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Small businesses have been hit especially hard by the global pandemic. A recent survey showed that most only had about two weeks of operating capital. And money is just one problem. Small businesses have faced several challenges, from being able to facilitate remote work, being able to do it securely, and enabling teams to easily collaborate wherever work was now taking place. 

Across various industries like retail and restaurants, the business owners had to look into enabling low- or no-touch transactions, among other shifts to their business models. The question became, how can small businesses adapt, adopt, and overcome — and ultimately thrive?

Overcoming the challenges

Challenge: Remote work

Many small businesses weren’t prepared for remote access. Small businesses typically don’t have a dedicated IT staff. 

Solution: It’s all about partnerships. Small business owners really need to think about partnering with an entity that can educate them and give them the right tools. For example, technology leader Cisco has a product portfolio specifically for small business, including solutions for networking, security, collaboration, and other IT needs. What’s great about these solutions is they’re cloud-based and easy to deploy. Companies can sign up and get access to these tools right away — and they’re scalable. If you have five employees today, and then a month from now you have 10 employees, you can quickly and easily get those employees on board.

Challenge: Network security

On a home network, you can have different people accessing your company computers or other devices like a phone or tablet. Or non-company devices can be accessing your company router or networking equipment. 

Solution: Small businesses can benefit from comprehensive products. Start with a secure, robust network, because without it, nothing you put on top of it is going to work. With that foundation, you can add licenses and services, like Cisco’s Duo and Umbrella, which protect users, devices, and networks from attacks. Your partner can help assess your needs, how many staff you have, where you’re going, and then help you decide additional licenses for the functionalities that you buy.

Challenge: Collaboration

Remote work makes collaboration more difficult. The challenge is facilitating meetings, messaging, and calling from anywhere that work is being done. A comprehensive solution that can address all your collaboration needs is key.  

Solution: Small businesses should consider ‛one-stop shop’ solutions like Webex that offer various collaboration functions in one platform. And, as with security tools, they should look for solutions that allow them to easily scale. For example, with Cisco’s cloud-based collaboration solutions, you can do cloud calling, cloud messaging, and document sharing, all over the Webex platform. And then you can buy additional licenses as your small business expands and grows.

Challenge: Financing

All the technology in the world can’t help if your business can’t afford it. in addition to technical savvy, small businesses should seek out partners who offer financing solutions.

Solution: Specifically, Cisco has built a financing program called Cisco Capital for Small Business. Qualified companies can get 90 days with zero percent interest, payment-free. This provides access to the technology you need at once; you don’t have to wait. And then you can finance your payments over six months to five years to get those monthly payments low enough.

The future

As our current state will begin to shift into a hybrid model with employees both working from home and the office, a trusted partner that can help small businesses through the current crisis and beyond is crucial — that’s the vision of the future of small businesses.

For more information on Cisco Designed and additional resources for small business recovery, including a trusted Cisco partner near you, visit https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/small-business/small-business-recovery.html.

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