While a vast majority—72 percent—of small business owners say new technologies will offer a bigger return on their investment than new employees will in 2014, 63 percent say they feel overwhelmed by business technology choices.
The data comes from a survey released yesterday by business machines maker Brother International and the small business mentorship group SCORE. The partners contracted Wakefield Research in January to poll 500 owners of U.S. companies with less than 100 employees.
The survey results reveal that small business owners largely agree that technology will increase efficiency and keep business running smoothly, but they are having a tough time keeping up with the latest innovations. Half of owners are concerned that investing in technology too quickly risks sufficient return on investment, but the other half worry about losing a competitive edge by not adopting new technology early enough.
"Our survey shows that while small business owners understand the value of new technologies, they are still a bit overwhelmed and struggle with choosing the right time to adopt them to have the greatest impact on their business," says Brother marketing VP John Wandishin.
Nevertheless, technology will be the top investment priority of small business owners this year, with 40 percent naming smartphones and tablets the most important tools for running the business. Many also consider customer relationship management programs, social technologies, and cloud services to be crucial.
A majority of small business owners would also welcome a little help in grappling with the latest tech. Fifty-nine percent of respondents report insufficient small business resources, or no resources at all, in their communities. Fewer than 20 percent have worked with a mentor, and only 14 percent listed small business organizations such as SCORE as a source for support.
Though technology choices might be stressing them out, at least the economy is causing less anxiety. Survey responses indicated that small business owners are experiencing less economy-related stress than they have in years. A majority of owners reported high levels of stress about the economic climate the past five years the Brother-SCORE survey was conducted. This year, just 42 percent did.