Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Regardless of industry, the small business world is ever-changing. In 2020, we saw resilient small business owners shift their offerings and operations in the wake of COVID-19. In 2021, we saw the ripple effect of this adaptability and a renewed interest in shopping small and locally. Now, we’re looking ahead to how small business will continue shifting in 2022.
We recently worked with Andrew Grill, a leading Futurist, who has predicted key trends that will impact small businesses over the next five years. He notes that the pandemic has permanently shifted consumer behaviour and sparked a reset in the way small businesses operate. And because small businesses have proven to be so agile, they’re well positioned to take advantage of this shift.
Here’s what the future looks like for these small business industries in the next five years:
- The fitness industry should be ready to embrace Virtual Reality wearables, as well as continued at-home workouts and equipment.
- Creatives and makers should look out for expanded, accessible 3D printing.
- Home improvement specialists can expect an increase in on-demand and customisable offerings, and should also look out for 3D printing solutions for spare parts.
- In the wellness space, Andrew believes most consumers will be using some sort of wearable technology to get real-time insights into their health. He also predicts an increase in ‘digital pills’ that can help improve voice assistants.
- Restaurants and cafes should expect a rapid adoption of robotics and automation in food and beverage prep.
Ready to get ready for the future? Here are some ways you can prepare your small business for a strong start in the new year — and beyond:
- Look for new opportunities & learn as much as you can.
- Embrace change.
- Revamp (or create!) your online presence.
- Focus on free social media marketing.
Look for new opportunities & learn as much as you can.
Andrew suggests that small business owners take the time to brush up on digital skills, whether that means enrolling in a course or finding a mentor in your industry. Adding to your skill set now will pay off later, especially in a constantly changing world.
Another way to prove your adaptability and reactivity is to look for and create new opportunities. During the peak of the pandemic, we saw all kinds of small businesses adapt — like a spin studio offering virtual classes and renting out their bikes to local riders.
Professional partnerships are also key in creating new opportunities. Whether you sell another maker’s products in your online shop or join forces with other local fitness studios to host a pop-up, there are lots of ways to support other small businesses in your community, and boost your own business at the same time.
When looking to the future, Andrew suggests that small business owners start experimenting with new technology. He also recommends exploring how small business owners with physical spaces and processes can be transformed by automation. If you’re able, Andrew advises appointing a ‘data champion’ within your business. This way, you’ll have one person dedicated to understanding the data you have now and knowing what you’ll need in the future.
Revamp (or create!) your online presence.
During last year’s lockdowns, we heard from many small business owners that they took that time to make updates to their websites and social media pages. Whether you haven’t updated your website since you set up shop five years ago, or don’t yet have a website, this is a great time to prioritise it. Think of your site as a digital shop front, and use it to recreate the feeling of your in-store experience. Your site should be more than a virtual shop — include an about page, customer testimonials and high-quality photography. Also, make sure your site has all of the information potential customers need, like contact details and opening hours.
If you need help designing or redesigning your small business website, the experts at 99designs by Vista are able to help.
Focus on free social media marketing.
Social media is a great free marketing tool for all kinds of small businesses — whether you use it to showcase new products, connect with customers or run giveaways. We heard from several business owners that they started investing more time and energy into social media, whether with higher-quality product photography on Instagram or live Q&A videos on Facebook. Small business owners also told us they’ve experimented with low-cost advertising options on social media and Google ads — great options if you’re willing to spend a little bit of money.