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May 1-7 was National Small Business Week in the U.S. Our team connected with an influential lineup of entrepreneurs to tackle topics and issues important to small businesses. After an exciting week of events, Cindy Bates, Vice President, US SMB, Microsoft, shares her key takeaways for businesses around the world. 

Across the globe, small businesses are powering the economy and driving innovation. In fact, small and midsize businesses make up 90 percent of the world’s businesses and account for half of all global economic output.1  Here in the United States, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business. And they are playing an increasingly important role in the job market: two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. are created by a small business.2

Every year, the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) uses National Small Business Week (NSBW) as a time to celebrate the successes of our entrepreneurs and to give back to the small business community. For me, NSBW is a personal favorite because I get the opportunity to talk with business owners about their challenges and triumphs and see firsthand the passion and energy that makes them successful.

What stood out to me, in particular, this year were the ways businesses are taking advantage of the democratization of technology. Cloud, mobile, and social are leveling the playing field, giving small businesses access to the game-changing technologies previously reserved for larger enterprises. Here are a few areas where I see this emerging trend – the democratization of technology – making a positive impact for businesses around the world.

Cybersecurity

The rate of change in the tech world can seem pretty overwhelming. But with 72 percent of cyberattacks targeting businesses with less than 100 employees,3  it’s clear that business owners can’t afford to be caught flat-footed when it comes to cybersecurity. The good news is that SMBs are taking notice. According to a Techaisle survey, security solutions are a top five SMB IT priority for 2016.4  In the 2015 survey, security solutions didn’t even make the list. I’m happy to see business owners taking steps to safeguard their businesses and proud of the commitment Microsoft has made to fighting cybercrime.

Competition

Many customers enjoy buying local from small businesses. But they also like to interact with their favorite brands in the digital world. Thanks to advances in cloud, mobile, and social, it’s now possible for small businesses to maintain a strong digital presence and use those tools to compete with larger enterprises—for customers and for talent. On Twitter, for example, 62 percent of users have discovered a small business,5  and 33 percent of those have gone on to make a purchase.6  These businesses—from espresso bars and food trucks to healthcare practices and home builders—are more competitive than ever thanks to the democratization of technology.

Diversity

In today’s globally connected, information-hungry world, I see more opportunities for a diverse array of new business owners and entrepreneurs. Here in the United States, women-owned businesses support 8.4 million jobs and contribute $1.4 trillion a year to the economy.7  And in our most populous city, New York, half of the 70,000 small businesses are owned by immigrants.8  Regardless of your age, gender, or where you call home, the digital revolution is leveling the playing field. And with more diverse businesses comes a whole host of benefits, not just for business owners, but for the communities they serve.

With technology opening new doors, there has never been a more exciting time to run a small business. If you want to learn more about how Microsoft can help your business take the next step forward, visit us online.


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1. http://www.iso.org/iso/news.htm?refid=Ref1937
2. https://www.sba.gov/nsbw/about
3. Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report
4. http://techaisle.com/smb-infographics/83-2016-top-10-smb-business-issues-it-priorities-it-challenges-infographic
5. https://blog.twitter.com/2016/infographic-how-customers-find-your-business-on-twitter?ref=us-or-tw
6. https://blog.twitter.com/2016/infographic-how-a-twitter-audience-can-benefit-your-business?ref=us-or-tw
7. U.S. Small Business Administration
8. http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/national/nyc-has-3-million-immigrants-and-thats-good-news-for-its-economy-1