• Ten (10) percent of all small employers purposefully innovate or invent with the intention of selling or leasing the results of their efforts. Innovations or inventions provide all sales for about one in five of their enterprises; innovations/inventions are responsible for 50 percent or more of sales in more than half. Employee-size of business appears unrelated to the propensity of their owners to purposefully innovate.
• Twenty (20) percent of small-businesses employ one or more people, including the owner(s), whose primary job is to develop new products, services, processes, or designs.
• Over the last three years, about 4 percent of all small employers or just over 1 percent a year have applied to a government agency for financial assistance to develop new products, services, processes or designs.
• More small employers own copyrights (13%) that they actively use in their businesses than own patents (5%).
• Design is a major innovative focus. Twenty-one (21) percent of small businesses market design. More than six of 10 that market design have half or more of their sales stem from it. However, the survey does not identify whether the design is for purposes of increasing productivity, such as, an electric circuit on a computer chip, or pleasure, such as, a dress design.
• Three of four small employers specifically and directly encourage their employees to suggest ideas for new products and services or better ways to produce and distribute them. Just over half offer bonuses and/or special recognition to employees who make suggestions used to increase business productivity or sales. The most common award is bonuses and recognition (32%) followed by bonuses exclusively (14%) and recognition exclusively (5%). The median number of employees who received an award last year, among those who provided awards, was two.
• Five percent of small-business owners claim it would be more accurate to classify themselves as a producer of technology than as a user or an “avoider” of technology. Another four percent volunteer that they are both producers and extensive users of technology. Sixteen (16) percent attempt to avoid technology.
• Forty-two (42) percent of all small businesses introduced at least one new or significantly improved product, service, process or design into their sales inventory in the prior year. Most often the introduction was a product (55%), followed by a service (29%), a process (8%) and a design (7%). Thirty-four (34) percent have never introduced a new or significantly improved product, service, process or design. It has been three years or more since another 11 percent have.
• The idea for this new or significantly improved product/service/process/design was developed internally in one-third (33%) of cases. Another 42 percent upgraded or modified the idea based on what they saw elsewhere. Almost 12 percent (or 5% of the total population) are trying to license or otherwise sell it.