These past two years have reminded us all that small business heroes like you have the talent, grit, and determination to survive any challenge. It's one of those moments in history that people will say, "they'll be making movies about this for years." Now is a critical time for small businesses to not just survive, but thrive--here are three tips to help you win the day. 

Heroes need to be (selling) everywhere, all at once

Independent cinema was one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic. So it's great news that this year's surprise hit is an independent film called Everything Everywhere All At Once. The title of that movie is also the best advice I can give small businesses. In a new survey of 2,000 small businesses, increasing online sales is still the number one priority for small businesses: 43% say this is their top priority today. Whether your small business sells products or provides a valuable service, an omni-channel commerce strategy is a critical part of small business success. An omni-channel platform can enable you to increase online and offline revenue without getting bogged down by operational complexity and chaos. When it comes to omni-channel sales, your favorite spreadsheet isn't up to saving the day.

About 91% of small businesses say it's important for people to be able to find or buy from their business online. Self-described "brick-and-mortar" businesses agree: three-quarters say they need to be accessible or selling online this year. For businesses that have fully integrated online and offline sales, 79% predict growth, while among brick-and-mortar businesses, only 47% predict growth. If you're a brick-and-mortar only business, make this the summer you try out an online commerce platform. Because like any hero testing their powers, sometimes it takes a leap of faith to scale to new heights.

Technology helps heroes see their (cash flow) future   

Movie heroes often rely on technology to up their game and save the day. Sometimes it's an A.I.-powered super suit, or a last-minute solution that brings a crew safely home from the stars. Our new survey found that the biggest threat facing U.S. small businesses today is inflation. More than half of all small businesses say that inflation is a threat to their business, up from 45% in December 2021. That's causing widespread cash flow problems--68% of small businesses say they have a cash flow problem. Of those who are currently experiencing cash flow problems, 40% have already dipped into their cash reserves to try to solve them. A comprehensive online small business platform can help provide cash flow clarity.  Forecasting capabilities can help small businesses plan and budget for expenses, especially with a payments solution that also offers capital. Because small business heroes want to avoid that other kind of movie moment--walking out of a traditional bank without the loan they need to keep their dream alive. 

Heroes team up for (small business) success 

By the end of most movies, the hero learns a valuable lesson--you don't have to go it alone, and teaming up is a great way to succeed.  In a new survey of more than 8,000 consumers throughout the U.S, 64% of respondents described small business owners as "community heroes." There's almost universal agreement (99%) that small businesses go above and beyond for their customers and their community--70% say they should get more recognition. Likewise, small businesses say community support is one of their most important secrets to success. 

We saw amazing examples of this community spirit during the pandemic, and it was especially true for movie theaters. According to our recent Small Business Recovery Report, movie theaters's revenues decreased by 51% on average in the first full year of the pandemic. Many independent theaters and smaller chains are still struggling to stay afloat. 

To survive, many independent movie theaters have partnered with complementary businesses in their community--companies that target similar audiences but don't compete. The result? Pop-up drive-ins that showed movies in the empty parking lots of large entertainment venues and on the sides of big buildings. Food trucks provided the popcorn, ice cream and snacks, and local musicians played onstage ahead of the main event. These team-ups helped save jobs and keep communities strong during a difficult time. How can partnerships with complimentary businesses help your company and community?  

Make time to fuel your imagination   

My favorite thing about going to the movies is getting lost in another world for a little while. Small business heroes work hard, and you need to make sure to take time off for the fun things in life. You never know where you'll find the solution to a small business challenge.