2020 hasn’t turned out the way most small businesses expected. COVID-19 ground the world to a halt, upending industries and leaving thousands of entrepreneurs helpless in its wake.
To succeed in business, you have to be able to embrace change amidst unprecedented challenges. One of the most effective ways to stay flexible is by paying attention to trends. The greater your awareness, the better you can stay ahead of your competitors and create new opportunities for yourself.
With that in mind, check out 2020’s top business trends that small business owners should embrace post-pandemic and beyond.
Prioritize employee health and wellness
Along with the health challenges that COVID-19 brought is the stark realization that health should be everyone’s number one priority, businesses include. Now more than ever, small businesses should pay attention to how they can help their employees take care of their health and wellness.
There’s no question that this development will persist – and stay for good – throughout the rest of 2020 and beyond. Expect high-quality talent to settle for nothing less.
Studies have shown that investing in the wellness of your employees can benefit your bottom line. Happy and healthy workers take fewer sick days, are more motivated and engaged, and tend to stay longer at their companies. That’s why companies like Google, Zappos, Fitbit, Apple, and even smaller outfits have put office wellness programs in place, with great success.
The most obvious starting point this 2020? Allowing your team to work from home. And not just to satisfy social distancing requirements, but to offer the setup once COVID-19 restrictions are completely lifted.
If this is not a viable option for your small business, you can try establishing more flexible work arrangements. This way, they can enjoy a better work-life balance by spending more time with their loved ones, seeing the doctor, and other ways to take care of their well-being.
Artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to influence businesses
AI is already changing how businesses are run all over the world. Companies of all types are using AI to:
- Stop cyber-attacks
- Plot the optimum schedule for employees using machine learning
- Analyze past data to determine when is the best time to schedule meetings
- Analyze how employees are spending their time
- Automate monotonous tasks like data entry
- Assist in the hiring process
- And so much more
Failure to adapt can quickly drop you behind the competition and make you lose out on hiring top talent in the field. It can also mean getting stuck in inefficient processes that will cost time, money, and human resources. If you want to get ahead, start incorporating AI – even in small ways.
Mobile marketing will be used in more profound ways than ever
Mobile will grow in 2020 and continue well beyond this year. This trend rapidly rose during the pandemic, because people are staying home and staying connected through their mobile phones. That includes shopping related to businesses.
In fact, by 2021, experts predict that the number of smartphone users will hit 3.8 billion. Not paying attention to this trend is a surefire way to lose out on potential customers and business growth.
One way to take advantage of the mobile marketing trend is through geotargeting. It works by creating ads that target customers near your business location. Other strategies include:
- Creating an app where you can share updates and promotions
- Text marketing
- Mobile payments
- Sharing stories, photos, and live streaming from the social accounts of your business
Mobile marketing makes you more visible to audiences and allows you to engage in more personal ways than ever. While some methods are costlier than others (e.g. creating an app vs. live streaming from free social accounts), adding mobile to your marketing strategy is a smart business move.
World War Z is coming
There are now more people born between 1995 and 2012, aka Generation Z, than Millennials. Not only are they entering the workforce during an extraordinary time, but they also represent a potential customer base that numbers in the millions. Because of this, be prepared to adjust your business strategy and cater to their values and preferences if you want to pull in the Gen Z dollar.
Here’s a quick look at some of the values they hold dear:
- They prefer socially conscious brands
- Inclusivity and diversity
- Hunger to learn despite being extremely tech-savvy
- Despite their unprecedented relationship with tech, they also crave face-to-face connections
Capitalizing on these values won’t just help your business attract more Gen Z customers, but will actually improve your organization as a whole.
Cashless is here to stay
While the cashless revolution did not begin in 2020, it continues to make stronger waves year after year. The number of non-cash transactions continues to grow, hitting a 10% increase between 2016 and 2017 alone. The COVID-19 pandemic is speeding up its mainstream adoption, as touchless and contactless payments become the norm.
However, businesses have to be mindful of challenges as well. For one, there is still a significant number of customers who prefer to use cash. There are also hacking and privacy concerns when it comes to using cards and apps to pay for purchases.
Nonetheless, small businesses that use e-commerce sites should seriously consider expanding their payment options. Think about accepting payments through Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Amazon Pay, Square, and even cryptocurrencies. Jumping on the mobile trend, consider adopting text-based payments as well.
Change is inevitable, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s true that the pandemic has made it much harder for businesses to survive. But the global shifts that came after COVID-19 are also creating innovative opportunities.
Not all of these trends may be a good fit for your business, but it’s worth exploring each of them if you want your venture to grow both long-term and short-term. After all, the pandemic is just one storm that your business will have to weather – the key is to stay versatile, flexible, and willing to adapt through it all.