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Small business owners worried about cybersecurity, succession

Rebecca White/Spokane Public Radio

A new survey asked Washington entrepreneurs about adapting during the Covid pandemic.

Washington small business owners have many of the same concerns they had before the Covid pandemic began two-and-a-half years ago. But there are a few issues to which they’re paying more attention.

The Washington Small Business Development Center and state Department of Commerce surveyed more than 1,100 businesses between March and July.

They found businessowners are still worried about attracting new customers and generating more sales. But the center’s state director, Duane Fladland, says two things are at the top of business owners’ minds.

“Concerns about cyberattacks, cyber security, and then planning for retirement. We’re seeing quite an increase in both of those," he said.

Fladland says Covid forced many firms to do more business via the Internet.

“That makes them more vulnerable then to cyberattacks and a lot of businessowners recognize that there is risk in doing business online and they have to be prepared and understand the consequences, but then how to avoid those risks," he said.

Fladland says almost six in 10 business owners reported difficulties getting supplies. Nearly half said they had trouble complying with government safety rules and a third reported problems keeping employees.

He says restaurants especially have been innovative as they developed new ways to safely serve customers. He says some created what are known as ‘ghost kitchens.’

“Restaurants no longer could take in sit down dining so what they did is go online so that people could order their menu items and then when they come to pick up those menu items, they also had a variety of grocery items, basics, things like paper towels, toilet paper," Fladland said.

So if people were having trouble finding those things in supermarkets, they could snag a few extras while picking up their Chinese take-out.

“It could be sort of a one-stop shop, which I think is really important in some of those small communities in rural Washington. I thought that was pretty creative," he said.

He hopes to conduct similar surveys for at least a few more years to see how companies continue to adapt.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.