3 keys to small business innovation—even during challenging times

3 keys to small business innovation—even during challenging times https://ift.tt/eA8V8J

Albert Einstein said: In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

Admittedly, when you’re trying to survive in challenging circumstances, that opportunity can feel out of reach. But, it’s equally true to say that some of the world’s most successful companies started during tough times. Overcoming the incredible challenges that still lie ahead of us will be no small feat. Adaptability and a willingness to innovate will be essential in the weeks and months ahead.

We’ve already seen the effects of small business innovation from the first half of 2020. In addition to cutting costs and seeking financial aid, many small businesses quickly adopted technology that under normal circumstances would take months to onboard. Nearly 90 percent considered these purchases critical to the survival of their business. More than eighty percent of small businesses said that using new technology was key to their company’s survival and growth. Still, adapting to a new digital reality shouldn’t mean straining your resources to onboard every available digital advancement.

What do small businesses really need to drive innovation?

To quickly roll out innovations and drive business results, you need three things. I’ll touch on them here, but you can find more details in this new resiliency guide from LinkedIn and Cisco.

1. An empowered workforce

In my blog post, The future of work is here, I talk about making sure employees have the digital tools they need to work productively and securely—wherever they are. It’s equally important that these tools help employees work together. Empowering your workforce to work from anywhere is about how we stay connected to our teams and how we continue to collaborate on work.

Gartner expects that nearly 75 percent of organizations will enable some employees to permanently work outside a traditional office. Global Workplace Analytics echoes this sentiment, reporting that 30 percent of the entire workforce worldwide will work from home at least a few days a week.

This is exactly what happened at Del Brenta, a designer and manufacturer of heels, wedges, and platforms for the most recognized footwear brands in the world. This small business’s commitment to innovation allowed them to operate, even as other small companies closed their doors.

2. A secure e-commerce platform

Over the past seven months, the ways we shop have been transformed. More and more, small businesses are innovating to respond to the challenges they face by offering products and services online. E-commerce order growth is up 54 percent compared to this time last year, and according to Shopify, many brick-and-mortar stores have been able to replace 94 percent of their in-store sales online. Your ability to deliver truly exceptional online customer experiences starts with choosing the right e-commerce platform for your business. Visit the guide to learn more.

When the Vancouver candy shop Karameller shut its doors earlier this year, its ecommerce platform was ready to fill in. However, shop owner Louise Schonberg admits that she’d underestimated its significance to her business: “The website had always been an afterthought. It never received more than a handful of orders a month.” And yet, because the site was built the right way with the right technologies, everything was in place for the shop’s online resurgence—including its highest sales month ever.

3. A robust cybersecurity network

Of course, no degree of small business innovation works if it isn’t secure. Long before the first reported cases of coronavirus, small businesses said that security was their number-one priority. This isn’t surprising. Nearly 50 percent of all cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses. That’s more than the data breaches faced by public entities, financial institutions, and healthcare organizations combined.

Fortunately, putting robust defenses in place doesn’t mean you’ll need every solution on the market. Respond with the basics, then grow. The right combination of firewalls, endpoint security, and cloud security forms a strong foundation, even when employees are working outside your physical space. Make sure you apply the latest software patches and security configurations. Ensure your employees are cyber aware, relying on strong passwords and dual-factor authentication whenever possible. Also encourage caution with emails from unknown senders that contain attachments or embedded links.

Taking the time to understand the needs of your business and working with a technology partner who can customize cost-effective solutions will allow you to build a more efficient infrastructure. The technology that makes it all possible is available now.

Get more recovery tools at our Empowering Small Business Recovery resource center.

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