Over the past two years, America’s small business owners have faced unthinkable challenges, and while we are now moving forward — albeit slowly — we know one of the biggest tools driving how we do business is the ever-evolving landscape of technology.
The pandemic changed not just how and where we work, but also how we strategize business plans and think about future business growth. The National Small Business Association (NSBA) has partnered with Cisco to develop a report on how small businesses are faring today, the lasting impacts of the pandemic, and the critical role technology plays in the recovery.
Founded in 1937, NSBA is the nation’s first small business advocacy organization, and it operates on a staunchly nonpartisan basis.
The 2021 Small Business Recovery and Technology Report (which was released in early December along with a fireside chat) revealed that 1 in 5 small business owners are not confident they will fully recover from the pandemic. Can you imagine how different your town would look if 1 in 5 storefronts was vacant?
Certainly, the fact that most small businesses do anticipate a full recovery is good, but the economic impact we all will feel if 20 percent of small businesses don’t recover is huge.
Impacting small business
When you consider the number of small businesses struggling to recover, access to safe, reliable technology is more important than ever.
Over the past 20 months, 70 percent of small business owners report some level of remote work by either themselves or their employees. Never before had so many people been relying on remote access to work, and it continues to weigh heavily on the business owners.
In fact, nearly half of all small business owners handle IT support themselves. If that fact sounds shocking, consider the realities of a small shop with five employees and what the daily work-flow really looks like. It’s not surprising that so many small business owners are not only the president and human resources manager, but often the accountant and IT expert as well.
Most small business owners, especially those with smaller firms, appear to be triaging their tech — making sure the biggest issues are taken care of and putting out the most urgent fires. However, far too few have the time and resources to strategically plan their technology. Just 1 out of every 3 small businesses has completed a technology audit.
Making technology work — and work safely — can be a daunting task, but it’s one that small businesses absolutely need to prioritize, particularly as we continue to increase our reliance on technology for economic growth.
In addition to this report, NSBA and Cisco are working to bring easy and affordable technology and cybersecurity solutions to small businesses of all sizes and industries. Fortunately, there are countless groups out there helping America’s entrepreneurs in addition to NSBA and Cisco — from the U.S. Small Business Administration to local Chambers of Commerce.
Small businesses don’t have to go it alone.