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Small Business Tips

October 20, 2021

2500+ small and medium businesses reveal what drives pandemic era success

As we turn the corner on summer and head into the holiday season, what’s top of mind for small businesses right now? For the past few years, Salesforce has released a research report focused on the trends that are shaping small and medium business (SMB). For 2021, the fifth edition of the “Small and Medium Business Trends” report looks at the challenges SMBs around the world face, how they move forward, and their visions for the future.

Research for the report was conducted by The Harris Poll in June and July, and includes responses from more than 2,500 SMB owners and leaders across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. The report provides a unique look at how SMBs are evolving some eighteen months into the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Salesforce’s research shows four specific ways growing small and medium businesses — those with an increase in revenue — are winning right now. Let’s look at the four key ways your small or medium business can emulate the success of growing SMBs during the pandemic:

Listen to customers and employees

Employee needs changed over the past eighteen months, and successful SMBs have worked to meet those 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. Prioritizing the needs of employees may help businesses thrive.

Employee engagement is vital; people need some day-to-day control in order to stay committed to their work. 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 — no surprise given how much consumers have leaned into e-commerce over the past year and a half. Accordingly, 72% of growing SMBs report having an ecommerce presence — over one-third (35%) added it within the past year. Listening to both customers and employees is clearly key for growing businesses.

Invest in technology

The pandemic threw everyone into a tailspin. SMBs, which often have fewer resources and are more dependent on local economies than their larger counterparts, felt the pain deeply. The adversity forced many small businesses to digitize: they had to make sure their employees could communicate, collaborate, and drive sales from anywhere.

So it may not be surprising to hear that 71% of growing businesses say they survived the pandemic through digitization. Furthermore, 66% of growing businesses say their business could not have survived the pandemic using technology from a decade ago.

Secure your business

Digitization creates new opportunities for SMBs, but it also brings new challenges. Cybersecurity is near the top of the list. Ninety-five percent of growing SMBs say they’re taking action to secure company data and protect customer information from cyber attacks. Small businesses have to be able to secure their platforms, products, and data in order to grow and compete.

What kinds of security measures are these growing SMBs taking? They’re regularly updating their applications (51%), using two-factor authentication (2FA) (47%) and cloud backups (45%), creating strong passwords and using password managers (45%), blocking malicious sites (44%), and more. These are all straightforward tools that any small business can use to offer more protection to customers and employees.

Embrace a new reality

Growing SMBs are more likely to plan for the future, or what’s known as scenario planning. Seventy-seven percent of growing SMBs have created scenario plans to prepare for future crises, no matter what happens.

SMBs made a lot of changes during the pandemic — no surprise there! What’s great to hear is that the growing SMBs (79% of them!) believe the changes they made to business operations this past year will continue to benefit them in the long term. Clearly, these leaders are future-minded.

How to succeed in 2022 and beyond

Running a small business has never been easy. The pandemic, of course, has only made it harder. But the research shows: When SMBs have a will, they’ll find a way. Small and medium businesses are shifting their mindsets — and evolving their operations — in order to succeed.

For full definitions and more trends, download the full Small & Medium Business Trends report from Salesforce. Learn how SMBs are navigating the present and preparing for the future, and find out how new technology reshaping the business world can help set up your business for growth.

About the survey:

The survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Salesforce, between June 21 and July 12, 2021, among 2,534 SMB owners and leaders in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Respondents are 18 years of age or older, employed full-time, part-time, or self-employed, and owners or senior executives at businesses with 2-200 employees and annual revenue of less than $1 billion U.S. or the local equivalent. Data points were weighted by number of employees to bring them into line with actual company size proportions in the population.

This sponsored blog post was written and provided by Salesforce, one of Deluxe’s partners for Season 6 of Small Business Revolution.

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