Get Started: Small companies not sure about tech investments

Markets Associated Press

TECHNO SURVEY

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Small and midsize businesses spend on technology, but many aren't sure they're getting their money's worth, according to a survey by CompTIA, a trade association for the information technology industry.

The survey of 600 companies found that the tiniest spend an average of $29,400 annually on technology, somewhat larger small businesses spend an average of $505,700 and mid-size enterprises average $687,700. When asked about the return they were getting on their tech investment, 60 percent said it was good or excellent, but 40 percent said "just OK" or were disappointed. They based their assessments on factors including time and cost savings, greater ability to get tasks done and staff and customer satisfaction.

When asked about their goals for improving their technology, the most-frequently mentioned was improving IT security, cited by 37 percent. But in a separate question asking companies about their tech to-do lists, only midsize businesses listed it as No. 1. Cybersecurity came in fifth for the tiniest businesses, and No. 3. for somewhat larger companies.

CONTRACTING SURVEY

It costs more money to do business with the federal government. That's the finding of an American Express small business survey that showed companies spending an average of $148,124 seeking federal contracts last year, up 15 percent from the $126,628 they spent in 2013. The dollar amounts include the cost of time spent on bidding as well as the cost of developing and creating plans and prototypes.

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Bidding activity by small businesses was up sharply from 2013. The number of prime contracting bids by small companies — in which they were the principal or sole contractor — rose to an average of nearly 18 per company from 5.5. The number of subcontracts rose to an average of nearly 11 from 3.6.

Small companies who bid on prime contracts are successful half the time, on average, the survey showed. Those who bid on subcontracts have a success rate of 68 percent.

CONTRACTING BILLS PASS

Congress has passed a defense spending bill including legislation aimed at making it easier for small businesses to get federal contracts. Among other things, the bill requires federal agencies to review contracts with an eye toward giving small companies more opportunities.

Members of both houses have been campaigning for years for small businesses to get a larger fair of federal contracts. Contracting legislation has been a part of annual Pentagon spending bills the past few years.

The defense bill also included legislation to help small businesses prevent cyberattacks and a five-year spending authorization for the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. Under these programs, companies can develop technology for the government, and in some cases, market it.

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Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg . Her work can be found here: http://bigstory.ap.org/content/joyce-m-rosenberg