Finance Banner

Small business manager



In light of the emerging themes, it is evident that the nature of small business practice presents some unique challenges in regard to the adoption of information technology. The following section presents a number of recommendations for various stakeholders-small business managers, consultants, vendors and government-intent on increasing the strategic use of information technology within the small business sector.


In light of the characteristics of small business practice, the following suggestions relate to making decisions and obtaining advice.

First, to overcome the limitations of being dependent upon others expertise, for information technology to be successfully leveraged, the small business owner/manager needs to gain an understanding of financial statements. Similarly, while a small business owner/manager does not need to know how to design or develop information technology, he does need to understand how the technology might be used as a key resource in adding value to the firms core business products or services.

Unlike large firms where managerial knowledge tends to be specialized in a particular area, a small business owner/manager is a generalist with intimate knowledge of the various areas of the firm. Clearly this knowledge could not be gained without an open attitude to learning . However, since small business managers typically use informal rather than formal means of learning, it is important to ensure that enough credible sources are accessed to acquire a level of understanding that is appropriate for the type of business he is in.

Second, the small business manager should establish relationship with a specific individual regarding a source for advice. The following steps are suggested. To begin, the small business manager should shop around to find an individual with whom he may feel comfortable working with and taking advice. In order to find this person, the small business manager should rely upon his informal network. Thus individuals could be contacted who are in similar business sector or who may be using the same technology. The small business manager should not rely upon hardware or software vendors alone for advice. The recommendation is for the small business manager to establish a relationship with someone who is independent of a specific solution and who will be prepared to play a strategic role taking a long-term perspective. Further, the small business manager must re-assess this relationship periodically. It is incumbent upon the small business manager to review the relationship to ensure that the recommendations being proffered are appropriately contributing to the long-term success of the firm. The small business owners may wish to wait to find out whether a particular information technology will add value or just add expense.

One final recommendation, to overcome the focus on efficiency exclusively, small business managers should take a more proactive approach toward the adoption of information technology. While information technology in itself is not a source of competitive advantage, as it is readily available and easily duplicated, the way in which it is utilized may be difficult for other businesses to copy. For example, if the small business provides a very specialized service, it might use the web to collaborate with other firms that provide complementary services but who may be spread out across the country or the globe.