Small Business Trends for 2022 and Beyond
Now that COVID restrictions have been lifted and removed, small businesses are continuing a growth resurgence that was interrupted by the pandemic. Many business trends that were emerging pre-COVID accelerated due to the reliance on technology during lockdowns. According to several surveys, two-thirds of small businesses expect the resurgence to continue through the next year, riding the wave on top of several trends.
Understanding these trends and what lies ahead is vital for businesses developing their strategies for 2022 and beyond.
“Me First” Attitudes and Values
The pandemic has caused many people to take stock of their lives and what they value the most. Businesses need to foster a top-down, bottom-up, people-first workplace environment built on helping everyone achieve a proper work-life balance. More businesses are looking to the hybrid workplace model that includes flexible work schedules and work-at-home opportunities to allow employees to create their optimal work schedules. This will be especially important in attracting, hiring and retaining top talent among younger generations.
Businesses Must Prepare for the Emerging Generation Z
Just as many businesses have finally adapted their strategies for the Millennial generation, Generation Z is coming of age, and it will be a force. At nearly 90 million strong, they’re expected to make up 40% of all consumers by 2022. As they begin to enter the workforce, businesses will need to reassess their recruiting and hiring processes to engage these digital natives. Businesses should be working now to develop buyer personas around the unique preferences and priorities of Gen Z.
Go Digital or Go Bust
Before the pandemic, an increasing number of small businesses were starting to embrace digital technology to compete at the next level. Those numbers only increased during the pandemic as business owners realized that digital marketing creates the scale and efficiencies needed to grow. Marketing automation is quickly becoming a crucial component of a digital marketing strategy allowing small businesses to reach a broader but more targeted audience and compete at the highest levels.
Hybrid Business Models
A growing trend before the pandemic that’s now accelerating is the hybrid offline-online business model. COVID forced many businesses to conduct commerce online, and consumers liked it. Being able to move freely between online and offline shopping is no longer just a nice-to-have for consumers—it’s now a minimum expectation. As of 2021, 80% of the U.S. population shops online, with more than half preferring it over shopping in physical stores. More than a trillion dollars is now spent each year through e-commerce.
The Rise of the Gig Economy
The gig economy has exploded since the beginning of the pandemic, allowing businesses to search globally for talent to fulfill specific needs on demand. The most significant demand for gig jobs has been in virtual assistance, graphic designers, social media, digital marketers and other tech-enabled types of jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 60 million people in the U.S.—around 36% of the country’s workforce—performed some type of freelance work in the past year, making it much easier for businesses to find their perfect gig match.
Social Media is More Influential Than Ever
Social media has reached a level of influence where, if your business isn’t on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, TikTok, Twitter or LinkedIn, you probably don’t exist to millions of social media users. In 2020, more than two-thirds of small businesses used social media, and that number is expected to grow over the next few years. But there’s a difference between being on social media and using it as a strategy to grow your business.
A growing number of businesses are investing in social media experts to help them build their online presence and engage their target market. The latest hot trend for small businesses is the use of influencer marketing on platforms like TikTok and Instagram to tell their stories and drive awareness.
Small businesses that hope to thrive in the post-pandemic world need to get on top of these trends that are shaping consumers’ and employees’ attitudes, and the way business is going to be conducted from this point forward.