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Small Business Digest


Technology Trumps Employee Absences As Cause For Concern By Small Business Leaders

Tech malfunctions are a greater problem than employee absences for small business leaders.

That is one of the conclusions from the Brother International Corporation fourth annual “Brother Small Business Survey,” which examined the role of technology in small business.

This year’s survey most notably found that a surprising 75 percent of small business owners indicate that a crashed computer is more disruptive than a sick employee.  Seventy-seven percent noted that a tech malfunction has negatively impacted their business through a missed deadline or business opportunity. 

Survey results also revealed that while technology plays a vital role in terms of office productivity, 66 percent of small business owners say they are frequently overwhelmed by the amount of technology available to help them run their business, and 86 percent additionally noted that in the past year, office productivity suffered due to technology not working properly.  In fact, 31 percent of respondents went so far as to say that they would give up a week’s worth of vacation to ensure tech malfunctions never happen in their business again.

“This year’s small business survey found that technology is just as important as a healthy workforce," said John Wandishin, Brother Vice President of Marketing. “The results emphasize the importance of delivering reliable and easy-to-use products to promote a productive working environment.”

Cloud Computing: Only 28 percent of small business owners said they completely understand the concept of cloud computing. And while 42 percent of respondents said they are not using cloud computing at all, 35 percent said they were using it only for data storage. Small business owners also noted using the cloud for document management (21 percent) as well as business applications like customer relations management and accounting and human resources (17 percent).

Small Business Owners Outlook: While stress levels among small business owners remain high in general (58 percent in 2013 vs. 55 percent in 2012), “extreme stress” seems to be down.  Those claiming that their stress levels are at their highest levels ever (13 percent) is down almost half from last year (24 percent).  However, 41 percent of small business owners felt that their 2012 turned out worse than expected. 

Investment: The survey measured a slight uptick (48 percent vs. 44 percent in 2012) in small business owners feeling the need to stockpile cash to help guarantee that they could survive any economic downturn. However, 52 percent believe that investing in their business can give them an advantage over competitors.

When asked about business investments, 51 percent of small business owners said that they prioritize technology tool-related capital investments such as new software, mobile apps and cloud computing services.  Machinery-related (21 percent) and facility-related investments (20 percent) were other areas of priority.

Survey Methodology: The Brother SBO 2013 Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 500 U.S.  small business owners of companies with less than 100 employees, between February 21st and March 4th, 2013, using an email invitation and online survey.

Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 4.4 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

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