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Small businesses benefited by going digital during the pandemic: RPT

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Enrique Ortegon, Senior Vice President, Small and Medium Businesses at Salesforce, joins Yahoo Finance to break down Salesforce’s annual small business report.

Video Transcript


- Small and medium sized business owners continue to be in survival mode. A new survey out by Salesforce shows more than 70% of those businesses survive the pandemic by going digital. Joining us now with more is Enrique Ortegon He is senior vise president of small and medium businesses at Salesforce. And we are also joined by Yahoo Finance's Dani Romero.

So Enrique, great to have you here. Let's dig into this Salesforce survey because I know you spoke to 2,500 small and medium sized businesses from around the world. What did they tell you in terms of how and where they are getting support right now?

ENRIQUE ORTEGON: All right, thank you so much, it's been such a pleasure to be here this morning. And yes, listen, in the framework of the celebration of National Small Business week, which starts today. Today, we released our fifth annual small business trends report. And we learned many things. One of them is, you know, small business owners and leaders, they're a resilient bunch. I mean, they find ways to succeed and to thrive in the hardest of times. And the last 18 months have certainly not been the exception.

One of the things that we found out is when we ask them, how do you succeed, how do you manage to survive and even thrive through these hard times? 72% of them told us, they did so by going online and adopting an online economy.

- Yeah, and to that point, you know, I guess, what were some of the methods back to the study that you found that 71% of growing small businesses, small business owners survived was through digital. Is that-- how were they able to expand their presence online?

ENRIQUE ORTEGON: Yeah, so they did several things. The first thing they did, they prioritized their customer needs and their wants. And what they realized is customers want the option. They want the flexibility to interact with businesses and services either online or in-person. Earlier in the pandemic, what they did, they set up more digital channels like e-commerce, for example. And they provided offers like, you know, contactless delivery. And they're keeping those offers alive. E-commerce continues to be increasingly adopted by small and medium businesses.

The other thing that they did also, they turn and focused on, what I like to say, both sides of the counter. So they looked and they looked at their employees. Their employees now want more flexible work arrangements. They want to work from home. So what they're doing also, they're investing on collaboration and productivity tools for their own employees, so their employees can be productive and can engage with their peers and with their customers anywhere they want. They want to be successful from anywhere.

- And what are those flexible, I guess, working arrangements? Because that's something that your survey also found, that, like, 50% of small businesses found that, you know, by having flexible work schedules, it allowed them to grow. So what-- will we see more of that? And what are the demographics to that?

ENRIQUE ORTEGON: Yeah, so absolutely. What we found includes several things. One, the ability of workers to work either 100% remotely or partially remotely. Being able to come to the office whenever it's the best time for them. It can be one day a week, it can be three day a week, or it can be being fully remote.

The other thing is working different hours. We think and we saw that the 9:00 to 5:00 is dead. Right now, employees are able to engage with their customers and with their work in the times that are most convenient to them. As we all suffer here in our pandemic, right. Some of us have children, have occupations at home, we're all here in our houses.

So we're finding that we need to find out work and that flexibility to be able to be productive at a times that is better for us. So what customers are doing. Again, they're giving their employees the tools to engage digitally and the flexibility in their schedule, right, I mean, their time to be in the office to fit their employees best needs.

- And now, back to the government support. You know, obviously, the small businesses needed it. Like you said, it's been instrumental for them to survive. What are the types of aid that they really benefited from? And do they need more aid?

ENRIQUE ORTEGON: Yeah, absolutely. So we went back and we said, you have a right in there. I mean, we asked them, how important was government assistance? How important was community support? And 69% of the leaders we talked to said, government assistance was very important. 67% said, community support was very important. Actually, 1 in 10 told us, that they will not be around how to be by a combination of government support and community assistance.

So that's why we're very happy to see that, for example, the Small Business Administration is increasing the size of their loans for $500,000 to $2 million in their economic injury and disaster program. And again, in a week like this, this is Small Business Week, it's an opportunity to celebrate, and collaborate, and support what I think is the foundation of our economy and the fabric of our society as Small Business Week.

It's an opportunity to go out there, consume small, buy small, support them, you know, write a review, talk on your social media channels. And continue to spread the love for our small and medium businesses.

- And I know that this survey was global in scope. So how do small businesses in the US, medium and small businesses here in the US, compare to those around the globe right now?

ENRIQUE ORTEGON: Yeah, I think it's a global phenomenon. What we see is around the world, they'll say there is a huge difference, right. That was one of the things that we found is the consistency around the globe. I mean, the digital economy is global. He knows no time zones, he knows no boundaries.

So in different countries around the world, the adaptation and the adoption, right, the reinvention in a digital economy is consistent. So in that sense, we saw that, again, globally, you know, the digital economy is real. 75% of the businesses, the growing business success we spoke to said, the changes they did in the past is going to help them into the long term.

So what we've seen is that, you know, around the world businesses will continue to adapt and to adopt digital tools to make their customers happier and their employees more productive.

- All right, Enrique Ortegon of Salesforce, thanks so much. And of course, Yahoo Finance's Dani Romero.