The major small business trends from 2500+ leaders worldwide: embracing digitalisation and thinking long term (Sponsored)

The Salesforce “Small and Medium Business Trends” report identified four key trends that are currently defining SMB’s. 

Alongside communities and governments offering more support and increased importance on engaging with employees and customers, SMBs’ are increasingly embracing digital-first approaches, and it seems that the long term changes brought about by the pandemic are here to stay. 

In this article, we take a look at Salesforce’s findings of how embracing the digital-first world and the changes made during the pandemic are shaping business approaches. 

SMBs embrace the digital-first world

While we’ve seen how communities want to support their local SMBs, pandemic restrictions and increasing dependence on the online world within society have meant that connections between businesses and consumers have also gone digital. 

SMB leaders are now prioritizing moving their business online so they can connect with customers from the comfort of home. Salesforce has found that the vast majority of SMBs have at least some of their operations online – 83%! Further, of these businesses, nearly all (95%) moved a portion of their operations online within the past year. What’s more, nearly ¾ of SMBS have increased their online presence – such as social media – over the past year. The stats don’t lie – going digital is the trend du jour. 

Driving this shift are two pillars: safety and convenience for customers and employees. 

Using technology and expanding online capabilities helps SMBs build and maintain strong relationships with their customers. They can be in constant contact with the people that are growing their company. 

71% of SMBs say their business survived the pandemic because of digitization. 

As a result, companies are investing in tech, and in a big way. Doing so helps SMBs across the board with customer engagement, increasing productivity, improving agility and increasing data security. 

The most important part of the tech stack is the customer relationship management (CRM) system, and it is being leveraged by medium and growing businesses more than any other. This cohort of businesses is also the most likely to use technologies such as customer service software, email marketing software, and ecommerce software – all of which benefit from a robust CRM. 

SMBs foresee long-term changes from the pandemic

After almost two years of quick thinking and testing business agility to the limit, SMBS are more efficient than they’ve perhaps ever been before. The pandemic experience has almost normalised having to take 180 turns on decisions at the last minute as well as normalising constantly-changing environments. 

According to SMB leaders, these changes will benefit them in the future and are now implementing pandemic-induced changes as permanent. For example, 79% of SMBs plan to offer contactless services permanently, which is particularly true for those in the consumer goods, retail, and technology industries.

The impact on work culture: taking a ‘work-from-anywhere’ approach

In addition, the pandemic will permanently affect planning and HR practices. Scenario planning is now increasingly being put as a standard part of growing businesses forecasts. 

Work culture has also changed. The so-called ‘work-from-anywhere’ era has revolutionized SMB operations.  In the long term, more than two in five SMBs plan to have employees work remotely at least half time, but a similar proportion will have most employees work in-person – this connects to the trend of putting more importance on employees wants. 

Running an SMB has never been easy — and recently, it’s only become more complicated. That being said, challenges are what can help leaders succeed and promote innovation and these new trends show that.

As SMBs around the world navigate an era defined by digitization, the perseverance and adaptability they have shown over the past year will help them triumph over whatever tribulations lie ahead.

Top characteristics for running a successful business over the next year

Engaging with customers and employees, being open to outside support, embracing digital approaches and in-writing agility as part of the business are all facets that SMBs are now considering. 

Salesforce has identified 5 characteristics that will indicate whether an SMB will sink or swim over the next year:

  1. Having market knowledge
  2. Problem-solving skills
  3. Flexibility and agility
  4. Innovative mindset
  5. Good leadership skills

Fundamental to achieving all of these is a robust CRM system. Embracing this will give SMBs the insights, data and organisation they need to take on any new challenges that 2022 might bring and will help drive success. 

Salesforce is the world’s #1 CRM, powering SMB across the world to grow sustainability. Don’t hesitate to get in touch to see how its software and businesses insights can help your business flourish and thrive. To get you started, download their CRM handbook where you’ll find practical advice on how to get started with building your CRM strategy.