2020 has been an interesting year, to say the least. The problems that businesses face seem to change every week. One thing that hasn’t changed is competition. This is why it’s still important to be aware of the trends that will affect your industry next year. Small companies in particular will need to keep a watch on their competitors and industry trends to stay afloat in such uncertain times.
Trends from 2020 that will Continue in 2021
As we have learned this year, what lies ahead is simply unpredictable. However, there are some trends that stood out in 2020, and small businesses can count on them to be relevant in 2021. For example:
- User reviews matter. Your business is probably already behind if you’re not paying attention to user reviews. A large majority of consumers do research online before making a purchase. This means that consumers are already highly informed about the products or services you sell. One of the most effective ways to influence decision-making is online customer reviews. It’s crucial for any business to have online ratings, but it is especially attractive to small businesses because of the low cost. Popular review sites cost nothing, and they have high traffic. Having good customer reviews will help to build your reputation as well as trust with your consumers.
- Social media marketing is critical. Social media is one of the best ways to reach customers. If your brand doesn’t already use social media, you are missing out. One strategy to consider is partnering with a social media influencer to share your brand with their ready-made audience. If you’re unfamiliar with this idea, think of a social media influencer as a celebrity product endorsement. Social media influencers have thousands, sometimes millions of followers on these digital channels. If you can work with one of these social media influencers, even the lesser-known ones, they will bring your company to the attention of their followers—and sales will usually follow.
- Freelancing will stay hot. Most people think of Lyft or Uber when they hear freelance. They were two of the first companies to employ a fully freelanced workforce. Innovations in technology allowed these workers to increase their income levels and take control of their schedules by either having a side hustle job or a full-time freelance job. Since COVID-19, food and grocery delivery services have seen a major increase in productivity. The freelance business model is important for small businesses to consider because it gives them the freedom to expand while still being cautious in the current economy. They can hire employees for an hourly or gig-based wage which eliminates all their overhead. It also benefits the employees because they can work on their own schedule and get an extra income.
You may be familiar with these trends, but there are plenty of new trends in the small business landscape that you should be preparing for.
New Trends for 2021
2020 has been one of the most challenging years in recent history, especially for small businesses. But challenges bring about innovative solutions that could turn into opportunities for your business.
- The future of work is remote work. This trend was slowly increasing, but the pandemic caused it to skyrocket. Now even the most reluctant small business owners have converted; remote work is the future of work. Employers once feared that employees working from home would be much less productive than if they were in the office. This year has shown the opposite. Employees working from home are able to get their work done, if not done better than when they went into work. This trend for small business owners is related to the other trends below.
- Mobile communication is the standard. Now that many employees are working from home, mobile communication is the only option. This will affect small businesses in several ways, but here are two important ones. First, you need a mobile-friendly website, which means that it adapts to fit the screen on which it’s being viewed. Your website should be compatible with phone screens, tablets, laptops, and desktops in order to provide a positive experience for all consumers. Second, many job applicants apply directly from their smartphone, so if your application process doesn’t allow for this, you’ll lose the best candidates to competitors.
- Have cashless options. There are predictions that say the economy will go cashless in the near future. Paying digitally is secure, convenient, and paying in a touchless environment became a necessity this year. E-commerce, of course, lends itself to digital payment. But it might be a good idea to have a cashless payment option other than a credit card terminal available at your business. We may never go completely cash-free but having options to serve as many customers as possible is the way to go.
Small businesses across the country have been hit hard with the impact of COVID-19. There are existing trends, as well as new ones that will affect your business in 2021. In these uncertain times, it’s good to be aware of these trends and do your best to prepare for what’s ahead.