2021 was a challenging year for employees, their families, and businesses alike. Why? A rapid amount of change in a condensed timeframe to operate “as usual,” whether that was taking the kids to school, going out to lunch with colleagues, signing up a new customer or client, or processing inventory at a global scale.
These changes, to name a few, impacted the business world just as fiercely as they did in 2020. The difference was, this year, business owners had the strength, understanding, and resilience to keep their business alive. For some, it was ingenuity, and for others, it was simply different hours or offering drive-up service instead of an in-store experience. Regardless of how it happened, we can agree that it did happen. Businesses survived by coming together to build a bigger and stronger community.
As we look ahead to 2022, what can small business owners expect, what business elements should they shine a brighter light on, and how can these businesses continue to thrive in this new climate? Here are four trends we suggest jumping on as soon as the ball drops in New York!
Family-first Values and Culture
Companies large and small all tend to say that they have a great culture, but what exactly does that mean? For many, this means understanding how your organization treats employees who need to step away from the office to take care of a family issue. Does the company offer a flexible work schedule on an as-needed basis? Are employees able to leverage video conferencing (like Zoom or Teams) to attend urgent or mandatory meetings when they are unable to be physically at their desks?
As the workforce landscape dawns a new era, what do your employees need to make them feel like the company culture not only works for them but also represents them? Start by polling employees to understand their wants and needs. Ask about family, financial goals and independence, employee benefit gaps (like health insurance, retirement planning (aka. 401(k)), and paid family leave. A family-first approach to company values and culture shows employees that the business understands and sympathizes with the unique challenges that family and dependent relationships bring to the conference room table. Embrace these challenges—win the employee loyalty battle in the New Year.
Digital and Cloud Technologies
Another change the COVID-19 pandemic brought to business was an accelerated focus on the adoption of digital storage and cloud computing. “…Global spending on cloud services is expected to reach over $482 billion in 2022, up from #313 billion in 2020,” according to Forbes. For businesses large and small, this means a vigorous shift to cloud-based software, security, and storage, all with a goal of prime sustainability as we move toward the next decade of technological innovation.
Web-based applications often have native cloud storage, improving their overall agility and portability. Transitioning from hardware and software to web-based tech will force software companies to focus on these digital formats.
Brands like Amazon, Tesla, and Facebook all have one thing in common: Their founders are well-known. These brands are more than a logo or a product and service; they represent the founder(s) and the personal brand they carry with them. Business owners and employees in 2022 will be looking to bolster their personal branding by delivering value, building or maintaining an authentic social media presence, and having a clear understanding of who their audience is.
For business owners, their audience is likely other business owners in the same field or industry. The purpose of their social media would be to promote their own business, offer suggestions and support to other business owners in their community, and make the stories they share something worth watching. From business tips to deals and customer feedback/responses/stories—every person has a brand and a story to share. In 2022, embrace your brand and share it.
Online Purchases and Contactless Payments
The trajectory of shopping online and processing contactless payments is not projected to slow in 2022. We are anticipating seeing e-commerce sales hit a record first trillion-dollar year in 2022, with most sales executed on smartphones. Online smartphone purchases include everything from home improvement products and beauty care to exercise equipment, car parts, and groceries.
Regarding contactless payments, retailers will be expected to prioritize payment processing options and speed while maintaining strict security protocols on their side to ensure the safety of processed payments and consumer details. QR codes are likely to also see a boom in 2022 as a payment mechanism option. QR codes are not only convenient for customers, but they naturally lend themselves to a more shopper-friendly experience for both the customer and the retail associate.
Looking back on a fulfilling 2021, the future will only continue to burn brighter each coming year. Business owners will focus on rebuilding their customer base and further building out their online presence. This coupled with contactless payments, growing a personal brand, doubling down on digital and cloud technologies, and highlighting your organization’s family-first culture is sure to result in a successful 2022. When you’re ready to get started, let our Strategic Relations team assist you in prepping for a strong year ahead.