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Grow Your Business Technology

AT&T's Anne Chow on Why Small Businesses Shy Away from Early Tech Adoption

Technology evolution
Credit: VexWorldWide/Shutterstock

Technology evolves quickly and it's not always easy to acclimate – especially for small businesses. However, early adoption could make or break your business.

According to a new survey by AT&T, 75 percent of small business owners are eager to embrace new technology, but 30 percent find it hard to adopt.

Anne Chow, president of National Business at AT&T, believes that small business owners shouldn't make technology their primary focus, but they should have a plan to implement new tech on an ongoing basis.

"Tech is not the pipeline," she told Business News Daily. "It's the lifeline."

Chow added that, while many small businesses feel they aren't in the position to adopt such costly trends, technology has the power to make a small business big.

Still, the AT&T survey found that 38 percent are late adopters. Here are four reasons small business owners are often late comers to new tech adoption.

It's no surprise that small businesses don't have the same resources as larger ones. But because of this, many small business owners don't think they need to worry about fancy software or preventative services.

"As a small business owner, time and money are your resources," said Mazdak Mohammadi, owner and founder of blueberrycloud. "You make up for your lack of money by using your available time, and vice versa. New technology should either help save time, [or] increase revenues. If either one of these benefits is not clearly guaranteed, it is hard for the business owner to risk the limited time and money they have to try new technology."

High cost is especially a concern. Smaller businesses earn lower profits, so it's difficult for them to adapt with a budget that doesn't support it.

"Most of small business owner run on a shoe string budget; we do not have extra fund to experiment," said Alice Kao, co-owner of Alice's Smokehouse. "Unless the solution is well proven and cost effective, small business owners like me will steer away from it."

"There are numerous benefits to adopting new technology, however, most small businesses lag behind for one main reason – cost," added Marco Cirillo, CTO and founder of Kibii. "For me personally, onboarding and implementation require significant upfront investment ... Budget is often very tight for small businesses that are trying to cut down on costs, and implementation of new technology is just the first step."

Many small businesses thrive on their independence and their ability to operate without the stress of relying on others. However, when implementing new tech, many businesses become dependent on certain products or services, which can feel uncomfortable for small business owners.

"We don't want to be overly dependent on a system if there's a chance it could ever go away or become a financial liability," said Nick Haschka, CEO at The Wright Gardner. "For example, it would be very harmful to our business if Google decided to ten times the price on their GSuite product line."

Haschka added that this also creates a single point of failure. When you're dependent on a system, even minor issues can negatively impact your entire business.

Rebecca West, owner of small interior design company Seriously Happy Homes said small business owners aren't always exposed to new tech. Cirillo agreed, noting that this lack of awareness is a common reason why companies are slow to adopt.

"The sheer range of innovative products and services in the market is extremely intimidating for small businesses that aren't familiar with the tech space," he said.

Kao stated that with the learning curve, the concern of disrupting current work flow, and the question of whether new tech is reliable and maintenance-free, many small businesses owners don't integrate unless it's absolutely necessary.

James Pollard, owner of a marketing consultancy that works with financial advisors at TheAdvisorCoach.com, said that he's hesitant to adopt new technology for his business because he's already on track to meet his business and financial goals without doing so.

"If there's an upward trajectory and everything is going well with the stuff I'm already doing, why rock the boat?" he said. "Is there a chance that I could reach my goals quicker with new technology? Sure, but there's also a chance that I could slow don't my progress."

Many small business owners share this outlook, believing that integrating new tech with a process that's already successful might cause more harm than good.

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't working as a Purch B2B staff writer, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. The only time Sammi doesn't play it safe is when she's writing. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.