This talk was given by Stu Richards, CEO of Bredin at SaaS Connect 2019 in San Francisco, March 26-27, 2019. Get the slides

Understanding the biggest challenges and threats to today’s businesses is essential for helping cloud-based services succeed. Having a clear understanding of current pain points can improve marketing, product positioning and sales messaging.

Bredin is an agency that collects such information by conducting research among small to mid-sized businesses. Each month, they conduct a survey called the SMB Pulse, which surveys 500 business leaders, founders and principals in the United States.

What are the biggest challenges today’s businesses face? How do these challenges inform what products businesses need and want to buy? Stu Richards from Bredin spoke to these questions at SaaS Connect 2019.

What are the challenges of very small, small and medium businesses?

Bredin’s survey evaluates very small businesses with less than 20 employees, small businesses with 20 to 99 employees, and medium businesses with 100 to 500 employees.

Each of these groups have different challenges and needs. For example, medium businesses tend to already have established revenue sources and customer bases. This means they’re more concerned with refining their processes across employment, security and applications. Very small businesses tend to be more concerned with creating revenue and staying afloat.

  • Challenge No. 1: Finding customers. 32 percent of all businesses surveyed are concerned about finding customers. 32 percent of small businesses are concerned with finding customers, while 41 percent of larger businesses care about the issue.
  • Challenge No. 2: Competition. 42 percent of medium businesses are concerned about dealing with competition, while only 25 percent of very small businesses are.
  • Challenge No. 3: Finding good employees. Finding good employees is important for all businesses. While 42 percent of small businesses are concerned about this issue, only 22 percent of very small businesses see it as a challenge.

What technologies do these businesses use?

Businesses are most familiar with the term “cloud,” while the terms “hosted application” and “SaaS” are less familiar. This informs what messaging today’s cloud companies should be using.

  • Analytics and marketing automation are used most. More than half of the businesses surveyed say they use the cloud for website analytics, non-website analytics, marketing automation, file sharing and Salesforce automation tools. Additionally, 51 percent use the cloud for online meetings and storage or file backup.
  • Businesses use specialty applications less. The least commonly used cloud applications include customer service, expense management, security software, design software and accounting. However, this changes dramatically depending on the company size and industry.

What cloud applications do businesses plan to acquire?

Businesses are planning to adopt cloud-based applications in specific categories over the next year or two. The most common application category was analytics (non-website) with 66 percent of businesses planning to adopt a cloud tool in this category. Survey administration, CRM, online meetings and website analytics tools are the next most common tools businesses plan to adopt.

Small businesses vary in their preferences, but most businesses are motivated to move to the cloud by:

  • Universal access to data
  • Improved functionality
  • Improved security
  • Improved reliability
  • Easy access to documents

Businesses see the biggest benefits of the cloud as:

  • Integrations with current application ecosystem
  • Working with well-known companies
  • Having a free trial version
  • A best-in-class solution
  • An integrated suite

Businesses have a variety of challenges depending on their size. Understanding these challenges can help you create more targeted product messaging.