Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of small business owners said new technologies will offer a bigger return on their investment than new employees (28 percent) in 2014, according to a survey by office supply specialist Brother International, in partnership with Score, a mentoring organization for small businesses.
The survey also indicated that while the state of the economy is still top of mind for many Americans, the economy isn’t creating as much stress for small business owners.
For the first time in five years, stress levels are much lower, with just 42 percent of small business owners reporting a high level of stress about the current economic climate, down significantly from the 58 percent who felt high levels of stress in 2013.
Previous years’ surveys showed a majority feeling high stress levels in 2012 (52 percent), 2011 (52 percent) and 2010 (51 percent).
"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," John Wandishin, vice president of marketing for Brother, said in a statement. "This is one of the reasons Brother is committed to developing printers, all-in-ones and scanners that integrate with mobile technologies and cloud-based services."
Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, top the list (41 percent) of the technologies small business owners find necessary to run their business. Respondents also named Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools (32 percent), social technologies (21 percent) and cloud services (15 percent) as necessary to their business.
However, 59 percent of respondents stated that there are insufficient resources, or no resources at all, available in their community for small businesses and fewer than one in five (17 percent) have worked with a small business mentor before.
"Organizations like Score help support the small business community, providing advice, coaching, mentoring, education and more for any small business owner or those looking to start," Ken Yancey, CEO of Score, said in a statement. "We want to work with small business owners to help them take advantage of the opportunities available to them."
Small business owners appeared split regarding where they see greater risk–investing in technology too quickly and not receiving a sufficient return on investment, or not investing in technology and giving competitors an advantage.
While technology-tool related investments (49 percent) still top the priorities of small business owners in 2014, 63 percent of respondents (a mere 3 percent less than last year) said they frequently feel overwhelmed with the number of technologies available to run their business.