Index survey from Gallup and Wells Fargo, to see what technologies other small business owners will be using this year—and see how you stack up.

The past

In the past two years, here are the tech changes entrepreneurs have made:

  • 48 percent upgraded their computer software
  • 37 percent stopped using paper files and records and digitized their businesses’ records
  • 24 percent made their websites more mobile-friendly or created a mobile app
  • 20 percent expanded their e-commerce capabilities
  • 15 percent started using marketing automation tools

The present

This year entrepreneurs plan to:

  • 53 percent will likely update their business websites
  • 29 percent will probably update their business software
  • 51 percent will grow their online presence and
  • 51 percent will increase their social media marketing
  • Only 44 percent of small business have a social media strategy

The importance of social media

  • Important for attracting new customers—54 percent
  • Important for attracting for marketing to existing and new customers—53 percent
  • Important for advertising—52 percent
  • Important for growing revenues—49 percent
  • Important way to stay in touch with current customers—49 percent

Time to Upgrade

There are some areas small businesses are lagging. For instance, of those surveyed, only 26 percent have websites where products/services can be ordered without interacting with an employee. If this sounds like your website, it’s time for an update. Look into adding live chat, chatbots, self-scheduling apps and other self-serve options so your customers can help themselves, saving you a lot of overhead costs.

Your website and any online marketing, including email and content marketing, needs to be designed for mobile devices.

Using marketing automation tools will help you reduce or eliminate many of the tedious tasks you currently do by hand.

You can use these tools to automatically send emails when customers take certain actions, or to send yourself reminders to contact a client in your CRM system you haven’t talked to for a month. You may not even have to spend money to update your software—your current email marketing solution probably has automation features you aren’t aware of.

A mere 15 percent of those surveyed expect to hire an IT consultant or outside advisor to assess their tech needs and plan for updates.

While outsourcing IT may seem like an unnecessary expense, think about the cost of not getting expert advice.  Making the wrong tech decisions (buying the wrong software or not adequately protecting your network) can cost you dearly.  

And you can also get free advice from your local SCORE mentor, who can refer you to local IT experts to help.