Connie Certusi of Sage: Our Goal is to Automate Small Business Tasks

Connie Certusi, the executive vice president and general manager for small business solutions for Sage Software, joined us for an exclusive 1-on-1 interview.

The goal was to update small business owners and managers on what Sage is doing for small businesses.

The purpose of these interviews is to hear from leaders who provide products and services you may not know of, to listen to their philosophies and to hear the latest developments coming down the pike.  We conducted it as a Google Hangout, and videoed it.

Connie kicked it off by explaining that she has been with Sage for 17 years and says she has been “focused on small businesses all of these years. I absolutely love this market. I think it’s a dynamic market. It’s been a long time at Sage. It’s been a lot of fun.”  As she notes, one of Sage’s key goals is to automate small business tasks, and doing that is part of her job.

Below are some highlights from that interview, paraphrased in places. For the full interview, you can scroll down to the bottom and watch the Hangout video – about 25 minutes long.

Question: What does small business mean to Sage?

Sage is a global organization that provides business management software, services and solutions to small businesses – 6 million across the globe.

It is our goal … to provide solutions to … small businesses that help them to better automate their daily tasks, their administrative tasks related to accounting, related to payroll, related to inventory management.

And ultimately we want to free up some time so they can focus on other things like growing their business, or finding new customers or maybe just get them home at a decent hour so they can spend some time with their friends and family. So we service small businesses with tools to help make them successful.

Question: Sage recently conducted a Reinvention of Small Business study. What were some of the key findings?

[49% of small businesses cited investing in technology as the major change or improvement over the last five years.]  A lot of the small businesses that have survived the downturn in the economy, a lot of them are doing it because they are getting smarter about running their businesses and they are using technology to do that.

A lot of [small business people] are working more.  When we ask them how many hours they are working … 37% said they are putting in 11 or more hours every week in their small business on both the weekends as well as during the week.  And … 43% said they are taking less vacation time.

There’s an apprehension to hire….  They’re getting more done with less. They’re putting in more hours.

When [small businesses were] asked “have you thought about giving up?” a resounding  76 percent said “No”.

I think it’s the spirit of businesses in the U.S. quite frankly.  Even though they’ve gone through some tough times, 56 percent still feel like they’re living the American dream.

Question: What is The Sage Listening Tour that Sage is about to kick off?

We are just getting started on the Sage Listens RV Relay.  We have an RV that is going around to 16 cities around the U.S.  A number of Sage executives and employees are traveling on this RV and meeting with small and medium sized businesses.

Not only do we want to meet with the small businesses and understand their journey … what keeps them up at night… and [take that information back to Sage].. but we want to shop locally on this tour.  We are buying gas from small business customers, we are staying at hotels where we can of small business customers, we are eating at [small business-owned restaurants].

We want them to know that we are championing them in the community.  [The Shop Local Challenge  is where we] are asking everyone to shop local at least one day a week.   Make a concerted effort  to find a small  business in your area … to shop local at least one day a week.  We are putting out the Challenge to our employees to do the same across the United States.

Question: What’s the impact of shopping local in the community?

There are tremendous impacts for shopping local … locally owned businesses … give back more to the community. They do this in a number of ways.  Obviously if these locally-owned businesses are thriving they are hiring employees from that community.

They are also [giving back] to the community from a charity perspective … they sell more products, they are paying more taxes that goes back into the local infrastructure.  It’s a domino effect … as to the impact they can have on the community.

Question: What products does Sage offer small businesses and for what size of small business?

We have a number of accounting, ERP, payroll, HR solutions … that focus … all the way from the entrepreneur/ single-employee space going all the way up to the 500-employee space.

We’ve got cloud solutions … Sage One … that is a full-cloud online accounting solution that targets the 0 to 9 employee space. From Sage One you can then move into Sage 50 … [it] spans up to the 25 to 50 employee space.

You can move up to Sage 100 … then Sage 300 … a number of solutions that help the small business really not only when they are first forming but as they continue to grow and their needs are changing.

The following resources were mentioned in this Hangout interview:

Sage North America website

Sage surveys

Sage Listens Tour (Hashtag for Twitter: #SageListens and #SageShopsLocal)

This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.

More in:

Brent Leary Brent Leary is the host of the Small Business Trends One-on-One interview series and co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC, an Atlanta-based CRM advisory firm covering tools and strategies for improving business relationships. Brent is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger.