Expert Advice for Medium and Midsize Businesses

3 Things SMBs Worry About, and 3 They Don't

Guest Author

By Julie Zisman, Senior Director, North America SMB Marketing, Oracle

I’ve been working with small to medium businesses for a while now, and there’s one question I keep asking myself. What drives someone to start their own business?

It not only looks tough. It is tough. Problems from work don't just disappear when you put your head on the pillow. The SMB leaders I know tend to lose a lot of sleep.

That's why, here at Oracle, we commissioned Inc. magazine to survey more than 300 SMB owners, managers, and strategists. We wanted to uncover: What’s keeping you awake at night?

Some of the worries were not revelations—but, to our surprise, a few things that we thought might be causing nightmares turned out not to be major concerns. Here are 3 things that SMB leaders worry about, and 3 they don’t.

3 Things That Are Big Worries

[Click the image at left to see the full infographic]

1. Building and Maintaining a Team

Talent issues turned out to be the biggest worry for the SMB leaders surveyed. 42% of respondents said they were "extremely" or "very" worried about hiring the right people to grow their business. Compensation packages were a related concern, with over a third of respondents placing this issue at the top of their worry list when it comes to teambuilding.

2. Sales, Sales, Sales

You don't really have a business until the money starts coming in. So, of course, SMB leaders are obsessed with sales. Nearly 40% cited sales as their number one overall concern. When faced with the question, "Are we making the most of all our possible sales channels?" more than 48 percent put themselves either in the "extremely" or "very" worried categories.

3. Growing Pains

Growth is what every business strives for; no one starts a business to remain small, but small to medium businesses often lack the resources to manage growth in a profitable way. More than 37% identified themselves as being either "extremely" or "very" worried about their ability to gain market share as they grow and evolve. Scalability, sustainability, and getting to market on time are among their major concerns.

3 Things That Are Not-So-Big Worries

1. Technology

Technology turns out to be a help, rather than a cause for concern, for most SMBs. It was encouraging to see the many places that technology could play a role in reducing their stress levels. Comfort with the cloud demonstrated that SMB leaders are starting to "get it" when it comes to biz tech.

2. The Cloud

On a related topic, the SMB leaders surveyed clearly have embraced the cloud. When asked if they thought their businesses would survive a move to the cloud, 81 percent were in either the "little" or "no" worries categories. And they feel confident that their employees would embrace the cloud, if they haven’t already.

3. Data Backup and Security

With all of the headlines about data breaches and cyber terrorism, you might have thought this would be a top worry for respondents. But it wasn't. Two-thirds of respondents were either "not" or only "somewhat" worried when asked if they felt safe putting financial and customer data in the cloud. This confidence might be misplaced in some cases, as we’ll examine in a later article.

In the coming days, we’ll have lots more insights into the survey results—so stay tuned for future updates, and check out the related stories over at Inc.

For more insights, read the results from the Inc. survey.


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