Small and medium businesses (SMBs) have always inspired me, and never more so than now, 18 months into this pandemic. Though they’ve faced major upheaval, many have made changes to navigate back to stability — and even prosperity. Their hard work, creativity, and innovation is a wonder.
That’s why I’m especially proud to launch our latest “Small and Medium Business Trends” report. Based on a survey conducted by The Harris Poll of more than 2,500 SMB owners and leaders worldwide, this research shows the challenges SMBs around the world face, how they move forward, and their visions for the future.
You may be not surprised that 71% of growing businesses say they survived the pandemic through digitization.
We’ve found there are four ways to grow small and medium businesses (those with an increase in revenue) and win right now. Check out the data below, then read the report to learn more about what small business success means now and in the future.
1. Growing SMBs prioritize customers and employee needs
During the pandemic, 50% of growing SMBs have offered employees flexible working arrangements, compared to 38% of their stagnant/declining peers. That’s a big difference — and the companies that have prioritized the needs of employees have come out on top. Employee engagement is vital; in order to be committed to their work, people need some day-to-day control. Offering flexibility when possible appears to serve SMBs well. Engaging customers is also important. Seventy-five percent of growing SMBs say their customers expect online transactions. Accordingly, 72% have an ecommerce presence — including over one-third (35%) who added it within the past year. Clearly listening to both customers and employees is key for growing businesses.
2. Growing SMBs invest in technology
The pandemic threw everyone into a tailspin. Small businesses, which often have fewer resources and are more dependent on local economies, felt the pain deeply. Adversity forced many to digitize: they had to make sure their employees could communicate, collaborate, and drive sales — from anywhere.
So you may be not surprised that 71% of growing businesses say they survived the pandemic through digitization. And to add to that: 66% of growing businesses say their business could not have survived the pandemic using technology from a decade ago.
3. Growing SMBs secure their businesses
While digitization creates new opportunities for SMBs, it also brings new challenges. Ninety-five percent of growing SMBs are taking action to secure company data and protect customer information from cyber attacks. Clearly, security has emerged as a must-have for these businesses; they have to be able to secure their platforms, products, and data in order to grow and compete.
It’s important to note that SMBs made a lot of changes during the pandemic, and the growing SMBs (79% of them!) believe the changes they made this past year to business operations will continue to benefit them in the long term.
What kinds of security measures are these growing businesses taking? They’re regularly updating their applications, using two-factor authentication, cloud backups, password managers, malware prevention, and more. These are all straightforward tools that any small business can use to offer more protection to customers and employees.
4. Growing SMBs accept a new reality
Growing SMBs are more likely to plan for the future or scenario plan. Seventy-seven percent of growing SMBs have created scenario plans to prepare for future crises, no matter what happens.
It’s also important to note that SMBs made a lot of changes during the pandemic, and the growing SMBs (79% of them!) believe the changes they made this past year to business operations will continue to benefit them in the long term. Clearly, these leaders are future-minded.
Small business success in 2022 and beyond
Running a business has never been easy, of course, and with the pandemic, it’s only become harder. However, research shows the ways small and medium businesses are shifting their mindsets and operations in order to succeed.
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