SMALL IN NAME ONLY: TECH TRENDS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES | A ZDNet Multiplexer Blog What's this?

Funding a technology refresh to thrive

Small businesses have many financial options when it's time to fund a tech reboot or pandemic recovery effort.

As small businesses think about survival, uncertainty, loss of revenue, and the loss of customers, a technology refresh will play a vital role in helping them recover, grow, and compete.

Even before the pandemic, investing in new digital solutions was seen as a way for small businesses to keep up with changing customer demands and expectations, get ahead of competitors, and improve external collaboration with customers, suppliers, and partners.

Now, however, companies might feel they need to tighten their collective belts, primarily due to the devastating impact of the pandemic on their business. But a technology refresh can make all the difference in surviving and thriving during disasters and economic downturns.

The good news is there are plenty of options available to give small businesses a helping hand in ensuring vital technology upgrades.

The Need for New

How vital is an upgrade, anyway? The answer is surprising. Older technology can have a significant impact on productivity. According to research by J. Gold Associates, commissioned by Intel, a PC that's less than a year old takes, on average, less than a minute to start up. However, computers that are five or more years old take just over four minutes to boot. Add that up over the course of a year, and employees can waste up to 11 hours waiting for an older PC to start up.  

The research also showed that small businesses estimate that more than 40 percent of their older computers break or malfunction every year -- in comparison to just over 5 percent for PCs less than a year old. The cost of the malfunctions for older hardware can add up to about $662 a year for each failure. The report noted that, when totaled up, older PCs can make employees 29 percent less productive and cost up to $17,000 a year per worker.

Government resources

The US  government has recognized that small businesses are vital to the economy. As of 2019; there were 30.7 million small businesses in the US, which accounts for 99.9 percent of all businesses in the country. Helping them to ensure productivity and cost savings benefits everybody -- workers, owners, and customers alike. 

Sites like Grants.gov list more than 1,000 available grants from federal, state, and local sources, plus private sector entities. In April, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) launched a new round of Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) assistance – called Supplemental Targeted Advances. These will provide $5 billion in assistance to a million small businesses and non-profit organizations that have been most severely affected by COVID-19. 

Isabella Casillas Guzman, administrator of the SBA, said the additional relief to the smallest and hardest-hit businesses builds on her push to increase the maximum loan amounts for COVID-19 EIDL assistance from 6 months of working capital with a maximum of $150,000 up to 24 months of working capital and a maximum of $500,000. SBA also announced on March 12 that the agency would extend deferment periods for all disaster loans, including COVID-19 EIDLs, until 2022 to provide more time for businesses to build back.

Effective April 22, the SBA modified the Targeted EIDL Advance application process, as well, to determine whether businesses also qualify for the additional $5,000 Supplemental Targeted Advance.  

Alternate funding sources

If organizations can't find a suitable federal, state, or local government program to help with their technology refresh, vendors themselves also have a number of initiatives that help defer interest payments and maximize value. 

For example, Dell offers a number of different packages to suit different company sizes, including:

  • Dell Business Credit: A revolving line of credit that provides special financing offers for all Dell small business products.

  • Pay as You Go leasing services: A subscription model designed to keep businesses supplied with the latest devices and technologies on a rotational basis.

Despite the struggle of the past 12 months, small companies now have the power to upgrade to the latest products without causing undue stress on their cash reserves, giving them the edge they need to keep their businesses progressing forward.