CDW Study Turns Successful Entrepreneurs' Hindsight into Lessons Learned for Small Businesses
It Pays to Be a Geek - Tech-Savvy Small Businesses Tend to Grow Faster
VERNON HILLS, Ill. - August 20, 2007 - CDW Corporation (NASDAQ: CDWC), a leading provider of technology products and services to business, government and education, today released the findings of its "Business Rearview Mirror," a survey of entrepreneurial mid-size businesses designed to share with small business owners the lessons learned from their early growth. The survey found that employee issues -- such as recruitment, retention and regulations -- were the top challenges that respondents overcame on their growth track, as was managing information technology (IT) to their best advantage.
"Driving small business growth has everything to do with building a great team and empowering them with tools to innovate and respond to customer demand," said Harry J. Harczak, Jr., executive vice president of CDW Corporation. "CDW has worked closely with small and medium-sized businesses for more than 20 years, and we have always heard these things anecdotally from our customers as we worked to understand their challenges and help them make the most of available technology. The Business Rearview Mirror Survey crystallizes those lessons learned for the benefit of today's aspiring small businesses."
In addition to recruitment and retention of good employees, survey respondents reported that adhering to employee-related regulations, establishing financial controls and being prepared for external costs of doing business – such as taxes, insurance or Workers' Compensation – were their top non-IT challenges. However, managing IT to their firm's greatest advantage ranked second among all business challenges according to these successful business leaders, scoring just ahead of employee-related regulations.
Top Three Lessons Learned From the Business Rearview Mirror
Lesson 1: Integrate IT into your company's strategy – early. The survey found that, while 98 percent of responding executives said their company had a defined IT strategy as a small business, those who viewed IT as a strategic or competitive resource tended to grow faster than companies that "spent just enough" to ensure that employees could do their jobs. Plus, 18% of respondents said that "Not integrating technology into our business strategy sooner" was their biggest IT mistake over the years.
Lesson 2: Understand as much as you can about technology. Know what is available, what technology your company uses and how it can help your business – but delegate the hands-on work to dedicated professionals as soon as you can.
The owner's own technology savvy correlates to business success, as 73 percent of respondents who rate themselves as "total geeks" reported double-digit average annual growth in their businesses over the past 5 years. Close to half – 48 percent – of "total geeks" also reported that their businesses reached the 100-employee milestone with in 5 years of launch, compared to just one-third of all survey respondents.
Seventy-four percent of respondents were "totally involved" in IT decision making during their companies' early growth. However, among the fastest growing firms – those reporting more than 20 percent average annual growth over the past 5 years – 49 percent said that they had a dedicated IT person or department on the payroll before they reached 100 employees in size, compared to just 24 percent for the entire survey population.
Lesson 3: Put the IT rubber to the business road. Capture the full advantage of technology your company acquires by looking for ways to apply it in production/project management, supply chain, business development and other high-return applications – and train your employees to use it.
Asked what their biggest IT mistake had been over the years, respondents' top pick was, "Not taking advantage of the technology we did acquire," and they ranked major technology applications for the most significant impact they had provided to the bottom lines of their companies.
CDW administered the Business Rearview Mirror survey between July 2 and July 20, 2007, targeting mid-size business CEOs and senior officers who have grown their companies from small businesses. CDW defines small business as having fewer than 100 employees. The businesses surveyed range from 100 to 5,000 employees in current size and come from a wide variety of industries. A total of 862 top executives of mid-size businesses responded to the survey and were narrowed to 152 who provided answers for the final results. Final participants were required to have been principals in their companies since before they reached the 100-employee milestone.
For a copy of the complete CDW Business Rearview Mirror Survey Report, please visit http://newsroom.cdw.com/rearview.
To learn more about CDW's resources for small businesses and the IT professionals serving them, please visit ConduIT@CDW (www.cdwconduit.com).
CDW®, ranked No. 342 on the FORTUNE 500, is a leading provider of technology solutions for business, government and education. CDW is a principal source of technology products and services including top name brands such as Acer, Adobe, APC, Apple, Cisco, EMC, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, Panasonic, Quantum, Samsung, Sony, Symantec, ViewSonic and Xerox. CDW's direct model offers customers one-on-one relationships with knowledgeable account managers and access to approximately 820 on-staff engineers and advanced technology specialists who customize solutions for customers' complex technology needs. CDW also provides same-day product shipping and post-sales technical support.
CDW was founded in 1984 and as of June 30, 2007, employed approximately 5,880 coworkers. In 2006, the company generated sales of $6.8 billion. For more information, visit CDW.com.
Statements about the expected timing, completion and effects of the proposed merger between CDW and a subsidiary of VH Holdings, Inc. and all other statements in this press release other than historical facts, constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, each of which is qualified in its entirety by reference to the following cautionary statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof and are based on current expectations and involve a number of assumptions, risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. CDW may not be able to complete the proposed merger because of a number of factors, including, among other things, the failure of financing or the failure to satisfy the remaining closing conditions. Other risks and uncertainties that may affect forward-looking statements are described in the reports filed by CDW with the SEC under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including without limitation CDW's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006, and the definitive proxy statement dated July 13, 2007, relating to the special meeting of shareholders that was held on August 9, 2007.