How small business is shifting in 2021

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Regardless of the industry, the small business world is always changing…especially after a year like 2020. We’ve seen resilient small business owners continue to shift their offerings and operations in the wake of COVID-19, and they have some insights (and inspiration) to share with small business owners worldwide.

Whether it’s a fitness studio offering virtual personal training or a boutique offering doorstep delivery, here are some ways business owners are adapting to find new customers, bring in revenue and market their brands. Hopefully, these ideas will get you (and your business) off to a strong start in 2021.

  • Focus on free social media marketing.
  • Adjust your product offering.
  • Actively look for new opportunities.
  • Prioritise safety.
  • Revamp (or create!) your online presence.
  • Do good deeds when you can.

Focus on free social media marketing.

Social media is a great (and above all free!) marketing tool for all kinds of small businesses – whether you use it to showcase new products, connect with customers or run giveaways.

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Adjust your product offering.

In our survey, many small business owners said that they’ve expanded their product and service offerings. Even if their business was temporarily shut down, survey participants told us they were already developing new products for reopening time.

Alison Smith, whose business mostly focused on children’s parties and workshops, started to offer boxes of chocolate making kits so kids could do them at home. They’ve proved popular enough that they now form a large part of her site.

Actively look for new opportunities.

In addition to changing up product offerings, we heard from small business owners who took advantage of limitations to create new opportunities. Catherine Davis, a designer, created free, locally-themed, colouring-in sheets that were in support of the NHS during lockdown. It meant that not only did she support her community during a difficult time, but also got her name in front of new potential clients.

Professional partnerships are another great way to embrace new opportunities. Whether it means selling another maker’s products on your online shop or joining forces with other local fitness studios to host a (socially-distanced!) pop-up, there are loads of ways to support other small businesses in your community… and boost your own business.

Prioritise safety.

More than ever, safety is top-of-mind for small business owners of all industries. We’ve seen restaurateurs shift to single-use and QR code menus, nail salons install sneeze guards and shop owners implement contactless transactions. As regulations and protocols continue to change, think about what you can do to ensure a safe experience for your customers and your employees.

Revamp (or create!) your online presence.

In a time when shopfronts are shuttered and people are stuck at home, digital tools are more important than ever. In our survey, many small business owners said that they’ve used these months to make updates to their websites and social media pages.

If you haven’t updated your website since you first set up shop two years ago, or if you don’t yet have a website yet, this is a great time to prioritise it. Think of your site as a digital shopfront, and use it to recreate the feeling of your in-shop 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 the information potential customers might need, like contact details and opening hours.

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Do good deeds when you can.

Even in the midst of uncertainty, small business owners have continued to prove their commitment to community.

Distilleries and breweries used their equipment to make hand sanitiser. Garment manufacturers adapted to produce face masks and other PPE. Creatives donated their time and talent with front-step photography projects and free window lettering.

A UK-based business coach, Mel Larsen, raised money for a food bank charity by donating fees from her online workshops. She not only donated money, but also helped those in need of emotional support through the crisis.

Small Business
to-do list

  • 1
    Revamp your website.
  • 2
    Step up your social media game.
  • 3
    Debut a new product or service.
  • 4
    Seek out new opportunities.
  • 5
    Implement new safety measures.
  • 6
    Give back to your community.