While most of us are still wrapping our heads around what happened in 2020, we’re getting close to the end of this tumultuous year. It’s time to start thinking about what’s to come.
Businesses of all shapes, sizes and markets had to weather the storms that came along with the pandemic. We’re still watching for how the worldwide economy will recover, and what businesses will survive.
Small businesses were especially hit hard. The 5.9 million small businesses in the UK that started out in the year of 2020 could see as many as two-fifths of that number close permanently due to Covid-19.
Through the rough waters, small business owners and prospective launchers are looking for trend predictions for the coming year. What can we expect, apart from the unexpected?
Remote Work Will Continue
The year 2020 saw a strong rise in working from home, all across the globe. Even now, the government is encouraging as many as possible to work from home, encouraging workers to try to do so at least until April. This is a strategic part of the winter plan outlined by the Strategic Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
Even without those government-advised precautions, 2020 has shown many enterprises how remote working can be beneficial both to individual workers and to the company as a whole, as it can potentially cut down on overhead.
As more and more businesses turn to a remote work strategy, we can expect that this trend will continue, and possibly even accelerate. If your small business is not already allowing for working from home, it’s certainly a good idea to explore the possibilities.
Freelance Workers Will Be In Demand
The effort to cut down on overhead has also led to a rise in freelance employment, as more and more seek to be their own boss in what is popularly known as a “gig economy.” More than 2 million workers in the UK identify themselves as freelancers.
Freelancing offers benefits both to the worker and to the company that contracts with them. Freelancers are able to choose what work they do and who they do business with, and most of them have the opportunity to work from home. The business that works with them saves money on regular employment, as well as potentially saving on office space and other traditional costs such as spending £152 on a custom logo design is far lesser than £500 or more on the same type of brand identity design to start their business online.
Freelancing goes hand in hand with the work from home trend, and is an excellent way for small businesses to find talent without a prolonged investment.
Expect An Increase In eCommerce
Along the same lines, 2020 has shown just how important online services are to small business survival and growth. As brick and mortar stores were closed down due to health mandates, they were forced to turn to online sales in order to keep the businesses running.
And customers responded to availability online, enabling many enterprises to continue through times of government-mandated closures.
eCommerce was already seeing a rise, prior to Covid-19. The UK ranks as the world’s third-largest eCommerce market, with almost £200 billion in sales in 2019. Worldwide, the projected growth rate of eCommerce is 6.7% yearly, which may see a further boost by the growing trend towards online sales.
Ultimately, if your small business isn’t already taking advantage of online sales and services, this ranks as one of the most vital actions that can be taken for 2021.
Expect To Go Cashless
The cashless trend is already in place, with eCommerce booming. Some studies suggest that one in ten adults in the UK are choosing to go cashless; among adults aged 25-34, that statistic goes up to one in six. Contactless payments in the UK are growing by over 30% per year, reaching well over seven and a half billion. Cashless apps like Venmo are growing in popularity across Europe and the United States.
And the pandemic has only increased this already-existing trend.
Small businesses should definitely expect to offer contactless and cashless payment systems during 2021, in order to reach the greatest amount of customers.
Growing Your Small Business In 2022
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that it’s impossible to predict everything that the new year will bring. But we can also learn from the events of 2019-2021, and put them to work to help us see success in small business endeavors in the coming year.