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Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of small business owners said new technologies will offer a bigger return on their investment than new employees (28 percent) in 2014, according to a survey by office supply specialist Brother International, in partnership with Score, a mentoring organization for small businesses.

The survey also indicated that while the state of the economy is still top of mind for many Americans, the economy isn’t creating as much stress for small business owners.

For the first time in five years, stress levels are much lower, with just 42 percent of small business owners reporting a high level of stress about the current economic climate, down significantly from the 58 percent who felt high levels of stress in 2013.

Previous years’ surveys showed a majority feeling high stress levels in 2012 (52 percent), 2011 (52 percent) and 2010 (51 percent).

"Our survey shows that while small business owners understand the value of new technologies, they are still a bit overwhelmed and struggle with choosing the right time to adopt them to have the greatest impact on their business," John Wandishin, vice president of marketing for Brother, said in a statement. "This is one of the reasons Brother is committed to developing printers, all-in-ones and scanners that integrate with mobile technologies and cloud-based services."

Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, top the list (41 percent) of the technologies small business owners find necessary to run their business. Respondents also named Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools (32 percent), social technologies (21 percent) and cloud services (15 percent) as necessary to their business.

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