This year was full of unexpected disruptions and transitions for small businesses, and it’s looking like 2021 will be the year of continued growth. Small businesses must put all that was learned this year into action in order to achieve success.
Here are eight small business trends to watch for in 2021 so you can thrive and stay ahead of the competition:
Remote Work Is Growing
If there’s anything this year taught us, it’s that work can still get done outside of the office. As a small business, workspace and infrastructure can be pretty costly. Real estate takes a decent chunk out of revenue and can cause you to struggle far more if you’re drowning in other costs.
Working remotely has appealed to many small businesses as working a 9 to 5 is no longer the norm. The creation and advancement of technology with video conferences, project management applications, and online messaging platforms have made it easy to stay productive and efficient from virtually anywhere.
Company Culture Matters
As the younger generations of Gen Z and the tail end of Millennials take up a large population of the workforce, there’s a shift in career values. Before these generations, income and salary were the most important factors. But, this new workforce segment values the culture of a company and how they are treated while working there.
It’s important to have these individuals on your team as they offer different perspectives, especially for consumers who fall into these generations. Ensure that you’re managing generational diversity in the workplace by being mindful of each individual's preferences, expectations, and traits. The more they feel comfortable and confident in their workspace, the better the outcome for both parties.
Digital Footprints Are Vital
Many small businesses were forced to move into the digital space this year and even more will convert in 2021. Pivoting online is no longer just a good idea, it’s essential. Consumers are going online to shop, research, and make other purchasing decisions. Sixty-eight percent of consumers in a survey said COVID-19 raised their expectations for business’s online capabilities.
Make sure all of your platforms are optimized for the best experience possible and schedule in time to update each one. The primary focus in this coming year should be digitizing your brand. This could be e-blasts, social media, podcasts, eCommerce, and landing pages. If you don’t ride this wave, it could be very detrimental for your business.
User-Generated Content Is Booming
Before this year, small businesses could rely on a product or service selling itself, but with the rise in user reviews swaying purchasing decisions, it’s much harder to do so. Consumers feel more comfortable purchasing something that another individual has bought and tried. One report showed that 92% of people will hesitate to complete a purchase when there are absolutely no reviews available.
When real people like influencers advocate your brand online, your business and product/service become more trustworthy and can lead to increased sales.
Promote Honesty And Transparency
In wake of COVID-19, many consumers were curious to know what businesses were doing to comply with rules and regulations on a local to a global scale. It happened time and time again when social movements like the Black Lives Matter and Women’s Rights movements came to play, as well. Many consumers factored these things into their purchasing decisions.
Always be as honest and transparent as possible with your consumers. They have a right to know public information. By doing so you’ll strengthen the relationship with them and possibly turn them into loyal customers.
Utilize Mobile Marketing
If you haven’t thought about creating an app for your brand, it might be time to consider one. With an estimated five billion people carrying mobile devices, it’s the most direct channel to your audience. Marketing your business to your mobile user audiences through notifications and app features can keep you at the forefront of the consumer's mind and strengthen the relationship. As smartphones become quintessential as each day passes, we are yet to see the best of the mobile app industry.
Empathy Is The Gold Standard
After the stress and uncertainty of 2020, consumers are looking beyond the quality of products and services, they’re looking for compassion and empathy. If your brand lacks empathy, vision, and purpose, chances are consumers won’t resonate with your goals and will take their money elsewhere.
In order to build trust with consumers and create brand loyalty, you have to connect with their minds and hearts. This can be done by addressing your consumers’ needs and fears while creating a community they can grow in. Be sure to use a more compassionate voice in your marketing materials - and don’t just do it online, make sure the same compassion is there at any stage of communication.
More Consumers Will Prioritize Shopping Small
The movement to support small businesses and focus on local economic growth was a major trend this year and is looking to increase in 2021. After witnessing so many small businesses struggle or close their doors, many consumers have shifted their priorities. One survey showed that 59% of consumers would rather buy from a small business than a large corporation.
For business owners, capitalizing on this trend requires investing in local marketing and community growth. Consider charitable donations and acts that enrich the community around you.