How Small Business Owners Are Wrecking Their Own Chances Of Success
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself drawn to an article on Amex Open Forum. The link to get to it was titled “Are You An Ignorant Small Business Owner?” Certainly not!, I huffed. Then – Wait, am I?
Having read the article, by marketing specialist Rieva Lesonsky, I was relieved to discover that – at least by her measures – I was doing OK: we have a great website, we use social media, we’re figuring out how to “mobilify” appropriate elements of our services. But I was shocked at some of the statistics she cited, especially a survey by Yodle , an online marketing platform, that showed only about half of small businesses have websites. I went to look at the survey from which that figure was drawn, and found even more sobering stats about small business owners non-use of technology. This from an article on Yodle about the survey:
Many small business owners are still not adopting modern technology and marketing approaches. Although just over one in two SMB owners (51%) use technology to help with accounting operations, this dwarfs technology utilization for appointment booking and scheduling (39%), customer relationship management (34%), point-of-sale systems (25%), and acquisition marketing (14%). Additionally, more than half of SMB owners do not have a website (52%) or even measure the results of their marketing programs (56%).
And the Yodle survey showed that only about 1 in 10 small businesses have figured out how to use social media or online advertising to market their product.
And lest you think this doesn’t matter, because – after all, how many small businesses can there be? Well, here’s what the SBA has to say about the part small businesses play in the American economy:
- The 23 million small businesses in America account for 54% of all U.S. sales.
- Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs and 66% of all net new jobs since the 1970s.
What’s the disconnect? Why are small business owners not using cheap (in many cases free), readily available technology to better establish and grow their businesses? I know that when I’m looking for a local business to deal with – from a handyman to a florist, a restaurant to a seamstress – the first place I look is online. And if I find that the store or restaurant or service provider doesn’t have a website – or has one that clearly hasn’t been updated since 2003, or doesn’t provide an email address or phone number on the home page – I discount it immediately. I assume (rightly or wrongly) that the enterprise is unprofessional and low quality.
I suspect, in this era of Amazon, that lots of other people are doing this same thing, and coming to the same conclusions. This article places the number of people in the US who shop online at 75M – and I’m not even talking about shopping online; I’m just talking about going online to find a brick-and-mortar place to shop or a service provider to deal with in person.
I’m truly puzzled by this. When building a nice website, getting a Twitter account, putting yourself and your business on LinkedIn LNKD +0.43% or Facebook FB +1.62%, and getting a Yelp YELP -1.37% presence or putting up a free account on Angie’s List are all relatively easy and painless – and can immediately create the sense that your business is a legitimate enterprise and give you access to lots of potential customers…why don’t small business owners do it?
Do they think people don’t care? Are they convinced their customers aren’t online? Are they intimidated by the web?