Quick pop quiz: Which businesses are the major drivers of the U.S. economic recovery? If you answered “startups,” then you are correct.
Despite their size, startups have accounted for about 40 percent of new jobs in the U.S. private sector over the past 20 years, according to the Small Business Administration. Not only are startups driving the recovery, but I’d say they’re also reinventing the country’s economic landscape.
Evidence comes from the 2013 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll, which found that companies less than two years old rely much more heavily on technology than older, more established firms to run their operations, reduce costs, and market better.
This is especially true of wireless technology. One-third of small businesses less than two years old say they “could not survive” without wireless, compared to 17 percent of companies that have been in business for 11 years or more.
So, what can these tech-minded entrepreneurs teach the rest of us? Here’s what I’m thinking:
1. Hit the road with smartphones
The number of smartphone users in the U.S. has surpassed 137 million, according to eMarketer, and it’s expected to approach 200 million in the next three years. Younger business owners have been quick to take advantage of this technology. The vast majority (87 percent) of start-ups consider smartphones an important tool, more than any other type of small business.
Why? My guess is that start-ups understand a smartphone is really a supercomputer in your pocket — meaning that wherever you go, your office goes, too. Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of start-ups use mobile technology to be productive when they’re away from the office, compared to 38 percent of older small businesses. And 50 percent of these young companies use smartphones to manage business processes vs. 14 percent of older ones.
2. Use Wi-Fi to sync devices
As a mom with little ones running all over the house, I’m continually dealing with clutter. Office clutter is another pet peeve of mine. The fewer wires, the easier it is to get your business done. Among other benefits, a wireless Internet system allows you to move devices without hassle, upgrade software on the fly, and access Wi-Fi hotspots anywhere in the world. And if you run a retail store or any other business where people gather, a free Wi-Fi hotspot can help bring traffic through your door.
Recognizing this, startups are implementing Wi-Fi from day one. In the AT&T Tech Poll, 78 percent of start-ups said Wi-Fi is important to their business, compared to 42 percent of more established small companies.
3. Speed problem solving with online tech support
As I noted in a previous post, small businesses have embraced cloud tools and services to avoid the expense and difficulty of creating their own IT infrastructures. They also know online tech support provides an excellent way to lower IT costs and keep operations running smoothly.
Using wireless technology, technicians can access your computer system remotely and make fixes quickly, no matter your location. They also offer a level of expertise that most small businesses simply can’t achieve on their own. Just over two-thirds (67 percent) of start-ups consider online tech support important to their business compared to 42 percent of older small companies.
Whether you work from scratch or upgrade an existing operation, wireless technology can deliver significant advantages. Businesses of all ages and sizes would be wise to follow start-ups’ example.
Do you have any secrets from your playbook that you would like to share? I’d love to hear what you have to say.