Female SMB owners are feeling more positive about being in business than their male counterparts and are driving the uptake of social media for business, according to new research.
The Sage Business Index 2012, compiled from 502 surveys of business owners around the country, found female business owners are also less likely to defer important business decisions as a result of economic uncertainty.
Compared to male business owners, women are less likely to battle to find skilled staff and more likely to have formal plans in place to manage staffing issues. They’re also more focused on sales as a business priority at the expense of technology and web presence compared to last year.
Across all businesses, Sage found significant pessimism about the Australian economic recovery, with just one fifth of businesses reporting they believe the domestic economy is recovering while over four in ten (45 percent) stating the economy has declined in the past twelve months.
In addition to this, 89 percent of men and 87 percent of women believe the state of the domestic economy will have a detrimental effect on the future growth of their businesses.
Social networking still in infancy
The survey found that both male and female business owners recognise social media as a key area for generating customer demand going forward.
Just over 50 percent of business owners agreed that businesses who use Facebook of Twitter to engage with customers will be more successful than those that don’t, but a same number said they don’t understand how to effectively use these social networks to promote their business.
Facebook penetration among business is 24 percent and Twitter penetration is at 11 percent. Just one in six businesses said they actively communicate with customers via Facebook and one in 12 said they actively use Twitter it as a communication medium.
Unsurprisingly, the greatest social media advocates are female business owners and younger owners and managers. These two groups are two-and-a-half times more likely to have a Twitter account than all businesses and two times more likely to have a Facebook account for their business.
Cloud comprehension still lacking
The Sage Business Index also found businesses are still confused when it comes to the cloud. Only half of all businesses had even heard of the cloud before the survey and just one in five said they mostly or completely understand what cloud means in practice.
The main barriers to adoption of cloud computing include limited perceived benefits, confusion about the potential savings or benefits, uncertainty as to how to implement a solution and a belief that their business “isn’t the sort that could make use of the Cloud.”