While some business trends roar onto the scene and everyone notices (Zoom and virtual conferencing tools, for example), others creep in slowly and it is easy to miss them. We don’t want your small business to miss out on any important trend that is developing and will drive your business forward in 2022, and that is why we have come up with this post so you can identify some emerging trends you need to keep an eye on.
Empathy and emotional intelligence
It is worth mentioning at this point that the U.S. is in a tight labor market, and it is getting harder (and more costly) to attract or even retain the best talent. Additionally, the pandemic triggered lots of chaos in people’s lives. This makes it crucially important for you as a small business owner to recognize the growing trend of approaching business with empathy and emotional intelligence.
Be an active listener, be genuinely concerned about what is going on in the lives of your employees and customers, and let your body language and speech show that you care. Otherwise, you risk losing your best employees or clients to other small businesses which walk the talk of the value of caring about employees and customers.
Social media is a powerful tool to reach out and engage with potential clients, but merely setting up these accounts will not cut it. Influencer marketing, especially on social media, is a growing trend for one big reason; it works.
Influencers can help you to extend the reach of your business and increase social media engagement with your brand. You don’t have to break the bank hiring the most sought-after influencers. Micro-influencers can do just as good a job for your small business by tapping into niche audiences. Jump onto this trend and watch your business grow.
There is a growing trend in which a lot of attention is going towards personal branding, not just company branding. Think Elon Musk’s Twitter handle if you want more proof of how personal branding can be good for business.
Many small business owners vanish behind the brand of their businesses, thereby missing a huge opportunity to boost their businesses. People want to know that there is a real human behind the products and services that they buy, and personal branding helps you to reveal that human side.
For example, personal branding allows you to share your vulnerabilities, interests and journey as you build your business. The insights that current and future customers get from such open sharing nurture brand loyalty and set you apart from all other firms that may be doing what you do.
With the move online, can you now see why personal branding in an important trend that you should be aware of and plan for?
The pandemic turned work places topsy-turvy as employers scrambled to transition to having their employees working from home during stay-at-home orders. As we emerge from the worst of Covid-19, there is a growing trend in which workplaces are taking on a hybrid character.
For example, many small business owners are allowing employees to have a say in deciding when they come to work and how many hours they spend there. Some employers are also allowing a mixture of remote work alongside physical presence at the workplace.
Such hybrid workplaces are likely to fare better since they allow employees to enjoy work-life balance, something that came to light during the pandemic. And with labor shortages worsening, hybrid workplaces stand a higher chance to attracting the best talent and retaining it.
Mentoring and coaching employees
A lot more employers are appreciating the value of mentoring or even coaching their teams. This helps to sharpen the hard and soft skills of team members, and also drives better engagement as compared to techniques like free lunches or a billiard table.
Mentoring and coaching can come as a natural consequence of tapping your emotional intelligence and being empathetic in the way you treat your team. This trend is likely to grow as workplace demographics shift towards younger employees who come with varying skill sets, expectations and aspirations.
Shining the spotlight on mental health
A trend that small business owners need to monitor closely is the growing attention to matters of mental health at the workplace. Employees need to feel safe to talk about any mental health struggles that they may have, such as stress due to huge workloads, anxiety about their financial status, among other concerns.
Note that it isn’t your duty to solve those mental health problems, but you can help by pointing your employees in the right direction so that they get professional help. You can also tweak your workplace policies so that some factors which are a threat to the mental health of your team can be eliminated, such as a toxic culture which creates room for some employees to be emotionally abused by workmates.
Using Google More
Google is the dominant search engine and it makes sense for any small business owner to want to use this tool to the max. Whether you are leveraging Google My Business, want to access local services or even wish to run targeted ads, Google can help you.
Search engine optimization that is cognizant of Google’s algorithm can give your small business prominence when people search for products or services that you offer.
It is therefore in your best interest as a small business owner to keep abreast of all the new developments connected to getting the best from Google. Or better yet, hire or collaborate with an expert at this since your plate is already full as a business owner.
Covid-19 compelled people to reevaluate their values, and the importance of family got the prominence it deserves. As the world recovers from the pandemic, there is a growing revolution in which family is put above everything else.
Small business owners need to recognize this trend and reorganize their policies and values so that family always comes first. For example, working long hours for weeks on end should be discouraged because it denies employees time to be with family.
As you tweak things around so that family comes first, employees will be more productive, loyal and engaged since the family-first approach supports everyone.
Networking with other business owners
Small businesses are learning that if they are to not only survive but also thrive, they need to cultivate meaningful collaborations with other small businesses. This networking is crucial for expanding market reach, learning from the successes and failures of other businesses, and finding solutions to common problems.
A clear example of this will suffice; think about a dozen business owners in the same industry coming together to form a mastermind group. This team will be better able to weather any challenges that they face due to their collaboration in discussing the problem and what can be done to resolve it so that they move their businesses forward. In contrast, a lone business owner will easily be swallowed up by any crisis that arises, and the business may go under.
Adaptability is now the name of the game and small businesses which have systems in place that facilitate nimbleness and agility will emerge stronger in 2022 and beyond. One way to be a head of the pack is by sniffing out emerging trends and including them in your game plan long before others catch on. The discussion above is a good place to start as you plan a more successful 2022 for your small business. Roll up your sleeves and enjoy the ride!
To Your Success,