When I was growing up, my room was one thin piece of drywall from the most important entrepreneur in my life, my mom. My mom was a hairdresser, barber, aesthetician, cosmetologist, and eventually, a proud small business owner and entrepreneur. Over the course of my childhood, she worked in different beauty shops, barbershops, and nail salons. In those days, though, businesses like these were often fleeting; they struggled against inflation, the cost of borrowing money to grow, and overall economic malaise.
To control her own future, my mom decided to open a shop in our home, in our breezeway (that room between the garage and the main house in a lot of U.S. rambler-style homes). My mom is amazing at what she does: she’s great with people, she’s kind and caring, extroverted and positive, and she’s creative with any hairstyle. From a class-A military buzz to a Marge Simpson beehive, and everything in between—including a few mohawks for my friends back in the day—she does it all. And it shows in her success.
Small business is personal
In small towns, suburban locales, and city neighborhoods around the world, small businesses like yours (and like my mom’s) are the lifeblood of their communities. You understand because you live it every day.
Businesses like yours account for half of the global GDP and employ two-thirds of the global workforce, but the reality is about more than numbers. The truth is as personal and unique as every small business out there. It’s about taking risks and leading with passion. It’s about creating jobs and building community. It’s about making big bets and caring about customers. It’s about innovating and growing, and working hard every day to make an impact on the world.
Technology as enabler, differentiator, and transformer
The effect the right technology can have on a small business is stunning. In those halcyon, pre-Internet days when my mom opened her doors, the most important tools for operating a business like hers were a telephone line, a scheduling book, and a clunky adding machine.
In the first couple months in business, my mom was very concerned that a lot of her customers hadn’t followed her from her last shop to the new one. With some investigation, she quickly realized it was because her two teenage children were on the telephone non-stop. (Quick history lesson for the younger ones in the crowd: telephones were once attached to the wall, were only used for talking, and if someone was using the telephone, a new caller couldn’t get through—all they heard was a busy signal. And trust me when I say, our telephone was always busy!)
Despite the cost, which at the time was not inconsequential for a small operator, my mom’s biggest technology investment became a dedicated phone line. (Serendipitously, the phone was installed on that thin piece of drywall adjacent to my room, about 12 inches from my headboard. I still sometimes wake in the morning with that specific 1980s telephone ring in my head.) Connectivity was a critical element of my mom’s business! Sound familiar? What would you do in your business, how would you operate, without Wi-Fi and connectivity, and increasingly, strong digital and physical security?
While hairstyles have changed since my mom opened her shop in the breezeway, the fundamentals of a shop like hers remain. Customers go for a good haircut and maybe a nice chat with the barber. The difference today? Customers prefer to book appointments online and get confirmations via text and email. They expect the shop to have public Wi-Fi to keep them entertained while they wait, and they want to swipe a credit card to pay the bill. Customer expectations don’t change with the size of a business.
Good news: Today, businesses of all sizes have access to the latest technology. Even better news: That technology is now available to you from Cisco. Cisco just unveiled a technology portfolio curated for small businesses like yours—Cisco Designed. (The availability of products in the Cisco Designed portfolio varies by country. Please check with your local Cisco partner to learn more.)
You probably have questions, so here are a few things I think you need to know.
1. You can shop from a technology portfolio developed—and priced—exclusively for you, and small businesses like yours.
Cisco Designed is a complete portfolio of solutions that can help you build connectivity, security, and collaboration. You may see Cisco as a solution for larger organizations—and not the answer for you—yet the Cisco technology used by businesses and schools and governments all over the world can now help you run and grow your small business. It’s technology that’s innovative and tested, tried and true, and now, designed for you.
That’s something the team at Orange Sky discovered. They’re a small organization making a big impact with the homeless population in Australia, and Cisco Designed is helping. What works for them can work for you too.
2. Cisco may be big, but we kept our small business solutions simple.
Most small businesses (maybe yours?) don’t have the time or expertise to deal with technology they see as too complex. That’s why the Cisco Designed portfolio is made up of solutions like Cisco Business (read this post to learn more) and Meraki Go that were designed specifically for small businesses. These technologies are complemented by solutions like Cisco Webex and Umbrella that are easy to deploy and manage regardless of the size or type of business using them.
I told you about my mom, so you won’t be surprised to know that I love this story about the Hair It Is Barbershop where they use Meraki Go to provide connectivity for employees and customers. What excites me most, though, is how they plan to use the data Meraki Go provides to help target customers wherever they are: “Meraki Go tells me who is on the network, what devices they’re using, the most popular things they’re looking at,” says barbershop owner Danny Garcia-Decoteau. “I’m thinking that I can take the data that it’s giving me and place digital ads on those social media platforms.” This could be business-changing. Danny has discovered that the technology that helps him operate from day to day can also offer insights to grow in the future.
3. Security is top of mind for you—and for us too.
As large organizations ramp up their cybersecurity posture, small businesses have become a very tempting target for cyber criminals. In fact, 62 percent of all cyberattacks threaten small businesses like yours. The average cost of an attack? $86,500. Cisco Designed includes security solutions—like firewalls and endpoint and cloud security, all supported by a team of cyber security analysts—to help you protect your critical financial, business, and customer data. You can keep your business secure with the same expansive safety net that large organizations rely on.
Small business, meet Cisco. We’re here to keep IT simple and secure, so you can keep your business humming. Think about it: who better to help you ensure connectivity than a company that’s been in business since the beginning of the Internet, and who better to secure your small business against cyberthreats than the world’s cybersecurity leader?
Learn more about Cisco Designed solutions, how to buy, and the webinars, free trials, and demos that can help get you started.