As if running a small business weren’t demanding enough, then comes COVID. The business challenges small businesses are facing now are unavoidable, but not insurmountable. Overcoming these obstacles requires agility and thinking on your feet. What can empower that agility in small businesses? Time and time again, that answer has been technology.
In a recent survey, 93 percent of small businesses said that COVID-19 has made them more reliant on technology. Specifically, solutions that can help cut costs, drive efficiencies, and enable better collaboration. And more than 8 in 10 small businesses say using new technology is key to their company’s survival and growth, according to members of the LinkedIn for Small Business group.
But where to begin? There are three things that small businesses need to quickly innovate and drive business results:
- Empowered remote workforce
- Secure e-commerce platform
- Robust cybersecurity solutions
Read on to learn more about how adopting each can help you adapt to your current business environment and overcome any future challenges that come your way.
More than 8 in 10 small businesses say using new technology is key to their company’s survival and growth.
Empowering the remote workforce
Working from home went from a luxury to necessity almost overnight. And guess what? Businesses found a lot of advantages in a remote workforce. In fact, nearly 75 percent of organizations say that at least some of their employees will continue to work remotely in the future.
To remain productive, at-home workers need anytime access to their apps, data, and each other. Empower your remote teams with integrated technologies like cloud-enabled collaboration solutions that enable efficient collaboration and allow them to contribute where the workday takes them. And don’t forget the value of having your remote work tools integrate into existing solutions for easier adoption.
A secure e-commerce platform
During the pandemic, consumers pivoted to online shopping. Compared to this time last year, e-commerce orders are up 54 percent. Small businesses have responded accordingly, replacing 94 percent of their in-store sales with online purchases.
How were they able to make that shift? By reinventing their business models and adopting e-commerce technology. A combination of networking solutions, collaborative cloud-based tools, and robust security offerings can help retailers capture every opportunity and sale possible.
By adopting an e-commerce platform, retailers can:
- Serve up content quickly in your online storefront
- Create a personalized, frictionless experience for customers
- Make sure your website stays up and running whenever your customers come to visit
- Secure your entire network online so customers can shop with confidence
Even as brick and mortar storefronts are starting to open back up, having an online presence has helped many expand their businesses.
Robust cybersecurity solutions
You might have noticed a keyword popping up quite a bit – security. Small businesses should make security a top priority in all aspects of their business. Especially when you consider that 78 percent of small businesses were victims of cyberattacks in 2019.
Fortunately, you don’t need an IT department to build, support, and secure your network. The first step is to understand which systems are critical to your operations. For a retailer that might be a point-of-sale (POS) system; for another business, email might be most important. Identifying your critical infrastructure gives you a clear hierarchy for where to start your cybersecurity initiative.
Taking the time to understand the needs of your small business and working with a technology partner who can customize cost-effective security solutions will allow you to build a more efficient infrastructure.
Ready for what’s next
You’ve already adapted to a historic event. Now it’s time to overcome and thrive. With the right technology and support, you’ll be ready to carpe whatever diems come your way. To get started, explore our small business IT solutions.
Learn more about how small businesses can leverage technology in this unique time in history to adapt, adopt, and overcome challenges. Get Cisco’s free ebook powered by LinkedIn insights, Beyond Survival: A Small Business Resiliency Guide for more resources.
This blog was originally written by Erin Hatfield for Cisco Blogs.