Investing in the Local Small Business Community with Dell

We had the neat opportunity yesterday to spend some time with some other local small business owners as well as an eclectic group of entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds.

Sponsored by Dell and led by Ingrid Vanderveldt, their Entrepreneur in Residence, it was an opportunity for us to come together and think strategically about our local economy, what can be done to stimulate growth, as well as suggest opportunities for Dell to partner with these opportunities to make them happen.

I was pleasantly surprised at how open and available Dell was to hear our thoughts (and our struggles) of being entrepreneurs in Atlanta and the Southeast at large and they were able to take back with them some very realistic and actionable items to help improve Georgia’s SMB outlook.

In addition, Dell sponsored a survey and white paper detailing some findings about the local Atlanta and SMB economy. Here’s what they found:

New survey research released by Dell and Intel in June 2012 reveals a bright local outlook for Atlanta startups and small businesses. Sources of optimism include a favorable view of the local economy and local support organizations and healthy expectations for growth.

Access to Capital and Markets 

  • 64% regard access to capital as key to their businesses’ successful growth
  • Personal savings is the top source of funding (41%) followed by “other” sources, which most often cited business profits and sales (23%)
  • No Atlanta respondents reported venture capital as a top source of funding, but 2% said angel investors were a primary means of funding
  • Most do not view access to global markets as key to successful growth (69%), and the U.S. is widely seen to offer the greatest growth opportunities (80%)
  • But, more see greater barriers to domestic growth (45%) than abroad (36%)

Access to Networks, Talent and Expertise 

  • Just fewer than one in four small businesses are looking to hire (23%)
  • Most are neither hiring nor firing (71%) and have stayed the same size or grown over the past three years (70%)
  • Most (82%) said access to talent is key to successful growth
  • Only access to information is seen as more important than talent (89%)
  • Access to advice and expertise (80%) and access to networks (71%) also rank among the top factors seen as most important for successful growth

Access to Technology 

  • 81% consider access to effective technology key to successful growth
  • Most say technology supports day-to-day operations (64%), but a significant percentage view technology as a strategic asset (35%)
  • 37% say their technology needs are becoming increasingly complex
  • Most owners handle IT themselves (45%), few consider dedicated IT staff key to success (29%), and few have dedicated IT personnel on staff (18%)
  • More than half (57%) expect an increase in the number of small businesses investing in technology, over hiring, will fuel growth over the next year

Atlanta Highlights 

  • Most say growth is “very important” (66%), and more than half expect to grow in the near future (52%)
  • Twice as many Atlanta small businesses are “very worried” about sustaining their success (12%) as their Miami counterparts (6%)
  • Most expect finances to improve next year (60%), but respondents in Atlanta were 3 times less likely to say “much better” (5%) than in Miami (15%)
  • Most also expect better sales outlooks (84%) and growth opportunities (67%) in the next year
  • Respondents were less optimistic about the national or global economy – few expect improvements to inflation (28%) or the global economy (34%)
  • Nearly all (90%) are looking to hire exclusively domestically
  • One in four added staff in the last three years

Findings draw from a representative sample of 100 randomly selected small business decision makers from firms with one to 99 employees in the Atlanta metro area. Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) conducted the anonymous online survey during the period April 27-May 7, 2012. The survey margin of error is +/-9.8%. 

Pretty fascinating, right?

The outlook is generally positive – it would be neat to see some of the exact markets within the survey and the # of respondents in each industry – naturally we’d be interested in high tech and human capital markets!

You can download the full white paper here for your use.

 

There was so much interest around this topic that they even asked us for the name of our company – and someone said I should get a picture of it on the board. Sure, why not!

What an incredible time with other local businesses and we had a great time of networking and discussing the real challenges of running a startup and small business. We look forward to seeing more of what Dell has to offer and how we all can thrive here in Atlanta!

Thanks again guys!

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