If you’re starting your own business or currently work for a start-up, you wear a lot of hats. Any disruption in your business can eat up hours of your time and kill your productivity. Many start-ups are so focused on getting their business off the ground, that they overlook technology considerations that can help increase their productivity and enhance their efficiency. Unlike mid to large corporations that have dedicated IT personnel, start-ups typically do not have in-house IT resources to evaluate and deploy new technologies to pre-empt unforeseen issues, such as virus attacks, and streamline processes to increase efficiency gains. This is due partly to time and partly due to budgetary constraints. Small businesses want to focus on the next sale, not the next purchase. Largely for this reason, many small to medium businesses (SMBs) are categorized as laggers on the technology spectrum — classified as conservative IT buyers and slow adopters of new technologies. This profile make it seems as if SMBs are risk adverse, when in actuality, SMBs are more risk takers than corporate employees – after all, they’ve started their own business or are part of a start-up where the P&L is felt throughout the company.
So why are so many SMBs behind on the technology spectrum? As mentioned, without dedicated IT personnel making system recommendations, SMBs are on their own in terms of finding out the latest and greatest products. They need small business solutions that are affordable and scalable, and most importantly, do not disrupt business operations. Without the luxury of having dedicated IT resources, SMBs do not have time or the desire to seek out the latest gadgets or attend tradeshows featuring next-gen products.
This begs the question: how do SMBs stay on top of new technologies that can help them run their business more effectively? The technologies have to come to them: bring the new products to the SMB community.
The big trend with major hi-tech vendors in the past 2-3 years has been building marketing initiatives to tap into the SMB market. To many companies, the SMB space is still a gray cloud: how do SMBs behave and what are their demographics? Each company has its own definition of an SMB: ranging from less than 100 employees to less than 1000 employees. Many hi-tech manufacturers have beta programs, usability tests and focus groups to collect feedback on how SMBs react and behave. Many of these programs offer very attractive incentives such as free product, cash, corporate branded giveaways “tchotchkes” in exchange for some form of market validation: user feedback, quotes for a press release, or customer references to serve as real world proof points. These exchange opportunities are always available – one just has to know where to look.