4 Upcoming Business Trends of 2021
2020 has been a difficult year. Especially for small businesses. And I think all of us are ready for COVID-19 to just disappear. I know I am. Sadly, it is looking like this pandemic will continue to affect us in the many years to come, particularly small businesses. Because of this reality, it is essential to look at the upcoming trends for 2021 so that businesses can adjust their models accordingly. If we’ve learned anything this year, it is the essentiality of being adaptive. So here are a few business trends that are likely to dominate 2021. While we can never be sure, keeping these front of mind will allow your company to continue to position itself for growth.
E-Commerce has been growing for a long while, even before the pandemic. But, a report by IBM shows the shift away from physical stores to digital shopping has sped up by roughly five years, projecting growth by 20% in 2020. To best prepare for the continual shift toward e-commerce, it is important to reevaluate your business’s e-commerce presence. According to the SBA, you should focus on creating “a seamless e-commerce experience for your customers by making your site mobile-friendly.”
Technology has continued to eliminate old and create new jobs. Because of the power of automation, businesses have begun to evaluate their processes to see where they can take people out when they are not adding any true value. Especially amidst a pandemic, many businesses have tried to find areas where technology can take over so to not put a person in danger of catching COVID-19. According to Forbes, “there have already been quite a few shifts in this direction from warehouses, supply chains, autonomous vehicles, trucks, and ships, as well as chatbots that automatically take over customer service inquiries.” In 2021, it is expected that automation will grow as we continue to consider what parts of a white-collar professional's job can be given over to computers and smart robots and delivered through automated interfaces.
During lockdown, many companies had to quickly adapt to a remote workforce. This has caused many to reevaluate their business model, questioning the purpose of an actual office. According to a survey by Intermedia, 57% of small to medium-sized business owners said they will continue to offer remote work options in the long term. Along with the uncertainty of the pandemic, it is essential to consider offering remote work for your employees. This will require an investment in additional technology and software. A survey from GGV Capital shows that 54% of small business owners spent more on software solutions in 2020 than in 2019, and 75% expect that spending to increase next year. But, eliminating the expense of an office building could dramatically decrease your overall overhead costs even with technology upgrades.
Sustainability and Purpose
Sustainability has obviously been a topic of discussion for a long while, but with the pandemic this has been heightened. Because COVID-19 disrupted much of our business practices, many are beginning to realize that any form of environmental crisis could be much more damaging to the world as well as the bottom line than the pandemic. This links into the trend of wanting purpose and meaning in a job. Companies that don’t have a meaningful purpose and don’t look towards future sustainability will not attract and keep employees. Therefore, every company needs to rethink operations, environmental impact, and their products and how they are being used.
Let us continue to evaluate these upcoming trends so we can be best prepared for the future. It is essential as a business to continually look towards what is coming next so your company can stay ahead of the curve.
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