Small business. The term once invoked thoughts of a mom and pop shop or a company headquartered in a room above a garage or cheap office space with second-hand furniture. Today, the viewpoint has shifted seismically as most small businesses, just like their giant-size competitors, face the same hurdles—lead conversion, customer service, client retention and cash flow.

Most small businesses aren’t revolutionary, and they’re not one break away from making millions on their idea. They’re your mom’s hair stylist, neighborhood coffee shop and local accountant. They’re generally hard-working people who are passionate about their service or product, and are on their own to bring in customers and make the sale. Before, it was a small business’ exceptional customer service and personal touch that helped set it apart from larger companies. Today, it’s the influx of small business technology that is further altering the competitive landscape, allowing your company of one to operate like a team of 100.

Small businesses will increase technology spend 50 percent by 2015. Small business owners have already realized the importance of technology to increase sales and brand awareness, especially as it relates to pushing consumers through the purchasing phase. Many new businesses claim they wouldn’t have been able to start a new business without the support of new technology.

Here is just a sample of how the more than 25 million small businesses are competing with their bigger corporate brethren, to have presence that is larger than life.

  • Cloud services now allow small businesses to access their company information and share data from anywhere, allowing business owners to focus on growing their business rather than being backlogged in paperwork and confined to a server.
  • The influx of web engagement platforms now allows customers to take more control of communication with a small business. Solutions like vCita LiveSite and MindBody help give small and micro businesses the ability to provide invoicing, online scheduling and 24/7 customer support without the addition of overhead or manpower.
  • Corporate chat platforms are reshaping how small businesses can communicate internally and cross-company with vendors and external partners. Platforms like, Slack and HipChat are giving small business never-before-seen communication tools to streamline conversations and stay focused on projects and deliverables.
  • Figures show 66% of small business owners are using mobile devices as part of their day-to-day operations, which isn’t shocking considering 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop. Mobile connectivity allows customers to reach businesses at almost any time during the day, even during nights and weekends.
  • Nine out of ten small businesses are now using social media, and 81% of small businesses are using social media for growth. Owners have seen the value in social media and are leveraging platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for sales and targeted advertising. Now, even the most novice of social users can create a Twitter or Facebook ad, track reach and engagement, learn from the post, and continue to evolve.

There is a plethora of great customer engagement, efficiency and social tools that are easy to use and easy on the wallet that can help accelerate a small business and bolster its presence. However, the hardest part is knowing where to start. A good place to begin is to address a gap or deficiency in your current structure, such as the time- consuming struggle you are having manually scheduling and rescheduling client appointment requests. Once you determine the tool that solves this specific problem, you can then build on what you’ve put into place by looking for technology that is interoperable, and allows you to begin satisfying other business needs. The key is ensuring your business is leveraging technology that is not only easy to use, but that can be used together for comprehensive campaigns that help move the needle without requiring a large workforce.

Small and micro businesses may never compete with larger competition from a financial resources standpoint. But with the technology that exists today, the playing field has never been more level while the opportunity for small businesses has never been greater.