Businesses have had to adapt considerably as a result of the events of 2020, and it’s meant that many companies have had to come up with creative solutions to keep their businesses afloat. But it has also brought about several trends that will drive small businesses in the year ahead. These are some of the most prominent small business trends we can expect to see more of in 2021 and the reasons why SMEs should consider adopting them going forward.
Video Remains King
Video will continue to thrive as a content medium, but it will also act as a bridge for other trends too. For example, we have seen the likes of Zoom take over to provide opportunities for meetings and collaboration. But video will also become a one-to-one platform for technical support, sales, and even as a way of commenting on projects. Tools like Loom are likely to become more of a regular feature in work processes for small businesses to streamline collaboration, meaning you can film a short video outlining your thoughts or a project brief compared to writing a long, complex email.
Skills Will Be Valuable
2020 saw the traditional education system grind to a halt and a shift in how we learn and expand our knowledge. More people are seeing the value in alternatives when it comes to studying. With so many options available to us now, from fully remote learning to blended courses that combine virtual classes with in-person training, we can find solutions to skill gaps much more easily. A trend we can expect to see in the coming years is businesses placing a greater focus on skills and hands-on experience compared to degrees from prestigious universities.
Convenience is a Top Priority
There’s a discernible trend where consumers are seeking convenience over everything else, from sites being easily navigable on mobile devices to the option to have items delivered to their doorstep within 24 hours. E-commerce is becoming less of an option for businesses and more of a necessity, in a host of different industries. Websites are critical for companies over storefronts as people want the option of browsing, learning and making purchases from anywhere. Any small business who wants to thrive in the current market needs to adapt accordingly and ensure that the services they offer are convenience-focused.
Businesses Embrace Automation
Automation has certainly been on the rise in recent years, but it gained a lot more traction for businesses in 2020 and that trend will continue throughout this year and beyond. Automation offers numerous benefits for small businesses, from efficient processes and reducing the need to carry out repetitive tasks to reducing the risk of human errors and optimising workforce allocation. From chatbots that provide a more efficient FAQ service for customers to using payroll and finance software to track payments, there are many ways to automate areas of your business that will improve your workflow.
Remote working was something that was forced upon many businesses in 2020, and as a result it was the only way to work. But now that businesses have adapted and found ways to make flexible working effective, it’s unlikely that many companies will return to the old way of working. It’s almost certainly here to stay, with so many employees preferring the remote lifestyle when it comes to their careers. As 2021 unfolds, more and more businesses will move to a distributed way of working. This will be about more than just necessity, as it will have to meet the desires of the workforce and to reap the rewards it offers businesses themselves, from lower office costs to accessing a wider talent pool.
Small businesses are in a unique position to pivot and take advantage of the changing times we’ve all found ourselves in. SMEs are able to adapt quickly to new trends and this makes them more future-proof than some of their larger competitors, helping them to thrive throughout the upcoming year. The trends businesses are likely to see going forward are all about creating more convenient and streamlined services, not just for their customers but for colleagues and collaborative working as well.