The last two years have been brutal on players in the small business world, and many didn’t survive the unprecedented upheaval triggered by the pandemic. But, humanity is generally resilient, and many initially forced adjustments in response to the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic have given rise to a number of lessons that small business owners are incorporating in their businesses going forward. We look at some of the trends which started with the pandemic and are likely to reshape the landscape for small business.
Increasing importance of employee satisfaction
At the beginning of the pandemic, lots of employees found themselves without work due to the disruption of several industries like the hospitality industry and travel. Stay-at-home orders also limited in-person shopping or business activities.
For those small businesses that managed to remain open, employees had to juggle handling a bigger workload while navigating new protocols aimed at containing the spread of the virus; a virus about which very little was known.
Needless to say, this constant existential threat and work pressures led to a lot of discontent among employees. Thus, the “Great Resignation” was born, and it is still picking up steam as 2022 gets underway.
The resultant talent shortage has forced employers to rethink their workplace policies so as to attract and retain their best employees. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable since even the loss of an employee or two can cause major disruptions to business operations.
We are seeing a big shift to employee-centric practices, such as hybrid work models in which employees can work from home on some days and come to the office on other days. Employee discontentment and the measures to increase employee satisfaction will reshape how small businesses operate for years to come.
Entrepreneurship is skyrocketing
We have mentioned that we are in the midst of the “Great Resignation” and employees aren’t simply leaving one job for another. Many are starting their own businesses, and the entrepreneurship spirit is soaring.
This new injection of fresh players into the small business sphere is causing shockwaves never seen before. For example, the gig economy has grown to previously unseen levels, and industries which were already experiencing disruption are being shaken up even more.
Inevitably, competition has multiplied several-fold and existing players will need to keep on their toes if they are to survive the onslaught of the new kids on the block. We are likely to see existing business models being reinvented and new ones being born, all with a much shorter time span than the rate at which such changes were happening in the past.
Digital footprints are changing
The shift to virtual operations has inevitably come with changes in the way businesses look at their digital presence. Since everyone is now online, firms have had to rethink how they can stand out and get an edge on the competition.
Live Shopping is one of the new ways that businesses have adopted to drive up audience engagement and boost sales numbers. People yearn for worthwhile experiences in their interactions with the brands they patronize, and live shopping plus other such creative approaches are offering audiences just that.
Players in the small business world now have to put their best foot forward and come up with creative ways in which to engage with their customers online and offline in order to survive.
The line between offline and online is blurring
In the past, businesses regarded their brick-and-mortar outlets as distinct entities from their online channels. The pandemic has flipped that on its head, and we are increasingly seeing the difference between offline and virtual melting away.
For example, small businesses that relied on conducting in-person tours took a huge hit when lockdown measures were declared. Forward-looking actors in such sectors pivoted to selling tangible goods connected to the places of interest where customers would visit.
At the same time, tours went virtual, thanks in part to the evolving virtual reality and augmented reality technologies now available. From staring collapse in the face, nimble firms are now doing brisk business by combining virtual tools with aspects of in-person activities.
Another example to drive this point home is the recently concluded 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas. Touting more than 40,000 in-person attendees, the event also saw many huge tech players participate virtually. These included Google, Twitter, Meta, Amazon and TikTok, among others.
This isn’t to say that the show was a flop; far from it! The companies that participated virtually put up a great show and the event was an overall success.
What does this mean for small business? Virtual is here to stay, and it is time to get creative and blend your in-person activities with a digital touch so that you can get the best of both worlds. And the icing on the cake is that when you go virtual, you are no longer limited to the clients who are within your geographical location!
Messaging is the new form of business communication
People use instant messaging a lot while communicating with each other, and they are demanding to communicate in the same way with businesses. Think about it, messaging brings a personal touch to the way business is conducted, and the pandemic has amplified the need for a personal touch in everything people are engaged in.
Businesses with their finger on the pulse of emerging trends have started using messaging to engage with their existing and prospective customers and we are likely to see this trend accelerate through 2022 and even beyond.
The world of business, and especially small businesses, has evolved in ways that we would have never imagined. To survive, small business owners must adapt quickly to the changing landscape if they are to stand a chance of surviving in the “new normal.” The trends above are just a tip of the iceberg, and you would be well advised to be nimble and adapt quickly so that you can have an edge on other players who are slower to adjust. Are you up to the challenge?
To Your Success,