Small Business WorkersMega corporations may get all the media attention, but small companies make a massive contribution to the economy. According to the National Small Business Association (NSBA), there are more than 28 million small businesses in the U.S. and they employ about half of the American workforce. But when we say “small business”, what do we really mean? And how are those small companies using and managing technology?

Respondents to GFI’s recent small business survey showed a fairly even spread across companies ranging from tiny to not-so-tiny, with 25 percent of companies having fewer than 10 employees and 23 percent having 50 to 99. With so few workers, only a modest number (26 percent) have full-time IT staffs. In some (21 percent), IT is a part-time duty for someone on staff and others (30 percent) hire consultants. That leaves a surprisingly large number (22 percent) with no designated IT support at all.

Interestingly, only 6 percent of those surveyed consider themselves computer novices, with 12 percent claiming to be “experts” and another 41 percent calling themselves “advanced.” The rest rate themselves as having intermediate skills. It’s not surprising that those who work from home more often consider themselves experts; if they weren’t to begin with, being responsible for maintaining and troubleshooting their systems requires them to learn more about computers.

Even the workers who have IT support available don’t use it much. More than half (57 percent) said they ask for help with their computers less than once a month, and many said they never do.

All these “experts” aren’t necessarily following company rules about computers, either. Almost a quarter (24 percent) of the 53 percent whose companies have acceptable use policies said they’ve knowingly violated them. Maybe that’s why 36 percent of companies don’t rely on workers to follow policies, but proactively block specific web sites to prevent employees from accessing them.