Small Businesses Grow Optimistic, Move to Mobile Devices

Small businesses are gaining mobility, embracing mobile technology and cloud services to keep their businesses running.

The majority (88 percent) of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) polled in a survey by cloud services specialist j2 Global are optimistic about their businesses growth for the remainder of 2013, compared to 76 percent last year.

More than 2,500 small business owners and employees in the United States who are eVoice, eFax and Campaigner customers responded to the survey, which revealed additional insights into the forecast for the rest of 2013.

Survey results indicated savvy small businesses are also gaining mobility, embracing mobile technology and cloud services to keep their businesses running. In fact, 53 percent could see themselves working entirely from an iPad or tablet within the next year.

Small businesses still cite email marketing as their top tool for their 2013 marketing strategies. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a close second, but down from the top spot in 2012. However, social media may be on the decline as well--14 percent saw it as the least important business marketing strategy in 2012, while this year one-third of small businesses (33 percent) put social media in their bottom two priorities.

In addition to email’s lead in marketing initiatives, email is also the top mobile phone activity for small businesses, but it barely beats out the mobile phones’ traditional use of regular phone calls. While some industries are getting back to the basics, mobile business app usage is up overall, with 34 percent of those surveyed using five to 10 apps for business on a daily basis, compared with only 17 percent last year.

As businesses are more optimistic than ever, Millennials remain the most optimistic generation, with 94 percent optimistic for business growth this year, up from 85 percent last year. Optimism decreases with age, but is up across all generations: 91 percent of Gen X and 87 percent of boomers are optimistic--up from 81 percent and 71 percent, respectively, last year.

The survey also indicated that as optimism for business profits increases, so may hiring trends. When it comes to which generation small businesses are most likely to hire in the coming year, 43 percent look to Millennials first, 30 percent would pick Gen X and and 4 percent said they would look to Boomers.

"The modern workforce is more mobile than ever. And whether it’s in the office, on the train, or on the couch, small business owners are pushing forward with increasing optimism," Mike Pugh, vice president of marketing for j2 Global, said in a statement. "Cloud and mobile solutions are a catalyst within these small businesses, allowing them to work hard, but on their own terms. Tech-savvy owners are forecasting a bright future as they lead the charge in technology adoption and push us toward a more nimble and productive mobile economy."

When working outside the traditional office, more than one in three (34 percent) small business owners say they’re most productive while commuting to and from work--whether their commute is in the car, bus or on a plane. In addition, more than one-quarter (27 percent) of respondents said they travel at least once a month for business.