Network Solutions released the second wave of their Small Business Index (June 2009) and the results are not encouraging.
From January 2009 to June 2009 there has been little improvement in the state of small businesses, which is not unexpected, if you just looks at the front pages of you daily newspapers or web sites.
The Success Index analyzes 6 categories: Customer Service; Compliance; Technology; Access to Capital; Marketing & Innovation and Workforce. Each of these areas was pretty much the same from January to June.
Without access to capital it is extremely hard to run a business. Whether the money is needed for growth or needed to float day to day operations to assist with cash flow, capital is needed.
The technology sub-index of the overall index is based on two factors:
Making technology work and making it run efficiently. Small businesses could do better in taking advantage of technology in their businesses to run more efficiently, but have less trouble making it work effectively for them (see Figure 18 when you download the full report).
The study found that the use of social media (not necessarily the ROI mind you), out of 14 different online technologies, has grown the most. However, the use of email to serve customer needs remains the most widely used technology by small businesses.
It is still quite amazing to me that so many business still do not have web sites. The index asked businesses what is their intention to obtain 14 different online technologies. The top three were:
Social media (14 percent intend to get this)
Online advertising (13 percent) and
First-time company website (11 percent)
My thinking is that businesses of more than one person and/or those that are not “mom and pop” businesses would tend to have a larger percentage of web sites than a smaller, sole proprietor type business.
Many of these smaller businesses still get along with an AOL address and no web site. Think of a small furniture dealer. Their sales are word of mouth. They meet clients in the clients’ offices, most of the time. Clients probably find them through referrals from furniture vendors, architects and others. So the perceived lack of need of a web site is understandable.
However, once they are shown the how much more business they could get by having a web site and minimal online marketing plan, they would probably lose their perception.
Check out the small business index to see how YOUR business could improve and know the state of your peers.
The strategic use of technology as a tool to grow your business is simply ONE important tool in ensuring the overall success of your business. Customer service, sales, marketing, having the right employees at the right time, and managing your cash flow all go into ensuring the success of your business.
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