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4 Ways To Keep The Small Business Week Momentum Going

4 Ways To Keep The Small Business Week Momentum Going

Salesforce's latest Small and Medium Business Trends Report shows customer and employee engagement were the top SMB priorities globally. Read on to learn the top SMB trends for 2021 and beyond.

Small Business Week is always an important period to mark on our calendars, but this past October offered Canadian firms a few extra reasons to celebrate.

Following multiple periods of lockdown since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, for example, many small businesses have recently been able to fully reopen physical locations and re-introduce their customers to in-person experiences.

This was probably icing on the cake for small businesses who had demonstrated their resilience amid the restrictions by making strategic use of digital technologies to continue operating. From launching their first e-commerce sites to diving headfirst into social media, many small businesses not only survived but improved their long-term growth outlook.

BDC, which has been organizing and leading Small Business Week for more than four decades in Canada, acknowledged the magnitude of the changes companies have gone through. Its 2021 theme, “Build a (better) way forward,” suggested that now is time for small businesses to not only stay the course, but to continue applying lessons learned and hone their strategies.

“From growing labour shortages and climate events to the rise of remote work and the expansion of e-commerce, businesses will need to focus on innovation, inclusion, and sustainability to maintain growth,” the BDC said. “Small Business is all about navigating a new business environment, where over 80% of entrepreneurs say it’s their responsibility to take action to protect the environment, 55% of employees say they prefer to continue working remotely and 8 out of 10 Canadians having purchased online during the pandemic say they will continue doing so.”

Trendlines From The State of Small Business Report

In our most recent Small And Medium Business Trends report, Salesforce’s survey of more than 2,300 owners and leaders across the globe showed the progress that’s being made in these areas.

On the innovation front, the majority of SMBs (83%) have at least some of their operations online; of those, nearly all (95%) moved a portion of their operations online in the past year. They’re also increasing their investment in key areas of technology. This includes 41% who are allocating more budget to customer service tools, while 40% said they are doing the same thing to bring on sales applications, and another 39% are adopting technology to support marketing activities.

As for inclusion, customer and employee engagement were the top SMB priorities the world over. It’s why more than two in five SMBs have provided flexible working arrangements to employees during the pandemic, allowing them to achieve success from anywhere. For customers who made greater use of digital channels amid the pandemic, meanwhile, there are often questions about how their information is being used. That’s why 90% of SMBs globally are taking steps to bolster data security.

What If Small Business Week Was Just The Beginning?

Hopefully many Canadian SMBs got to participate in the many workshops and special events that ran during Small Business Week. As the past 18 months have proven, however, it’s important to stay on top of your game at all times.

With that in mind, here are some simple but effective ways to keep the Small Business Week momentum going — through the rest of 2021 and beyond:

1. Strengthen Your Peer Network

Small businesses that band together tend to be more successful. Yet during the pandemic a lot of in-person networking opportunities shut down.

Ensure you stay in more regular communication with other entrepreneurs digitally. This could include setting up regular Twitter chats, developing a dedicated Slack channel or scheduling a regular virtual meetup via videoconferencing.

2. Amplify Underrepresented Voices

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has skyrocketed as an agenda item among the Fortune 500, but small businesses are doing important work in these areas too. Showcase those on your team who come from a variety of backgrounds through all the mechanisms available to you.

See if there’s a podcast where one of your top female employees could share her expertise. Reshare relevant posts from the LGBTIQA+ community. Use any conference speaking opportunities to raise awareness about the importance of equal pay.

3. Thank Your Top Customers

Someone had to be among the first to buy online from you for the first time, to browse a website you’d revamped or to download your mobile app.

Express some sincere gratitude by creating a special edition of your email newsletter, perhaps featuring an interview with customers who have proven just as agile in adopting digital technologies as your company.

4. Use Your Digital Presence To Reflect Your Values

You may have grown social media followers, added your email subscriber base or are now generating more web traffic than ever before. That means, even if you’re a small business, you could have a powerful platform. Customers expect you to use it not only to grow your business, but to show how business can be a platform for change.

Write a blog post that talks about your approach to sustainability, and encourage other small businesses to join you. Curate a list of online resources to share on social media that could help educate your community on how to combat climate change. Look for additional ways where you could digitize information rather than consume more paper or other valuable resources.

Small Business Week may be officially over, but you could also look at it as the beginning of a new chapter in Canadian entrepreneurialism — one where the opportunities to demonstrate leadership and contribute value have never been more plentiful.

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