The causes and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting global struggles during the past year will long be debated. But there is one fact that will never be in dispute: small business owners and employees are some of the most resilient and resourceful people around, especially when it comes to their survival. Media coverage of the extraordinary measures small businesses took to keep their doors open the last 12 to 15 months are in endless supply. Just check out the inspiring stories from this candy shop and after-school center.

Another sobering reality for small businesses (and perhaps the rest of us too), is that life after COVID-19 will not necessarily revert to the pre-pandemic modus operandi. Pundits dubbed this reality the “new normal” to describe the different ways that post-pandemic life might be irrevocably transformed. For small business owners, this means taking account of every aspect of their businesses including operations, customer experience, human resources, and, hopefully sooner than later, growth & market expansion strategies.

How Things Might Change

We wanted to look at exactly how things might change for small businesses, so we surveyed more than 600 small businesses across a diverse set of geographies and industries including retail, finance, healthcare, and professional services. Here’s a summary of the key findings:

  • One, almost 85 percent of small businesses we surveyed reported plans to adopt a “work from anywhere” policy. This trend aligns to the move toward the general hybrid workplace among all businesses, and it’s clear that small businesses certainly plan to be at the forefront.
  • Two, the move to the hybrid workplace gives small businesses pause from a technology standpoint. Almost 70 percent of those surveyed reported security being their biggest concern. This is because more remote workers can mean more entry points for hackers and other bad actors to infiltrate a small business’ network. In general, 40 percent of our small business survey reported that remote working is a challenge for a variety of reasons, both technical and human.
  • Three, small business owners tend to be some of the most optimistic people in the world, which aligns with their entrepreneurial spirit. This optimism also extends to their staffs, as 65 percent of our survey cited that the pandemic has had a “positive impact” on motivation to work hard among their employees.

Join Us at Cisco Live 2021

We’ll discuss these survey results in context with the future of small business in our Cisco Live on-demand session entitled “From Survive to Thrive with Cisco Designed for Small Business.” During the session, we’ll explore both the tremendous challenges and the opportunities small businesses face as they shift from mere survival to growth and expansion. Join us as we delve into the ways small businesses can use the Cisco Designed technology portfolio to fuel innovation. This includes enabling flexible but secure “work from anywhere” options for a global workforce that represents almost 90 percent of all workers.

Small businesses are expected to contribute more than a trillion dollars to the global GDP over the next three years. While the pandemic might have slowed small businesses down, there is no stopping them. I fully expect that the journey from survive to thrive will indeed be a very short one.

Interested in how Cisco can help your small business? Check out our infographic with more details on our small business-focused sessions at Cisco Live.

And don’t forget to register for Cisco Live 2021, which runs March 31 to April 1. We look forward to seeing you there!


Faith Wheller

Director of Marketing, Global

Small Business