Mark Roberts is CMO at TPx Communications, responsible for marketing worldwide, driving growth opportunities and building brand recognition.
If there is a takeaway from the past year and a half for me, it’s that the nation’s 31 million-plus small businesses are indeed the country’s backbone.
They have faced one challenge after another head-on with grit and determination during the seemingly never-ending pandemic, and many have found a way to not only survive but also thrive. Because of their perseverance, they deserve our admiration.
However, the onslaught of challenges continues for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). They range from cyberattacks and security breaches to supply chain woes, challenges with hiring new employees and “The Great Resignation.” But I feel confident in saying that many will continue to find success even with these headwinds.
Many initiatives support small businesses, including National Small Business Week, which was held in September this year, and Small Business Saturday, which is held around Black Friday.
While there are times set aside to celebrate SMBs, we shouldn’t only celebrate them once a year. Instead, we should celebrate them every day because we can learn a lot from their approach to navigating challenges.
Small businesses remain optimistic.
When we think of businesses, it’s easy to think that large corporations employ the most people or represent the most significant portion of the economy. But that is incorrect.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of the country owns or works for a small business. The agency estimates that small businesses create about two out of every three new jobs in the country every year.
While there is no single definition of small business, these companies can have either a few employees or hundreds of people on their teams. And we can find them delivering a range of services in every industry, blue-collar and white-collar alike.
According to a July 2021 survey from the NFIB, more than one in four small businesses (26%) cited labor quality as their biggest problem. The NFIB research also found that the U.S. Small Business Optimism Index in July 2021 was slightly higher than a year earlier, which is a potential sign of small business optimism and of our collective desire to rebound from the pandemic.
Amid the pandemic, they adapted to the changing circumstances.
We are at a pivotal moment in history, and the pandemic will likely lead to long-lasting changes.
Amid the pandemic, small businesses launched new channels, developed new products and services, and adapted their offerings to meet the unexpectedly temperamental marketplace. From locally-owned restaurants that embraced takeout to fitness studios that streamed classes online and small creative agencies that shot ads in team members’ backyards, small businesses’ ability to adapt has been unprecedented and inspiring to watch.
According to a 2021 PNC Economic Outlook survey, more than half of SMB leaders (53%) surveyed made product-related changes amid the pandemic. A similar number of those making product-related changes (54%) expect those changes to be permanent.
Several surveys, including a 2021 survey from Kabbage, found that small businesses’ average sales and profits are near pre-pandemic levels. As the economy re-opens, small businesses in particular could be in for a business boom.
They continue to navigate the treacherous waters of business.
A 2020 report from ConnectWise (via Channel Futures) also suggests that they remain aware of the threat of cyberattacks on their businesses; eighty-six percent of SMBs surveyed said cybersecurity was among the top five priorities for their companies. As the world increasingly relies on digital tools for business, the associated risks of cyberattacks will likely increase.
Of course, there is Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October, but much like National Small Business Week, we shouldn’t limit the discussion of this topic to a limited time frame. It is relevant every day of the year.
The cyber threats businesses face are increasingly common and sophisticated, and they also pose a threat to SMBs. Businesses should act quickly and decisively to stay one step ahead of the threat.
Cyber threats take various forms, from phishing scams to ransomware and denial of service attacks. Too often, smaller organizations do not have the in-house resources to put security initiatives in place, which can make them even more vulnerable.
To continue their prosperity in the face of cyberattacks, small businesses should maintain their vigilance.
They find solutions to everyday problems.
Sometimes, a company’s biggest mistake is thinking it has all the answers to the problems at hand. The organizations that understand they do not are usually better positioned to face the challenges that arise — such as a pandemic that shuts down the world.
While leaders at large businesses may find it more challenging to be nimble, we can all learn from the adaptations small businesses have made during the pandemic and how they continue to adapt. Whether they did so by adopting new online tools to help teams collaborate while working from home or adapting security protocols to a more remote and mobile workforce, companies of all sizes have adapted.
A key personality trait companies often look for in key leadership roles is an entrepreneurial mindset. Good leaders find ways to empower their teams to adapt. Great leaders — like many small-business owners — adapt along with their teams and make their organizations better for it.
So, please take a moment to salute small businesses, whether it’s a day set aside for them or one of the other 364 days on the calendar. And don’t pass on the opportunity to learn from their example.