Point of Sale Software giants focus on selling to small businesses.
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You enter your local package-delivery store to send a marketing mailing. Attached to your bill is an offer from Microsoft encouraging you to try its List Builder e-mail marketing service. This type of promotion isn't happening yet, but it may be soon. Big-name software companies are now targeting small businesses to prove their products fit an entrepreneur's budget.
The small-business software market is a bright spot in a weak tech economy. In 2003, U.S. small businesses spent $10.1 billion on off-the-shelf software, says market researcher AMI-Partners. By 2008, that figure should reach $16.4 billion. Some firms, like Microsoft, have already saturated other markets and see small businesses as a new revenue source.
This means entrepreneurs will have more products to choose from. "You'll see more functionality available to you at a lower cost, as well as more companies claiming they're the ultimate small-business solution," says Mika Krammer, a research vice president for small business with Gartner Inc., a Stamford, Connecticut, technology research firm. "It'll be a challenge to find out who's right for your business."