The year 2020 has been a year full of change for businesses. Teams are working from home more than ever before. Teachers have learned how to teach online. Brick-and-mortar businesses are struggling to stay open while ecommerce is flourishing.
But the pandemic is not over yet, and the business world continues to face unique challenges popping up. One thing is sure – competition has not gone anywhere. In fact, it has become fiercer. Uncertainty about the future has made consumers reluctant to spend money. Businesses and consumers alike are selective with how and where they spend their money, and the purchasing decision is now tipped towards the value that any product of service can bring.
Many organisations are doing this by taking advantage of cloud computing. Secure, cloud solutions and integrations are allowing businesses to offer better services to their customers quicker. It also helps to streamline internal processes. In turn, it is saving you time to work on your business.
If an organisation is going to be viable going into 2021, they will need to continue on the path to stay ahead of current business trends.
Here are five small business trends to consider as we fire off 2021:
An online presence is a must
A 2018 study by Google indicated that 63% of shopping occasions begin online, irrespective of buying online or at a brick-and-mortar store. The purchasing journey changed in such a way that people carefully research products and services online before converting that knowledge into the decision to make a purchase. Ensure that you know who your audience is and target them. Customers want to be (or feel) in control of their purchases and you should facilitate their personalised shopping experience to your best advantage.
Let technology ease your (ac)counting
Wouldn’t you like to be connected with the data in your business? There is a list of over 800 apps businesses can ‘bank’ on. These integrate with cloud accounting software such as Xero to help you with your….uhm, counting. It is easily scalable, cost effective and simple to use. Reach out to your advisors if you are not on board yet. The best reason to adopt cloud accounting is that it leaves you with more free time to focus your attention where it is needed – firmly on the future of your business.
Local is lekker
The one thing that South Africans can do well, irrespective of our diverse cultures, is to stand together. Communities should promote the sense of togetherness and close the social distance (whilst we are still social distancing) in the local market. We are stronger together and by doing our part we can strengthen the ecosystem to secure jobs, encourage trade and jump back on the road to recovery. Recovery and growth of our economy is our collective responsibility. So, if you are not spending your money like the 57% of buyers that seek out locally and independently owned businesses to support, it’s time for some introspection.
Practice your business continuity plan
Shockingly, more than 51% of companies around the world have no plan or protocol in place to combat a global emergency. Last year certainly taught us that we need to plan for the inevitable and that we need a ‘Plan B’ at any given time to survive unanticipated disruptions. Build and maintain your scenario planning roadmap, so that you can gather yourself and react fast when disaster strikes, giving you the competitive advantage by retaining clients and protecting your employees. There is a reason why emergency fire drills are rehearsed over and over again – the more we practice for the unexpected, the less unexpected these events become, and the faster our reaction times are for better outcomes.
Perfecting hybrid working
In the finding a new balance study it came apparent that employees show a clear need for a hybrid workplace model, where some of the time is spent at the office with the added flexibility and freedom to work from home. 2020 certainly did not kill the office. The in-person collaboration and social benefits of office spaces are irreplaceable. The need for employers to invest in better facilities to enable a productive hybrid workplace model is essential. A simple example of a big need in most modern businesses that adopted open-plan workspaces, is the need for designated video-conferencing facilities. Future predictions suggest that the trend of remote employees attending meetings is here to stay. If you have not yet opened the floor for feedback in this regard, the time has arrived to find the right balance in your organisation.
None of us can predict what 2021 will bring. The unexpected curveballs that the pandemic in 2020 brought certainly challenged us all, but it enabled us to adapt to change and grow. Propel your businesses forward in 2021, by utilising the valuable skills and knowledge that 2020 taught us and paying attention to these small business trends.