For over 50 years now, the first week of May has marked National Small Business Week (NSBW). Hosted by the Small Business Association (SBA), the week marks an occasion where business owners from coast-to-coast can come together to learn, share their own expertise, network, and come away with new strategies to take their business to next level.
This year, for the very first time, Samsung was proud to be an official sponsor of Small Business Week.
Small businesses are important to Samsung, and they’re important to me personally. My father is a small business owner, who at 82 is still at his office multiple days per week, taking care of things with a hands-on approach, the way he as always has. The dedication and passion for his business that I saw first-hand, I know is just one example of the way small business owners across our country approach their work every day. When small businesses succeed, communities and the country at large are stronger.
Business owners have been seriously challenged over the past two years, and the ripple effects of the pandemic – the shift from working remote to hybrid models, supply chain issues, the Great Resignation and more – are still being felt. These challenges are well known, but the best practices to navigate them are less so.
To help business owners determine the best way forward, Samsung brought together a panel of industry experts for an in-depth roundtable discussion during NSBW – all business owners and entrepreneurs in their own right – to help provide insights and lessons from their own business and personal lives.
The ideas shared were timely and insightful, the questions from the audience were prescient, and we came away from it all feeling energized and empowered to advance our mission of helping businesses succeed through innovative technology. As part of that, I wanted to highlight four key trends that our panel discussed, bringing their own personal experiences to the table. I encourage you to not only read on below, but to also watch the full replay, embedded at the top of this post. Here are the four key trends:
1. Work arrangements should reflect the voice of your team
Employees are demanding more flexibility than ever before, after having proven that many roles can be done effectively while working remotely. In fact, a recent poll of Samsung’s Small Business Research Community showed that 75% of small businesses will retain some sort of remote or hybrid work model this year.
But how do you know that the policies you’re putting in place are the best ones for your organization – keeping in mind both your strategic goals, and the workforce that helps you meet them?
Our panelist Alexa Rose Carlin, who is the Founder/CEO of Women Empower X and an author, spoke about the importance of making sure employees know they have a meaningful voice within your organization: “As a small business owner, one of the most important things to focus on right now regarding your team, is to ensure they feel heard, connected to your greater mission and part of your team as a valued member. Ask them what they think will be best for the team and the business, making them feel heard while keeping in mind the growth of the business, and your culture.”
While navigating this new moment of remote and hybrid work will be a unique process for every company, starting with a firm focus on your employees is one way to help shore up a solid foundation for meeting these challenges head on.
2. Collaboration platforms are a great equalizer
While no business professional was a stranger to platforms like Microsoft Teams, Webex or Zoom pre-pandemic, you’d also be hard-pressed to find someone in the business world today who hasn’t seen their calendar explode with video-based meetings since the start of the pandemic.
And the reason for this is understandable – in the absence of in person connections with your team, or external partners like customers or clients, they represent one way to get together face-to-face, albeit virtually.
But similar to hybrid arrangements, what works best will differ between companies. And while there’s nothing quite like the chemistry of an in-person meeting – there are some benefits, especially for SMBs, around the flexibility these platforms can provide.
Another one of our panelists, Maribel Lopez, Founder of Lopez Research, weighed in with these thoughts: “Collaboration platforms are a grand equalizer that allows SMBs to deliver the same experience as larger companies but at a reasonable cost.”
So don’t necessarily look at your next Zoom meeting as something not-quite-as-good as in-person – the other benefits of this way of working that Maribel mentions may help outweigh some of the drawbacks.
3. Building digital relationships with a personal touch
While Maribel laid out a strong case for the benefits of digital connectivity, there’s no replacement for things like making a new connection at a tradeshow, or bringing a client in for an in-person kickoff or to finalize a new agreement at a nice restaurant all together.
So how should businesses navigate the challenge of building and maintaining relationships in a digital-first world?
Tiffany C. Wright, founder of the Resourceful CEO, and another panelist who joined us for our NSBW Roundtable discussion, has built up a great roster of clients for her company via all types of networking and outreach, including a digital-first strategy:
“Things like contacting B2B customers after service or product delivery and inquiring how things went, if they need anything else and following up accordingly, can go a long way toward providing the type of personalized touch you may feel you’re missing in today’s business environment.”
4. Empower your employees with ownership
Ahead of Small Business Week, I caught up with my brother-in-law, Eddie, who owns a small wealth management firm. We discussed hiring and retention issues that many businesses face.
His point of view is one that has been consistent throughout our conversations with small business owners, the idea of ownership. While Eddie is the business owner, he gives his employees a sense of business ownership through their voice, their opinion and giving them the trust necessary to make his business successful.
Barry Moltz, a small business consultant, and the final panelist who joined us for our roundtable discussion, had a similar take on the issue: “Give your prospective new hires and employees a mission they can believe and want to be a part of. People don’t want to just work for a company, they want to be part of a cause.”
To conclude, while the business world is always in a constant state of evolution, it goes without saying that the past several years have been among the most disruptive any of us have experienced – but while the ripple effects of those disruptions continue on today, it creates new opportunities for you and your business.
And for that reason exactly, it’s never been more important for business owners to come together and exchange best practices, learnings, ask questions, and gain knowledge from one another.
We were proud to have been a part of this year’s National Small Business Week to do just that.
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