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Startup Saturday: Top Small Business Trends and Wish Lists for 2014

[ 0 ] Dec. 14, 2013 | SBO Editor

What do small business owners wish for in 2014?

j2 Global, Inc. (NASDAQ: JCOM), a provider of business cloud and digital media services just released the results of its 2013 year-end SMB survey. The survey, which was sent to over 32,000 j2 Global® eFax®, eVoice® and Campaigner® SMB professionals, focused on the priorities and “wish lists” of small and medium-sized businesses for the New Year, further reinforces the sea-change taking place in business today as the themes of mobility, the cloud and work-life balance intersect to influence how and where work gets done.

Bright SMB forecast for increasing cloud services
The j2 Global SMB Survey found that businesses see cloud and hosted services as key productivity and cost-savings drivers. Almost 88 percent of respondents say they plan to, or wish they could retire one or more legacy business technologies and nearly 60 percent of survey respondents expect to save money by using cloud services in 2014.

Additionally:

• 27 percent of survey respondents will or would like to get rid of the office fax machine and invest in online faxing services in 2014.
• 23 percent will or would like to retire the office landline and move toward mobile phones and virtual phone systems in the cloud.

SMBs stick to email marketing guns, avoid hype and flash

• 44 percent of those surveyed will focus on tried and true practices when it comes to email marketing, with plans to leverage automation tools and run email campaigns to inspire sharing on social networks.
• Mobile marketing is gaining traction, with 14 percent of respondents saying that adopting mobile marketing best practices is their top priority in 2014.
• Only 11 percent cite as their biggest concern that their email marketing efforts will be thwarted by spam filters or the new tabs in Gmail.

SMBs start the New Year with a new outlook

SMBs continue to find creative new marketing and business strategies, leveraging both the increasing ubiquity of social media and the visual nature of the web to connect with customers and prospects.

• 70 percent of those surveyed have used or plan to use the Facebook mobile app for business development and marketing.
• Twitter and YouTube are the second and third place mobile apps, respectively, that SMBs have used or plan to adopt for business growth.
• Only 16 percent of survey respondents have used or anticipate using Instagram for their business next year.

It’s not just about work: SMBs see health and more enjoyable office culture as 2014 priorities

SMBs are taking a broad view of success in 2014. From creating great office cultures, to improving their health, to better understanding the effects of the Affordable Care Act and taxes, SMBs in 2014 will be focused on far more than merely increasing sales and market share.

• 43 percent of SMB professionals surveyed cite physical exercise and improved health as their top New Year’s Resolution — making it the survey’s most popular resolution. The second and third most popular resolutions, respectively: be more open to new ideas, and take a deep breath and count to 10 more often.
• 36 percent of survey respondents will offer a flexible work policy to attract and retain talent in 2014, and 27 percent will allow employees to dress casually at work.
• For those who have or plan to hire interns (only 26 percent of all surveyed), 59 percent will pay both full-time and part-time interns.
• When asked which government actions or policies will impact their business the most in 2014, 31 percent of survey responders cited the Affordable Care Act. Additional areas of focus include the tax policy (25 percent) and state and local business regulations (15 percent).

“The unrelenting trend toward the digital office continues for SMBs across every industry,” says Mike Pugh, vice president of marketing for j2 Global. “With the cost-savings and increased productivity entrepreneurs gain as they move more of their business functions to the cloud, we’re not surprised this 2014 survey finds SMBs planning to further leverage social media, virtual phone services, email marketing, and online faxing. The overall message from the survey is that the cloud just makes smart business sense for the SMB.”

About j2
j2 Global, Inc. (NASDAQGS:JCOM) and its affiliates provide Internet services through their two divisions: Business Cloud Services and Digital Media. The Business Cloud Services Division offers Internet fax, virtual phone, hosted email, email marketing, online backup, unified communications. It markets its services principally under the brand names eFax®, eVoice®, FuseMail®, Campaigner®, KeepItSafe® and Onebox® and operates a messaging network spanning 49 countries on six continents. The Digital Media Division consists of Ziff Davis Inc., which offers technology, gaming and lifestyle content through its digital properties which include PCMag.com, IGN.com, AskMen.com, Toolbox.com and others. Ziff Davis also operates NetShelter Powered by BuyerBase, an advanced digital ad targeting platform, and Ziff Davis B2B, a leading provider of research to enterprise buyers and leads to IT vendors. As of December 31, 2012, j2 had achieved 17 consecutive fiscal years of revenue growth. For more information about j2, please visit www.j2global.com.

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Category: Features