There are 23 million small businesses in the U.S., and those small businesses have increased their budgets and are looking to spend more money this year. Why? Because they expect 2015 to be a good year -- a year with both increased profits and revenue growth. How do we know that? A recent survey conducted by Wasp Barcode Technologies of over 1,000 small business leaders tells us they feel confident in the economy and that they expect their companies to perform even better this year.
With dozens of investment opportunities available, here are the three areas the 2015 State of Small Business Report identified as top priorities for SMBs.
For 2015, here are a few of the various technologies businesses have stated they’re looking to implement:
Network security topped the list of IT investments in 2014 and remains a top priority in 2015. Considering the number of data beaches to hit the news in 2014, it’s no wonder businesses are looking to protect their customers’ data. The fact is that small businesses are just as vulnerable, maybe even more so, than their larger counterparts and they expressed this concern in a recent Manta survey, “31% of small business owners said they are concerned about having customer credit card information stolen through a point-of-sale breach.” And their concerns are legitimate. According to a recent McAfee survey, 60% of all cybercrime is now directed at small businesses.
As businesses look to invest in new technology tools, thorough knowledge of potential security risks and vulnerabilities is imperative to successful implementation. Don’t just act without putting into place policies that protect both your company and your customers. Here are just a few expert tips: monitor your credit, install anti-virus and anti-malware software on all devices, physically secure your equipment, and, most important, educate your employees on risks and best practices.
Additionally, 59% of small businesses see their websites as an important part of their business; however, over half said less than 11% of their annual revenue in 2014 was generated online. This is a fantastic chance for SMB marketing departments to revitalize their websites to showcase products, especially if the website design’s focus is geared to use in the mobile environment. 46% of SMBs use email (the 2nd most widely used marketing tool) to reach customers; combining personalized email with an easy-to-use website will drive revenue growth by attracting and retaining new customers – for 46% of small businesses that’s exactly how they expect grow in 2015.
Another reason small businesses are hiring is because their concerns about the new healthcare laws are diminishing. Economists who had predicted small businesses would stop hiring because of the mandate to provide insurance to employees seems to be diminishing. As small businesses leaders were able to see exactly what insurance premiums looked like under the new law, their worries decreased. Now that there’s more competition among insurance providers, the premium increases are much lower. John Arensmeyer, CEO of Small Business Majority, stated, “There used to be regular double-digit, sometimes triple-digit premium increases and now we’re seeing increases of often under 5%.”
Most SMBs have chosen one of three options when it comes to insuring employees:
As a small business owner, in order to grow a successful business, you will need to make investments in your company’s future. Luckily, it looks like 2015 holds plenty of opportunities for you to do just that. Hire new staff to provide better, more quality service to your customers. Invest in marketing – don’t just rely on free methods anymore. If your products are sold in a traditional brick and mortar, revamp your website to offer your full product line on the web. And, lastly, invest in technology products that will improve your business efficiency, help you serve your customers better, and pay dividends in the long-term. Tools like CRM systems and BI tools will allow you to make better business decisions, maximize your current opportunities, as well as turn future prospects into new customers. These types of investments not only improve your business, but they can provide a significant advantage over your competition.