Broken down equipment is worse for small businesses than broken down employees, new research shows.
In a study by the Brother International Corporation, three-quarters of small business owners said a crashed computer is more disruptive than a sick employee. In total, 77 percent of small business owners have had a tech malfunction negatively affect their company through either a missed deadline or business opportunity.
The research shows what a critical role technology plays in the workplace, with more than 85 percent of those surveyed reporting that their office productivity suffered in the past year due to improperly working technology.
Technology issues have become such a problem for some business owners that more than 30 percent would give up a week's worth of vacation to ensure tech malfunctions never happened in their businesses again, while 16 percent would forgo a week's worth of revenue.
"This year's small business survey found that technology is just as important as a healthy workforce," said John Wandishin, vice president of marketing for Brother. "The results emphasize the importance of delivering reliable and easy-to-use products to promote a productive working environment."
The study found that the current shaky economy is keeping many small business owners from investing more money in their technology needs. Nearly half of the small business owners surveyed said they have to stockpile cash to help guarantee their survival during any economic downturn.
Among those small business owners planning to spend more money in 2013, more than half said they expect to prioritize their capital investments on technology tools, such as software, mobile apps and cloud computing services.
Overall, the study found that stress levels remain high among small business owners. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed said their stress levels are higher than usual, up from 55 percent who reported higher stress in 2012. Still, stress has been worse in the past. Just 13 percent of small business owners claimed their stress levels are higher than ever, down from 24 percent a year ago.
"While running a small business is still tough in this slow economic recovery, I'm seeing that small business owners are more optimistic about the future," said small business owner Gene Marks.
The study was based on surveys of 500 U.S. small business owners from companies with fewer than 100 employees.