There are plenty of technology tools available to small business owners promising to help them market and manage their companies better and more effectively. They’re all made to sound simple to use. But for each one, integrating them into a business is far from simple. As a result, something that was supposed to make running the business easier becomes a major problem.

If you’re providing digital marketing services to small businesses, knowing the daily pain points that small businesses have with technology can help you better serve them as a client. Here are 8 technology challenges small businesses face every day.

They Don’t Know What to U





Small businesses want technology to help them communicate better and grow. But nearly one-third (31 percent) of small business owners told Forbes and Cox that they aren’t sure which technology is best for their business. “You don’t know what you don’t know, and people fear what they don’t know. Technology is a good example of that. The choices a business owner makes, including hardware, software, cloud and security procedures, have a big impact on a business. And finding trusted advisors can be daunting, as can finding the right partner or IT employees.”

So you can establish trust and start building relationships with small business owners by simply consulting them on what is needed and what is not.

Implementation of New Technology Is a Pain


How can you implement new technology if you’re not even ready to use it? CDW found that just 17% of small businesses believe they are “ready” to implement new technology. But in a rush to use something that may improve a business, small companies may not realize their company isn’t quite ready.

The problem could be the approach and who’s “selling” the company on using new technology. According to a Harvard Business Review study on the topic:

“Vendors of advanced manufacturing equipment have found in their efforts to help implement the systems they market, new technologies, no matter what their origin, confront managers with a distinctive set of challenges ... Perhaps the easiest way to accomplish this task is to think of implementation as an internal marketing, not selling, job.”

If small businesses are that skeptical of their own readiness to use new technology, they’re just as unlikely to actually buy it. Any sales pitch on new technology needs to stress ease of use and transformation. Address skepticism by stressing where new technology will help the business directly.

It’s Not Working Together






Clearly, small businesses are willing to embrace new technology with open arms. They’ve added accounting software, collaboration software, payments software, productivity software, etc. And when it’s appropriate, new solutions replace old solutions, but the business can’t come to a halt for that to happen. And what’s the point of having all this technology if it’s not going to work with each other?

Managing technology solutions -- namely picking the right fit for each company -- should take into account the ease of implementation. It’s not good if one process works independently of the others. It requires more work. Payments should work with accounting. Accounting should work with the CRM. The CRM should work with marketing, and so on.

According to Babson College’s 2016 State of Small Business in America survey, new technology working with existing technology is a top concern for nearly one in five small businesses.

Study authors write: “Business owners need to have a more transparent way of understanding the range of affordable technology tools in the marketplace ... and how to integrate them into their systems and train up their employees.”

So addressing integration problem and offering a solution to it can make many of the small business owners interested in your services.

It’s Causing Costly Customer Service Problems


Small businesses are leveling the playing field by making use of e-commerce and m-commerce (mobile commerce) technologies.

The ability to process payments wherever is also causing some problems. Data from WePay shows that an increasing number of small businesses are experiencing customer chargebacks and fraudulent payments.

A chargeback is when a customer disputes a payment. The business on the other end usually has to pay money back and lose the item they sold. This has happened to one in four small businesses already. Chargebacks typically happen when a customer claims to have not received an item or the payment was made fraudulently. Other common reasons for a chargeback include problems with the transaction process and product returns.

Fraudulent payments are on the rise, too. At least 8 percent of small businesses surveyed by WePay say they’ve processed at least 10 fraudulent payments.

Small businesses want the ability to take payments from anywhere, do it safely and securely, and have access to their money as soon as possible. So offering a comprehensive payment solution would also make a service provider stand out.

They’re Not Making the Most of the Data They’re Collecting







Every time a small business adds a new piece of technology to its process, it adds another ability to collect customer data automatically. Small businesses are exposed to massive amounts of data about their business operations.

And theoretically they’re in a better position to do something about real-time data than a bigger business. Small businesses are more easily adaptable by nature. But a lot of data is going unused, or it’s used improperly or ineffectively.

A small business owner obviously wants this data, but needs it in easy-to-read and easy-to-react formats. They should be introduced to technology that gives them the info they want when they want it and they need to be educated about what the data means and how to act on it. If this is something you as a service provider can do, it would resonate greatly.

They Can’t Afford Adequate IT Support Staff


Small businesses in the US spent $168.7 billion on IT support and hardware in 2016, according to an IDC study, and this figure is expected to grow. More than 40 percent of that money is spent on hiring or contracting outside IT help.

Data from Indeed.com shows that small businesses are looking to hire tech-based talent but seem to be unable to do so properly. Small business owners struggle to land the tech help they need, including IT support. This struggle -- identified by 84 percent of people at small businesses in a hiring position -- causes business growth to slow and leads to frustrated employees.

So addressing this pain is also something that can resonate with a small business.


They’re Unprepared for Cyber Attacks







Attacks on small businesses are on the rise because hackers know they’re the least likely to have proper safeguards in place. Take, for instance, the recent WannaCry ransomware attack. Far more small businesses could be susceptible to future similar attacks because they’re running outdated systems and software.

Data about that attack shows it was most successful and most targeted at computers running Windows 7. Almost all, that is 98% of the successful hacks, were on computers running the older system which happened to be the most popular OS used among small businesses.

That’s just one way small businesses are under attack. Phishing emails and account takeovers are also on the rise and putting small businesses at risk.

The cost of just one record that a small business holds that’s compromised is on average $174. If a small business’s entire customer index is compromised, the cost can sink a company overnight. Consequently, there is an explicit need for a secure solution.

They Miss Big Trends


Technology is moving quickly. Consider that in 2010, just 5 percent of small businesses were utilizing cloud computing technology. Just three years later, according to data the National Small Business Association (NSBA) Technology Survey, that figure jumped to 43 percent.

A lot is happening in a short amount of time. And if a small business owner has their head down busy with their company, they’re likely to miss a big trend. That trend can have a big impact on their business.

Give a client the pertinent information about a new trend. Tell them why and how it can impact their business. Answer three questions:

  • What’s the potential?
  • How fast can it get started?
  • What’s it going to cost?

A cloud services provider brings invaluable expertise to the small business looking to adopt new technology to help their company operate more smoothly. However, their potential clients -- the small business owners -- may not realize it.

Rather than just suggesting new technologies, service providers should offer to become as much a part of the team as possible. Not only should you be listening to the areas where technology can help, you should be ready with suggestions for the right technology fit and also be ready to integrate it into your client’s business.

Joshua Sophy is an author and editor for Small Business Trends publication. A journalist with 17 years of experience in traditional and online media, Joshua has been covering small businesses for the past 4 years.