The pandemic is not over. Some countries are still reeling under the onslaught of the virus and governments around the world are preparing for a potential third wave. However, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Increased vaccination rates and reduced positive cases are leading to fewer restrictions and a slow opening up. The US is expecting strong economic growth for the second quarter of 2021 as malls, restaurants, gyms, etc see an increase in demand as activities resume.
Despite the challenges of the year 2020, many people have chosen to start their own business during the pandemic. The motivations may range from, dissatisfaction with your current job, having discovered a passion, wanting to be your own boss, etc. Whatever the reason, being a small business owner is always challenging. We take a look at some trends that small business owners should be aware of for 2021.
1. Social Media for Marketing
Globally the use of social media increased by 5% compared to the previous year. As people spent more time indoors due to stay-at-home orders, they spent more time on social platforms. Even as some countries reopen, these increased usage habits are expected to continue. By 2022 it is expected that 55% of Americans will have cut the cord to their traditional cable tv subscription. Newspaper and magazine subscriptions are down. There is an effective way for local businesses to leverage clever print marketing techniques. However, there is no escaping the reality that users today are online. Its where they consume content, interact socially, find information, and reliable recommendations. Social media will play a crucial role for small businesses to reach their audience.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram provide a highly cost-effective platform for small businesses to reach their intended audience. They allow for targeting via age, gender, location, etc. Even as users become more privacy-conscious they will continue to share this type of basic information with these platforms. As a small business owner, you should segment your audience based on these demographics so that you can serve relevant ads and get high conversions. Check out this list of 33 Best Tools for Small Businesses - Free & Paid.
2. Improved Tech Adoption
Tools and technology are becoming more democratic and increasingly ubiquitous for businesses of all sizes. Today you don't need to have any technical expertise to use tools that will improve the efficiency and productivity of various business functions. There are solutions available at various price points with diverse plans to suit the needs of your small business. Below are some examples of tools that can be used for various business functions:
- Accounting: Quickbooks, Freshbooks
- Marketing: Hubspot, BuzzSumo
- Enterprise Resource Planning: Wrike, Asana
- Human Resources: Workable, Breezy HR
All areas of business can benefit from digitalization and tech adoption. Small businesses can reduce costs and the need to hire a lot of employees by investing in the right solution stack.
3. Dealing With Employees
According to Forbes, 1 in 3 Americans plans to quit their jobs after the pandemic is over. Lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have made many people reevaluate their priorities and how they want to live their lives. Many businesses were able to continue operations via remote working without any noticeable drop in productivity. In fact, in many industries working from home led to an increase in creativity and performance. Employees were able to save time that would otherwise have been spent in long commutes to and from their office. What does this mean for small businesses? Two things, first there will be a large pool of talented and experienced resources that are looking to leave corporate America behind. You can attract these resources to your business by offering better benefits, flexible schedules, and remote working opportunities. Second, small businesses need to embrace remote working. As a rule of thumb remember that if it doesn't need to be done in the office, it shouldn't have to be. Remote working has its own challenges with regards to creating team bonds and feeling connected to a business, but the benefits far outweigh the downsides. By adopting the right technologies, you will be able to run your business effectively even with a remote workforce. This will also help you save money on infrastructure and utilities.
4. Connecting With Customers
During the pandemic, many brands were unable to organize studios and spaces to create high production value videos for their social media and other platforms. Creators were making videos in their homes in order to put out content. Surprisingly this lesser produced format of content still connected with audiences. The lesson here for small businesses is that you do not need expensive equipment or massive spaces to create content your audience will enjoy. By focusing on providing quality and useful information in your content, you can create strong connections with your audience. This type of content is more relatable for people.
5. New Opportunities
How businesses work is changing rapidly. Cloud technologies, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are changing what work needs human intervention and what does not. Around the world, governments are considering legislation that will change how big tech companies work. All of these changes mean that there will be many new opportunities emerging for small businesses that are paying attention. You should be willing to expand or change your offering to leverage the changes taking place in the world of commerce. Consider using gig economy platforms to find new clients and work. Sites like Upwork and Freelancer can be an excellent source for new work.
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