America’s small and mid-sized businesses are shifting their focus away from maintaining the status quo to implementing new innovations and hiring skilled tech workers, according to new research by CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the information technology (IT) industry and workforce.
The return to a growth mindset is reflected in both SMBs’ positive outlook on business prospects and their technology investment plans, detailed in CompTIA’s “SMB Tech Buying Trends,” a survey of 650 U.S. companies with fewer than 250 employees.
“After two-plus years of being on the defensive simply trying to stay in business, SMBs are back to strategic, revenue-generating thinking centered on innovation, hiring additional tech staff and investing more in training and certifications,” said Carolyn April, senior director, industry analysis, at CompTIA.
Hiring skilled workers to drive strategic goals is cited as a top objective by 39% of respondents, up from 25% in 2021. Similarly, 38% of SMBs seek to innovate and implement new ideas and innovations, compared to 26% last year. These more aggressive goals align with generally positive attitudes about the current state of business.
Eight in 10 SMBs express positive sentiments about the health of their business, with 51% holding steady and 30% thriving. They’re also generally positive about the outlook for the next 12 months. A net 53% are very or somewhat optimistic about prospects for their industry, and even more bullish about their own companies, with a net 60% expressing optimism.
“These positive feelings are tempered by concerns about inflation, recession, supply chain challenges and other macroeconomic issues,” April said. “But the attitude of many SMBs appears to be that while you can’t control world events, you can plan to better withstand them; by building cash reserves, developing a system of backup suppliers for goods and services and continuing with marketing and innovation efforts.”
Just over half of SMBs (52%) report a technology spending level appropriate for their business objectives, while the remaining 48% fall into the camps of believing spending is too low or too high for various reasons. Annual spending on technology falls within the range of $10,000 to $250,000 for two-thirds of SMBs.
“The gap between spending reality and real spending need is a perennial issue for SMBs, who are constantly managing resource allocation,” April noted. “But if the strategic mindset about business goals and the role technology plays in attaining them continues apace as it is now, business owners will hopefully realize that committing to further investments will be key for success and help buttress them against another unexpected body blow.”