a blog from CenturyLink

How slow internet affects small business

by | Apr 30, 2021


Many small businesses run these days thanks to the internet. It powers many daily tasks, including email, online ordering, and customer service. It even helps you reach new customers by providing a platform for digital marketing. Your business may also rely on the internet for other tasks that use Cloud-based tools, like online software applications.

A slow and unreliable network can cost your company money, time, and even your reputation. It’s hard to break down the exact cost of slow internet for small businesses since every business has unique circumstances. Slow internet impacts everything from employee productivity to customer service to your ability to develop new business and reach new customers. Let’s go over a few hypothetical examples to illustrate how an internet slowdown can be expensive and what to do to solve it.

Employee productivity

Because many daily tasks require the use of the internet, spotty or slow internet can impact your employees and their productivity. The use of the internet touches many different people who might be on your team, including HR, finance, marketing, sales, and IT. Slower internet means slower files downloading and uploading, which means your employees will inevitably spend longer on the task.

Slow internet makes it harder for Tim to do his job as a project manager.

Big files and upload speeds

Every time Tim goes to upload files to a Cloud-based drive for his clients, he can expect it to take a long time. As a project manager, he spends a lot of time doing just that. And he can’t email the files; they’re just too big. Tim tries to get his other work done in the meantime—checking emails, making edits to a client document, and following up on the phone with vendors. But he is constantly having to come back to check on his files and see if they’ve uploaded. It impacts his ability to dive fully into other tasks, and Tim feels like he’s constantly pulled in different directions. Tim estimates he wastes about 15 minutes a day due to slow file uploads. That adds up to a total of 91 hours a year, or at his rate of $30/hour, $2,730 in pay to fiddle around with file uploads. Tim is a talented project manager, and his time could certainly be used for more important tasks.

Customer service

Communicating with customers or serving them on a timely basis relies on tools that work. If you own a busy restaurant or retail business, you need your point-of-sale systems and eCommerce stores to work during crunch time. Both digital tools need the internet to function.

Acquiring a customer is one thing but retaining them is another. Churn is closely tied to poor customer experiences and a lack of appreciation. Being responsive to your customers is a key part of retaining and growing your business. If the internet is slow or down, you may not be able to respond to customer complaints or concerns when they need you to.

Sandra isn't getting the customer service she needs thanks to Frank's slow internet

Customer service chats and slow responses

Sandra is having problems with her account with Frank’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) product. This is the third time she’s reached out for help. Thanks to Frank’s slow internet, the chats the customer representative has with Sandra are time-consuming and slow. She needs help now since she has to go deal with a customer herself. Because the response time is so slow, Sandra must jump off the chat, which means she’ll have to come back to deal with this problem later. Sandra feels frustrated and doesn’t think Frank cares about her or her business. She’s planning on taking her $102/a month account somewhere else. That might only seem like a loss of $1,224 a year. But she’s not going to keep quiet. Sandra also puts Frank’s business on blast on social media, preventing him from getting numerous other accounts down the road.

Business growth & development

When it comes to marketing and building a business, many small businesses rely on digital spaces to get the word out. When the internet is slow, it takes more time to set up paid ad campaigns, interact on social media, or update your eCommerce site. And it impacts visuals too, producing pixelated videos or garbled sales demos.

During Miles' presentation at a webinar, his internet cut out, costing him potential clients.

Webinars and low bandwidth for videoconferences

Miles is presenting on a webinar later today, and it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce his business to a new cohort of people. As a subject matter expert, Miles has great insights to share about search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing. He’s recently launched his own consulting business and runs it out of his home. He’s hoping to get a few new clients from this webinar, or at least to build his email marketing list. But even though Miles has thoroughly prepared for the webinar, his internet has a huge slowdown right when it’s his turn to present. The attendees of the webinar only hear Miles’ distorted audio, and eventually, the host must take over. Miles misses his opportunity to present—and his opportunity to gain new business. If Miles usually charges $100/hour as a consultant, and he would have gotten three contracts out of the webinar for 15 hours of work optimizing client websites, he lost out on a grand total of $4,500.

Final words

These are, of course, all hypothetical situations. But they do demonstrate the real and lasting impact that slow internet can have on your small business. Fortunately, small businesses have options when it comes to high-speed internet.

CenturyLink Small Business Fiber Internet is reliable and fast, offering high bandwidth for multiple internet-based activities. It also has symmetrical upload and download speeds, making the sending and receiving of files much more seamless. With less downtime, faster speeds, and a reliable connection, you can get work done better and faster with business fiber internet. Check to see if CenturyLink Fiber Internet is available near you.

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<a href="https://discover.centurylink.com/author/kirstenqueen" target="_self">Kirsten Queen</a>

Kirsten Queen


Kirsten Queen is the Senior Content Marketing Manager for CenturyLink and Quantum Fiber. Since she started writing professionally, Kirsten has dabbled in nonprofit grant writing and communications, social media marketing, and now writes content about life with technology. In her free time, Kirsten likes to cook, garden, and hike in the mountains of Colorado. Her name rhymes with first, not cheer.