Change. Adapt. Survive. These are words that accurately encapsulate the mantra of small business owners of 2020. Covid-19 has had what many feel are near-irreparable effects on the economy.
And small businesses have been particularly vulnerable. According to the Washington Post, 100,000 small companies have had to permanently close their doors as a result of the lockdown measures in the United States alone.
The last few years have brought big change to the business landscape, but the coming year will be even bigger than ever. To give your business the best chance in challenging conditions, watch for these trends in 2020.
The New Normal: Remote Working
Perhaps the most significant impact of social distancing is the acceptance that working from home is going to become the new normal. Businesses have been reticent to adopt remote work, but coronavirus has forced companies to change their operations. Teams and Zoom have become standard for meetings, Slack the way to communicate, and the commute has been replaced by a short walk from your bed to the desk.
The result? Many companies have realized that office space is overrated. And expensive. Employees also tend to be happier with flexible working conditions. It’s likely that once lockdown is over, the office will not be as popular as it used to be. Ask yourself: do you really need that office?
Return of Old School Marketing Methods
In the rush to join the hordes of companies taking advantage of search engine optimization and social media marketing, old school practices were left to gather dust. And back then, it kinda made sense.
Now? The market is a little saturated and online marketing opportunities are becoming more difficult and expensive. Companies are increasingly becoming aware that old school marketing methods make money.
For example, the UK’s Royal Mail found that 92% of customers open direct mail. MailChimp, one of the leading providers of email marketing, only gets a 15.2-28.5% success rate.
Changes to the Gig Economy
2020 has been a difficult year for gig economy workers. The majority have taken a severe hit to their income, and nearly 70% have reported that they’re not happy with how their employers have supported them.
Many have seen their hours cut from one day to the next. Others have gone to 0 hours with no warning. Some have had to voluntarily quit out of safety concerns and slowing demand.
The gig economy has been popular due to its flexibility, however the disadvantages have been painfully laid bare by Covid-19. The lack of unemployment benefits, sick leave, and health insurance has had devastating effects.
It is likely that governments will change legislation in order to provide greater protection for gig economy workers. This was already taking place before Covid-19 hit the United States, with California’s AB 5 going into effect on January 1, essentially making it more challenging for a business to classify a worker as an independent contractor. If your business relies on the gig economy, be prepared to face increased costs.
Consumers Want Green and Socially Responsible Businesses
Being a green and socially responsible company isn’t just the right thing to do, but it also leads to increased sales. Consumers are increasingly likely to shun companies that don’t put green initiatives at the forefront. Millennials in particular are choosy about the companies they do business with.
People used to claim they wanted to make socially responsible choices, but once they got to the cash register, things were different. In recent years the environment has been a hot topic, and Covid-19 has shown that it’s possible for countries to significantly reduce emissions. Consumers want this trend to continue. Sales figures show that consumers are now actively seeking out green products and services.
There are several easy ways your company can highlight green initiatives. For example, you can go local with any products you provide. Use local farms and responsibly-sourced food. Minimize the use of packaging, and always make it possible to recycle.
You know what they say, if you’re standing still, you’re moving backwards. Want to continue the upward trajectory in the coming year? Continue evolving your business. Follow the latest trends (but don’t haphazardly adopt them all!), invest in learning, and always keep your customers at the forefront of your business.