Paying attention to the latest small business trends puts you ahead of your competition and with 30 million small businesses in the United States, the competition is fierce. By knowing the latest business news and trends, it’s easier to grow company sales, offer better customer service, and operate more effectively.
Here’s what was predicted just in 2019 and already the latest small business trends have shifted going forward in 2021.
When you invest in your future early on, you’ll reap the benefits far more quickly and when you’re a small business, that can make all the difference.
We Highlight 13 Small Business Trends to Watch For In 2021 So You Can Beat The Competition & Boost Revenue.
1. The Focus Is On User Reviews
Purchasing a new product involves many steps but recently, users have started to focus on a single aspect above all others, the reviews. It isn’t just about features or price anymore, it’s also about what other people have to say about a particular product. Users feel a lot more comfortable purchasing something that another individual has bought and tried.
Fan & Fuel reported that 92% of people will hesitate to complete a purchase when there are absolutely no reviews available. Reviews are now essential to selling products online, just having a 4-star rating by more than hundreds of customers makes it that much easier and more appealing to customers.
Many small businesses don’t have deep pockets when it comes to marketing efforts so it’s crucial to focus on user reviews. When real people advocate your brand online, your business and product become more trustworthy and can lead to increased sales.
“Today, customer reviews influence more than 95 percent of online customers before they decide to purchase. Moreover, more than 90 percent of people step back from buying the things online which do not have any reviews, good or bad. In the coming years, these customer reviews will be the greatest influencer of any business. Most businesses will open their review forums to publish their customers’ opinions. Most importantly, brands will drive innovative marketing campaigns through these review forums to influence their target audience.” – Andrei Vasilescu, CEO and marketing expert at DontPayFull.
2. Mobile-first Employee Communication
Currently, millennials represent 50% of the workforce and are projected to represent 75% of the workforce by 2025. And if there’s one thing everyone knows about millennials, it’s that they’re very tech-savvy and mobile-driven. Therefore, if you want to keep your millennial teams focused and engaged, you need to adapt your communication efforts to their level, i.e. mobile-first communication.
Emails, intranet, phone calls, or meetings where 73% of attendees aren’t paying attention are all outdated methods to spread your message effectively to your employees. In order to boost employee communication, more businesses are shifting to using communication apps – doing so strengthens productivity, lifts engagement, reduces misunderstandings, and so much more. A communication app offers managers and employees a direct, immediate communication channel.
Connecteam helps you streamline communication, limit unnecessary phone calls, and improve employee productivity with its robust communication features:
- Surveys, Suggestion Box, and Live Polls: ensure every voice is heard through a suggestion box to gain feedback and make decisions based on organizational surveys and live-polls.
- Announcements, Newsletters, and Updates: communicate one-on-one, to a group, or the entire organization with rich and engaging content. Advanced features include pre-scheduled updates, social engagement support for likes and comments, share GIFs, videos, and memes, and automated follow-up capabilities.
- Employee Recognition and Acknowledgment: recognize star employees, share employee ‘spotlights’, and allow team members to nominate peers for awards. Boost engagement by celebrating and sharing birthday wishes, anniversaries, personal milestones, and organizational achievements.
- Employee Directory: all your team’s contact information is always available and easily searchable without needing to be saved on a personal device.
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Reach every single member in your team, with fun, dedicated, and measurable communication. Engage your team like never before, reflect your company’s culture, and solidify your employer branding with Connecteam’s employee communication and engagement app.
3. Remote Work Is Growing
As a small business, infrastructure and space can eat up costs. Real estate doesn’t come cheap and businesses must grow, however, if you’re drowning in costs then you’ll struggle far more. That’s why remote work has appealed to many small businesses – working 9-to-5 five days a week is no longer the norm. Employee apps make it easy to video conference, send team messages, fill out forms or checklists, and so on.
However, also make sure you’re familiar with the challenges, benefits, and solutions to remote work.
