Mobile applications are helping America's entrepreneurs save time and money, increase revenue and productivity, work more effectively and better serve their customers, a new survey of small-business owners shows. With an app for almost every business need, small-business owners are rapidly turning to mobile technologies ― involving everything from GPS navigation to credit card processing ― to help run their enterprises.
The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council had research firm TechnoMetrica look at the stunning growth in mobile technologies and why owners of businesses with less than 20 employees are turning to mobile devices and apps to solve key business challenges.
The study found a strong migration to mobile devices, with nearly half of small businesses now using smartphones, compared with well under a fifth of the general population. Increasingly, small businesses are moving away from desktops and laptops toward smartphones and tablets.
More than three-quarters of small-business owners (78 percent) say mobile apps are saving them significant time each week, researchers found. Their estimates of the weekly savings came to an average of 5.6 hours.
They are also saving employee time. Half the small-business owners in the survey said at least 5 employee hours are being saved on a weekly basis.
The survey estimated that the use of mobile apps by small businesses results in 725.3 million hours saved annually, which translates into an estimated $17.6 billion annually, based on average pay for employees in small business.
If all employer firms with fewer than 20 workers were to take advantage of mobile apps, the survey authors said, the annual savings from reduced employee hours would be $56.9 billion.
The time saved has enabled small businesses to increase their focus on sales growth. Nearly 50 percent of the respondents to the SBE Council survey reported they've been able to spend more time on growing business revenues due to their use of mobile apps. And 51 percent believe that the use of mobile apps has made their firms more competitive.
The move to mobile is no flash in the pan, the survey found. The success that small businesses have experienced with mobile apps has heightened their interest in these tools. Half of the survey respondents said they plan to increase their app exposure within the next six months by getting more apps or continuing to use their currents apps.
So which mobile apps are small-business owners using? According to the survey, GPS navigation and mapping apps (68 percent) are the most popular, followed by apps for contact management (46 percent) and remote document access (41 percent).
This is followed by travel planning (32 percent), banking and finance management (30 percent), social media marketing (27 percent), location-based services (23 percent), invoicing and time tracking (22 percent), delivery and shipment management (18 percent), expense tracking (17 percent) and processing credit card payments (13 percent).
"The spread of mobile apps among small businesses, and the commensurate savings in terms of time and money, is another wonderful example of how innovation and investment in the private market create opportunities and savings for entrepreneurs, their employees, and, ultimately, for consumers," Raymond J. Keating, the SBE Council's chief economist, told BusinessNewsDaily. "Technology continues to level the playing field so that the little guys can now more ably compete with the bugbig guys in the business world."
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Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.