What is an hour of your time worth as an entrepreneur or small business owner?
An even better question might be: How do you gain back hours of your valuable time that may be spent on administrative activities that don’t add directly to your top line or bottom line?
Those are questions that Google has been spending time exploring in efforts to serve small business customers. This week Google released a study that looked at how small business owners value their own time, and how they manage their time using automation and tools.
According to Rich Rao Director of Worldwide Sales & Operations of Google, “We wanted to see if technology made a difference in small business success. So we conducted this study and issued the report.”
The study surveyed young small businesses  (under 3 years old) and brings into focus the challenges they are facing and how they use technology to solve them.
An Hour of Time Has Great Value
You’ve heard of the old adage, “time is money.” In small businesses, where staff is limited and the owner is typically hands on, that adage takes on magnified meaning.
A whopping eighty-six percent (86%) of entrepreneurs surveyed in the report said an hour of their time was worth at least $50 — in some cases significantly more. And 12% said an hour of their time was worth more than $500!
When asked what they’d do with that time, the majority said they’d use it on marketing and customer-related activities. See the chart below from the study.
Rao said, “Seeing businesses report the man hours saved was interesting. It speaks to the value of having a reliable, simple solution at a great cost.”
Living In A Multiscreen World
Rao told us in an interview that the findings also confirm just how much “we are living in a multiscreen world.”
Ninety percent of people are using multiple devices. Small business people surveyed reported that 60% of their employees are now using at least two devices in their work each day. Also, employees want to use the same devices in workplaces as in their personal lives. They don’t want to have to switch to a different computer or tablet, for instance, from the one they are used to using in their personal lives.
“Small companies clearly are understanding this and adapting” in their processes and policies, says Rao.
Mobile is a key part of the mix in small businesses, too. “Running a more mobile business not only makes it more convenient, but helps them to close more sales,” Rao adds.
Open a Browser, Go to the Cloud
Rao points out how our expectations about deploying new technology in businesses have shifted — and pretty dramatically. Entrepreneurs and managers in small businesses now go to their browsers to deploy technology, because browsers open up a whole world of cloud technology choices. “It used to be that it took a lot of work to get your technology up and running. Now people are getting used to opening up a browser and getting technology,” Rao adds.
In just a few years, cloud technology has gained a large foothold within small business operations. For instance, 81% of those in the study said cloud-based file sharing is critical to their business. Perhaps more importantly to businesses that are growth-oriented, a majority (69%) said that their revenues have grown at least in part due to cloud technology.
In other words, cloud technology is not just about convenience or saving time and money, as important as those considerations may be. Cloud tech also has been recognized as a driver of sales and growth to these young businesses.
Email Addresses With Your Domain Name Drive Growth
One other interesting part of the survey showed the value of having email addresses for your business with your domain name in them. Example: [email protected] Over 40% said they saw an increase in sales, and 60% saw an increase in customer engagement, once they got a professional looking email address, instead of one with gmail.com or similar generic designation.
The survey was conducted by Zogby Analytics on behalf of Google in November – December 2013. Businesses that were surveyed were less than 3 years old, and had fewer than 100 employees.
Meeting  Photo via Shutterstock