“People will be spending less time commuting and traveling but more time working remotely, causing business leaders to find other ways to share corporate info and increase workplace collaboration. With the rise of telecommunications (video, chats, etc.), the need for employees to hit the road has subsided, meaning that business leaders will need to rethink their communications strategies. They’ll also need to consider how to encourage workplace collaboration when everyone is in a different place.” – Jen Grogono, CEO of uStudio
And given the nature of how 2020 has been so far, remote work is even more appealing. Ensure that you’re keeping your remote workers engaged, productive, and included into the company culture, and know exactly what it means to work from home as well.
4. Gig Work Is Growing Too
According to Gallup, around 36% of workers in the United States are in the gig economy – which trends with the rise of the remote worker. Gig work is becoming popular because people like flexibility and enjoy being their own boss.
Most small businesses aren’t able to financially hire permanent employees and that makes it hard to identify and hire the right talent. That’s why gig work is key here because you can hire someone temporarily, and they can work remotely instead of at the office.
5. Go Green
A lot more people are choosing to adopt a green lifestyle. Beyond Meat is a maker of plant-based proteins and since its launch, it experienced a massive increase in stock prices – by over three times! However, for consumers, living an eco-conscious lifestyle doesn’t just mean following vegetarian diets and using organic hygiene products. Now companies of all types and sizes are amping up their efforts in order to save energy, lower carbon dioxide, use sustainable materials more often and streamline packaging.
Small Business Trends says that when appealing to new consumers, who are already in the green market, it’s not enough to just be green. “The answer may lie in supplying consumers with details — and authenticity.” As a company, you must help the customer understand exactly what an eco-friendly choice means for you and also for them.
6. Employee Happiness Matters
Employees don’t just want a big paycheck or promotions, they want to be happy at work and that means feeling like they matter and that the work they do contributes to the bottom line. Employee happiness is crucial and is directly tied to their productivity levels. Working in modern times has changed, especially when most offices have foosball tables, colorful walls, pet-friendly spaces, open workspaces, and more. All of these efforts are part of the company culture because the focus is on boosting morale and engagement while retaining top employees and attracting new hires.
“Businesses [will be] focusing on employee engagement and happiness. Because unemployment is at historic lows, keeping employees engaged and happy is critical to retaining good people. Furthermore, many people are unhappy with the state of our country and the world right now. Keeping them happier at work … boosts productivity 10 to 25 percent.” – Scott Crabtree, chief happiness officer at Happy Brain Science
As far as the latest small business trends go, this one is crucial to the success of a small business.
7. Nonmonetary Benefits And Perks
Once upon a time, it all used to be about the Benjamins, however, that’s just not what employees want anymore. “Employees today are seeking an experience, not just a job,” says Barbara Mason, Career Pathways Consulting President. Traditional compensation packages that focused mainly on 401(k), bonus, etc. aren’t as compelling anymore. Instead, employees want their daily work experience to include more effective motivators like telecommunication, flexible work hours, paternity leave and more.
While it appears like these perks are “just nice to have”, it’s important that companies recognize there is is a strong correlation between engaged employees and key business results. Find out more employee perks here.
8. E-commerce Is Dominating
Statista reported that global e-commerce will grow to about $5 trillion within the next four years. With these numbers, tons of retailers are moving investments from brick-and-mortar storefronts to online stores. It’s important to leverage social media to gain more sales, use a cutting edge warehouse to ship orders more quickly, and more. All of the following can help your e-commerce beat the competition.
9. AI Is Not Taking Over
Yes, AI helps customer support representatives deliver top-notch experiences to customers, however it isn’t going to replace the human worker. Instead, we need to look at AI as the co-worker who helps us become more efficient, so customers are better served.
“Technology is always improving, and with the latest and greatest tempting every organization, we need to keep in mind that AI and predictive analytics will not replace the human when it comes to delivering the customer experience. While there are definitely some great opportunities ahead for AI … it will not be a true game-changer, at least in the next year. AI can really be thought of as ‘augmented intelligence,’ because it can augment the human, giving people better information, greater insight and the ability to perform their roles better.” – Claire Sporton, senior vice president of customer experience innovation at Confirmit
10. Voice Recognition Is Developing
Alexa and Google Home are smart speakers that have gained huge popularity over the last couple of years. Gartner reported that almost a third of web browsing will be voice-activated by 2020 and seeing as how this kind of web searching has evolved, this isn’t surprising to see. It’s a lot easier to run a search with voice activation when we’re driving or feeding a baby.
