For many small business owners, branching out on their own was all about having their own autonomy. But the demands put on them to be everything from the receptionist to the IT professional is one of the biggest challenges they face, according to a new survey by eVoice®, a virtual phone number service offered by j2 Global, Inc., (JCOM), the provider of cloud-based services for businesses.
“There’s only so many hours in the day to balance running the business and not having the business run them,” says Mike Pugh, vice president of marketing at j2 Global. “Small businesses are struggling with the fact that they have so many different hats to wear in order to make their business run.”
According to the survey of around 400 small business owners, while performing multiple roles was cited as the number one challenge, a close second was not having enough time in the day to get things done. In fact around 25% of respondents say they would pay $500 for an extra hour in the day while more than 90% say they would pay $100 for that extra hour.
Another challenge facing small business owners: keeping up with technology. The survey found that 30% of respondents cite keeping up with changes in technology as the biggest IT challenge facing them, while 16% named a lack of IT support as the largest obstacle.
“Many folks did not get into business because they are IT experts,” says Pugh. “They have a passion for bicycles or building things, IT is not their most favorite role.” Small business owners say they don’t want to struggle with IT tools, they want programs and hardware that is easy to use and deploy, according to the survey. “They want IT solutions they don’t want IT involvement,” he says.
Underscoring the need for simplicity, almost half of respondent say they plan to move more business services to the cloud this year. In addition to moving more functions to the cloud, survey respondents are embracing mobile devices and applications. Nearly three-quarters of small businesses polled say they have become more mobile during the last two years. While increased mobility means small business owners can be more productive when they are out of the office, it also poses a challenge to conduct business on the fly. Thankfully there are tons of apps both for iPhone and Android users to manage their businesses and even access their desktops from the road.
Pugh says Internet based tools and software applications can eliminate the need to spend all night in front of the computer pouring over spread sheets or doing payroll. Small businesses can choose from service providers that will do things like payroll management and marketing to cloud based applications that will help them easily manage customer relationships and billing. “There are a lot of tools that allow them to get out of the office and still be able to run their business from anywhere,” says Pugh.
As for finding easy to use technology applications, hardware and services, Pugh says the best way to find that is via word of mouth. “Most business owners trust like-minded small business owners over anyone else,” says Pugh, noting that tapping social media and online networks is the best way to get recommendations for those easy to use tech tools that will alleviate some of the challenges of running a small business.