It’s common to hear how large global brands are affected by business and technology trends like artificial intelligence, changing customer expectations, and data privacy concerns. But how do these trends affect unsung – but much more numerous – small businesses? What compels someone to take the entrepreneurial path in 2019, and how do they grow a successful business? How do gender and age affect the entrepreneurial experience?
To uncover the answers to these questions and more, we surveyed more than 2,000 small business owners and leaders across the globe and packed the results in the latest edition of our latest Small & Medium Business Trends Report. The full report is chock-full of fascinating small business statistics, but here are a few key findings that piqued my interest.
1. The new generation of entrepreneurs is more likely to side-hustle
Thanks to the rise of online marketplaces, video conferencing, and low-code/no-code and out-sourced development, it’s easier than ever to run a business from your home. When starting a business, millennials and Gen Zers are 188% more likely to have the aim of creating a side business, compared to baby boomers/traditionalists.
Compared to baby boomers and traditionalists, millennials and Gen Zers are also 48% more likely to say they started their business because they had an idea they were passionate about bringing to the marketplace. A side business is a great vehicle for exploring personal ambition while maintaining the stability of a traditional job. The extra income can be attractive as well — millennials are twice as likely as baby boomers to be saving to pay off debt.
2. Self-discipline is key to the entrepreneurial mindset
It’s no secret that running your own business can be as exhausting as it can be rewarding (our statistics show that small business owners are personally responsible for an average of 4.2 roles) — so keeping an eye on the prize is critical. Small business leaders say the most necessary quality to possess is self-discipline — the “stick-to-itiveness” required to see a business through good times and bad.
Self-discipline will only go so far on its own. Rounding out the top three desirable characteristics for small business owners are communication/people skills and personal passion.
3. Price is not the end-all and be-all when looking at new technology
As an entrepreneur, time is money. Fifty-nine percent of small business leaders express difficulty implementing and rolling out new technologies, making technologies that are easy-to-use, from vendors who can be trusted, the top decisioning factor when evaluating new tech.
Now, price certainly still matters for small business leaders (it’s “extremely” or “very” important to 61% of them), but vendor trust and ease of use come out on top.
4. CRM is the top small business tech priority
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are the top technology priority for close to a third of small businesses, followed by financial software and hardware. This seems to be part of a recent trend of CRM gaining traction in small businesses: 45% of all SMB leaders use a CRM system, and nearly three in five of those leaders using a CRM (62%) have had it for less than two years.
The biggest benefits for small businesses using CRM are the ability to offer faster customer service, report generation, visibility for multiple users, and generating more leads.
5. AI is poised for big growth in small business
Artificial intelligence (AI) went from being a sci-fi-only concept to the prize all global brands are eager for. But AI is no longer just for big business. Although only 8% of SMBs are using AI today, it appears the technology’s adoption across smaller businesses will accelerate fast in the near future: Almost half (46%) of SMB leaders believe their businesses are ready to use AI and an additional 32% of small businesses have plans to implement AI, representing a potential growth rate of 310% over the next three years.
That wraps up this summary of my favorite small business statistics from the new Small & Medium Business Trends report — but there is way more to be found within its pages. If you’re interested in benchmarking against other small businesses, getting a sense of the landscape, or seeing what differentiates growing businesses from stagnant ones, make sure to download the free report.