This latest small business trend means that businesses need to create a “voice” presence on their online channels – it’s a golden opportunity for small businesses to adapt while voice searching is so new.
“Voice recognition technology has continued to improve, and, as a result, voice searches have increased in popularity. Voice search is popular because of its ease of use and speed. It’s safer for people on the go (or in a car) to search via voice command than by typing. Also, since people can talk faster than they can type, they are able to perform a voice search faster. With the increasing popularity of smart speakers, in 2019 we’ll continue to see the number of voice searches performed go up. This will reshape search engine optimization, as search is shifting to conversational and long-tail queries.” – Alex Membrillo, CEO of Cardinal Digital Marketing
11. Stories Are More Important Than A News Feed
Thanks to Snapchat, we were first introduced to “stories”, which are now a default of almost all social media channels. Stories are short video content that disappear after 24 hours – this kind of “in the moment” content makes a stronger connection to an audience.
It used to be that news feed posts brought a ton of attention to companies on social media, however, stories are growing 15x faster than the news feed. In addition, to live streaming, stories are the primary way that brands should convey their message. As a business, build an authentic voice and use it to connect with your audience. While stories are short in length and disappear, you are able to reach a larger audience and can quickly catch their attention.
12. Customer Service Should Have A Personal Touch
Providing your customer with a personalized experience is what it’s all about, after all, customers are individuals with their own tastes and wants. Consider Amazon, when visiting your homepage, you see product recommendations that are similar to something you purchased before – if you bought books then you’ll see more books or if it was running shoes then more exercise equipment is targeted. Your homepage on Amazon is tailored to your needs.
Gartner also reported that smart personalization engines that recognize customer intent will also enable digital businesses to increase profits by up to 15%. Instead of just showing every little thing to the customer, you can cut out the noise and show the options most relevant for modern customers.
13. 5G Is In The Game
The last latest small business trend is all about 5G. 5G networks will likely be all across the world in 2021 and can open avenues like we’ve never seen. On average, 5G pushes download speeds of about 1 Gbps and with high download speeds, it completely changes how we interact on the internet. It makes interactions far more instantaneous which benefits small businesses so much because they can communicate and get things done so much faster.
14. Generation Z Is Entering The Workforce
There is no doubt that you’re probably working hard to engage your younger workforce, but now, they’re about to get even younger as Generation Z is entering the workforce. In fact, Generation Z makes up around 40% of consumers and is around 86 million people right now.
In order for you to fully take advantage of Generation Z employees coming into the workforce, you need to understand how their needs and priorities differ from generations. This will allow you to better prepare your hiring process so you know what kind of candidates to look for and what questions to ask.
15. Be Active On Social Media
Research found that 77% of small businesses in the United States are using social media to promote critical business functions such as sales, marketing, and customer service. What does all this translate to? More traffic and profit for your small business!
Understand that 84% of Americans are shopping for something at any given moment so ensure you’re capitalizing on social channels to bring these consumers to your site to purchase your goods or services.
By recognizing where your weaknesses are in terms of marketing, it becomes easier to create a plan of action to correct the challenges you’re faced with. It can help to bring aboard a Generation Z worker who is incredibly tech-savvy when it comes to social media marketing as this channel alone can open doors to better profit and more customers.
The Bottom Line On Small Business Trends For 2021
2020 isn’t over yet but to date, these are the latest small business trends to keep an eye on. Stay ahead of the competition by adding these trends into your next strategy and growth meeting, it’s the best way to keep your business ahead of the competition.
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Connecteam is your tool to manage employee engagement, development, and relationship. You can streamline communication, give your employees a platform to be heard, boost engagement, strengthen the company culture, align employees with company policies, streamline daily operations, build professional skills and so much more.