If you’re weary of the word “unprecedented”, you’re probably not alone. Something that is unprecedented is not known, experienced, or done before. The world-wide pandemic certainly fits that definition.
1. Supply chain management problems
Supply chain breakdown was a hot topic in late 2021. The news featured major ports of entry with hundreds of cargo ships stalled and unable to offload goods. Unfortunately, the delays to production, shipping, and fulfillment will most likely continue throughout the year.
Consumers generally understand the problems and delays but there is still demand for on-time and free delivery. Therefore, business owners should consider adopting new shipping and logistic practices to successfully address customer expectations regarding delivery.
2. AI for small businesses
AI (Artificial Intelligence) might sound like something futuristic out of an Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator movie. Actually the field of AI research was born at a workshop at Dartmouth College in 1956.
The opposite of AI is natural intelligence, displayed by animals including humans. In business, AI technology helps to automate processes, save time, and increase productivity. AI can also help you lower costs and can simplify recruiting, customer service, and eCommerce platform implementation and operation.
3. Retail evolution
In March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic brought the U.S. economy to almost a screeching halt. “Essential” retailers like grocery stores, pharmacies, and home improvement stores like Home Depot® stayed open as essential businesses. Entire shopping malls and clothing stores were closed. “Contactless shopping” was put in place for brick and mortar stores, offering curbside pickup and emphasis on employee and customer safety.
Surprisingly, massive retail space vacancies have drawn typically digital retailers to explore physical spaces to operate from. Those retailers need to focus on nurturing the in-person customer experience.
4. Ecommerce momentum
Good news: There’s an explosion of ecommerce opportunities
Bad news: Competition is fierce
Smaller brands who prioritize customer lifetime value and promote brand loyalty will have a better chance at coming out on top. To achieve this, businesses must be transparent, authentic, and have robust customer service.
Additionally, brands should pay close attention to social media channels. Freshen up your pages. Practice meaningful engagement and respond to messages quickly. With insight and action, entrepreneurs can succeed and move forward.
5. Demand for interactive website content
Interactive content is any type of content — such as calculators, interactive infographics, white papers, and videos — requiring and encouraging website visitors to not just consume, but engage. Other types of interactive content include quizzes, surveys, raffles, and contests.
This type of content can also be an instrument to capture email addresses and recommend your products. For example, SmartBiz® has a slider tool on their application page to help business owners determine the right loan amount to support their growth initiatives.
Other types of interactive content include quizzes, surveys, raffles, and contests. These can be a great way to grow your social media presence and to encourage more people to check out your products, videos, blog, or other content.
Even the very smallest businesses can use easy online tools to add interactive content to their website.
6. Hiring changes
The rise of online forums discussing hiring practices, work/life balance, remote work, compensation, and benefits shows the worker revolution happening not just in the U.S. but around the world.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. Many of these workers didn’t drop out of the labor force. Instead they went to another company, citing better salaries and culture.
Employers should consider these factors when hiring:
- WFA (Work From Anywhere) is here to stay. Tone deaf articles about the low productivity of remote employees are quickly flooded with comments to the contrary. Commentators generally feel employers who demand employees trudge to an office are out of touch, controlling, and inflexible.
- Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) should be a top priority and can help mitigate turnover or difficulty attracting talent. Start by reviewing your mission statement. Does your mission statement represent inclusion and diversity? Audit your website or social media accounts to represent this as well. Most importantly, don’t just give lip service.
- Wellness benefits are designed to help maintain or improve employees' behavior to achieve better health and to reduce health risks. Ultimately, this helps an organization save on long-term health costs. Many companies are pivoting their wellness programs to respond to the pandemic.
7. Small business funding
With increased liquidity, more lenders will serve small businesses. That means borrowing will be more affordable for business owners with good credit scores. Banks, credit unions, alternative lenders, and fintechs (like SmartBiz) will all be working to attract small business customers in 2022. Loan approval rates from all types of lenders continue to rise according to the Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index released in February.
Staying up-to-date on small business trends is imperative in our economic climate. Here are easy-to-digest resources that track and analyze the small business landscape.
- Small Business Administration (SBA) Through the SBA newsletter, you’ll receive free small business tips, online training and information about events in your area. Keep an eye on their press releases for pertinent information.
- Entrepreneur Magazine® Advice, insight, profiles and guides for established and aspiring entrepreneurs worldwide. Writers offer real solutions to challenges faced by entrepreneurs, including tips, tools and insider news to help build and grow your business.
- The Business Journals® These newspapers reach 4 million readers each week with exclusive, in-depth coverage of local business communities. Writers provide comprehensive coverage of business news from a local, regional, and national perspective.
If you’re in need of funding for working capital or debt refinance, there are many options out there. SmartBiz works with partner banks to help entrepreneurs get the right working capital they need to move forward. In addition to facilitating SBA loans with a ten-year term, and very low monthly payments, Bank Term loans, and custom financing options are available.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The SmartBiz® Small Business Blog and other related communications from SmartBiz Loans® are intended to provide general information on relevant topics for managing small businesses. Be aware that this is not a comprehensive analysis of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide specific recommendations to you or your business with respect to the matters addressed. Please consult legal and financial processionals for further information.