The modern business industry is at a point where success is impossible without technology. According to an AT&T poll, 66% of small businesses would fail without it. Whether they’re ready or not, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business owners are embracing computer software, mobile devices, and cloud-based services.
Tech: A Worthwhile Business Investment
According to one source, there’s been almost a 50% increase in small business technology spending since 2015, reaching a total of $686 billion in 2017. Business IT services lead the spending pack at $298 billion dollars and business software spending is around a cool $218 billion. And it seems like it’s all worth the money. For example, CNBC found that mobile apps save small business employees nearly 730 million work hours annually, and Microsoft claims that cloud solutions decrease small business workloads by more than 42%.
Besides the obvious efficiency and productivity benefits of tech, business owners are also willing to invest because, according to one Brother International Corporation (BIC) survey, they’re no longer concerned about the economy and are ready to help feed the growing office tech industry. “Our survey shows that a majority of small businesses see a light at the end of the tunnel and are willing to invest in technology solutions to increase productivity and capitalize on new technology trends,” said John Wandishin, Vice President of Marketing for BIC.
Thankfully, business tech tools are also becoming increasingly affordable, making them that much more worth the investment relative to their proven advantages.
Finding The Right Tech Solutions
However, the business of making other businesses more efficient is already an oversaturated market, making it difficult for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and freelancers to parse through the noise and find the tools that will be most useful to them and provide the greatest return on investment.
For some business owners, this leads to stunted growth and paralyzed investment strategies. For example, nearly half of small businesses still don’t have a website, 80% of small businesses are still using a manual integration tool, and nearly 30% don’t have any kind of IT support.
Why are so many still stuck? It turns out that a majority of business owners agree it’s extremely difficult to decide which software will meet all their needs, which is likely one big reason for the lag. “With thousands of technology solutions available for each of the various stages of your sales and marketing needs, scoping out the requirements of your tech stack is more critical than ever,” says Kathleen Atkins of Akoonu. “Creating your tech stack usually must go beyond what you already know, as there’s thousands of options and new technologies emerging constantly.”
Kathy DalPra of Bride Appeal agrees. “While it’s crazy cool that the era of technology has made it so easy to be digital, the vast number of tools at our fingertips can leave any busy business owner feeling a bit intimidated.”
It’s also been found, however, that 71% of people ask peers for recommendations when it comes to tech tools worth investing time, bandwidth and/or money in, so we decided to conduct a survey of our own. We turned to our trusted community of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners across a number of industries, from wedding to real estate, and asked them about the tools that are essential to their success.
According to Lisa of Lisa Robbin Young, “as more creative entrepreneurs build an online outpost for their business, the conversation always comes back to technology at some point.”
We quickly found that there are tools for nearly every department, including Administrative, Website, Sales & Marketing, and Workflow Management. Some tools and software services, including QuickBooks, were able to satisfy and improve a variety of business needs, making them true power players.
Check out all the tools below! And don’t forget to tell us about the tools that keep you growing.
A very special thanks to our expert community of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and business owners who participated and contributed to this survey:
Krystallin Baker: TurboTenant
David Searns: BARQAR
Joyce Jagger: The Embroidery Coach
Avneet Narang: Cogneesol
Angela Rust: schoolofbookkeeping.com
Lorraine Ball: Roundpeg
Sheila Kloefkorn: KEO Marketing
Michelle Ward: When I Grow Up
Kylie Browne: Get Organized Wizard
Alan Melton: Small Business Coach Associates
Sabrina Morresi-Quairoli: Sabrina’s Admin Services
James Clark: DATIS
Ismail Nalwala: IOTAP
Lisa Young: Lisa Robbin Young
Lidiane Mocko: Mocko Consulting
Andriy Burmistrov: MagneticOne Mobile
Kristen Stasko: The Sophisticated Gal
Bjorn Peterson: Flex Business Capital
Nijat Huseynov: Mill for Business
Kristina Romero: WP Care Market
Kathy DalPra: Bride Appeal
Bob Dunn: BobWP
Lisa Sicard: Inspire To Thrive
Rachelle Rea Cobb: Rachelle Rea Cobb
Latasha Peterson: Arts & Budgets
Colin Newcomer: Colin Newcomer
Teryn O’Brien : Teryn O’Brien
Marianne Manthey: Design Your Own Blog
Leslie Samuel: Become A Blogger
Toby Nwazor: My Startup CEO
Carolyn Miciano: Carolyn Miciano
Kathleen Atkins: Akoonu
Adrian White : AMW Site Designs
Mac Frederick: Momentum
Terri L. Maurer: Maurer Consulting Group
Carolyn Crummey: VirTasktic
Lillian Panettiere: Mercer PeoplePro
Melanie Radcliff: Melanie Radcliff CPA, Inc.
Karen Cummings: Radiant Marketing
Nina Froriep: Clock Wise Productions, Inc.
Brad Plothow: Womply
CUE Team: CUE
John Cline: Fitli
Michael Ly: Reconciled It
Spencer King: Cover Wallet
Doug Fowler: Waypost
Katina Panagiaris: DBC Interactive
Rebeca Gonzalez: South Street & Co.
Brian Pifer: Small Business Majority