New Year, New Trends. 5 Small Business Trends to Keep an Eye On to Succeed in 2021

by Edgar R. Olivo

Small businesses all across the country have reset their clocks to kick off a new year. To say 2020 was an interesting year is an understatement. COVID-19 upended many dreams, forcing countless small-business owners to close or pivot almost overnight. Now that we are almost a year into the pandemic, there are plenty of lessons to capture from our combined experiences and shed a new light on emerging trends that will drive small-business growth in the new year.

If 2020 taught us anything, it was to stop and reflect on how we are currently doing business. We had to re-evaluate our financial situation, update our workplace safety and health practices, create new digital marketing strategies, and reflect on why we are in business in the first place. Remote work was a new concept for many professionals, and networking became about trust-building and adding value to important causes. What is most remarkable is how COVID-19 felt unexpected to just about everyone. Paying attention to news has now become a survival mechanism.

So, what is on the horizon now? Here are five trends every small-business owner should keep a close eye on to ensure success in the new year.

  1. Free Small-Business Consulting & New Financial Assistance Programs

There were plenty of resources available for small businesses before COVID-19, but were they accessible to anyone who needed them? The data is yet to be seen, but, there has been some great news coming from the SBA with its expansion of grant-funded Women’s Business Centers across America. This new focus will serve rural, urban and underserved communities alike. Chicanos Por La Causa in Phoenix was selected to serve as one of those centers.

In addition, a new round of stimulus funding was approved in December to assist small businesses with forgivable loans to cover certain expenses. The Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020 was signed into law on December 27, 2020, providing $284.45 billion to the Small Business Administration for additional loans. The reopening of the PPP application comes with expanded eligible borrowers and expenses. Small businesses may now apply to receive a first-time or second-time forgivable PPP loan.

  1. Going Green & Eco-Friendly Practices Are Here to Stay

Sustainability has reached a tipping point, and it is important to consumers. New data from a global survey done in 2020 by IBM Institute for Business Value & National Retail Federation discovered that six in ten consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact and seven in ten consumers would pay a premium of 35%, on average, for brands that are sustainable and environmentally responsible. And, most importantly, eight in ten consumers think sustainability is important for them.

  1. Digital Efficiency and Social Media Footprints Matter More Than Ever

Nowadays, being an efficient and productivity guru is necessary to manage virtual teams, combat cyber threats and streamline operations. During the pandemic, every business was forced to go digital and find ways to keep customers informed. Digital efficiency will be the skill of 2021 and fine-tuning a corporate voice for social media content is going to be tested again in the new year.

  1. Brick-and-Mortar or Work-from-Home or Both?

From business suit to comfortable pajamas, or wearing both, this will be a new norm as it becomes safer to leave our homes. This trend did not affect all small businesses; there are many that fared well amidst the shutdowns, but it spooked many others. Co-working offices will become a viable option for professionals, and running a small business from home will require many cities to re-think their zoning laws to allow this new economy to grow.

  1. Pricing Flexibility Options for Customers Impacted by COVID-19

The pandemic is far from over and the wallets of most consumers have been tightened to the brink. Small businesses that provide compassionate pricing or creative affordable solutions to their services or products will see a rise in recurring customers. Pricing is challenging for everyone and showing care for your consumer’s wallet will go a long way for your company standing.

By no means is this a complete list of emerging trends in the new year and every industry has managed the pandemic in many different ways. Finding opportunities to be successful in any circumstance requires us to look for them. As in 2020, we will have to pay close attention as much as possible to stay ahead of the curve.

EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.

Para la versión en español de este artículo, haga clic aquí.

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