The New Year is just around the corner and many entrepreneurs and business owners are already preparing for what 2021 will bring. So, I thought it would be helpful if I put together a list of six business trends you can use to take your company in the right direction in 2021.
Why should you pay attention to these trends?
There are 30 million small businesses in the U.S. and competition is fierce. Every business wants to boost sales and gain more customers. The only way you can stay ahead of the pack is by constantly adjusting to market demands and needs. And you can only do this if you know the latest business trends and news.
No question about it, 2020 hasn’t turned out like most of us expected. If you want to make your business successful in 2021 and beyond, here are six trends you should be aware of.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Is Changing the Way We Do Business
AI is everywhere, and the reason it’s big is because its applications are endless. It impacts every digital market, from healthcare to cybersecurity.
In 2021, you can expect to see AI-driven solutions used for acquisitions, fundraising, and competition over talent. This year, LinkedIn stated in its Annual Emerging Jobs Report that the role of AI Specialist is the fastest-growing job in the U.S.
Self-driving cars, smart assistants, and chatbots are some of the more visible applications of AI. But smart entrepreneurs are already thinking about the different ways AI will change their industry. Some are creating new AI applications. If you run a business, think about how AI can disrupt it.
Artificial intelligence has changed the world as we know it. It has been used to prevent cyber attacks and to automate monotonous tasks. Business owners and hiring managers also use it in the hiring process.
In 2021 and beyond, you can use AI to plan your employees’ schedules as they change workspaces or projects. AI can also review past data and check how people in your organization spend their time to determine the best time to have meetings.
And as you write emails, business documents, and marketing materials, you can use our AI-powered grammar and plagiarism checker, ProWritingAid. It quickly highlights errors and stylistic issues you might miss.
2. Employee Health and Wellness Is a Priority
Many employers are discussing reopening the workplace. But two challenges make the effort more difficult: people are scared to return to an office setting, and COVID-19 numbers are still on the rise. In addition, some employees may suffer from serious complications if infected with COVID-19.
With so many people facing different challenges during the pandemic, now is the perfect time to prioritize the health and wellness of your employees. This is a business trend that will continue in 2021 and beyond, and top talent will expect nothing less.
A recent study showed that one in four women are considering leaving the workforce. But this doesn’t have to be the case. If you invest in the health and wellness of your staff, you will keep them motivated, engaged, and productive. As a result, your bottom line will improve.
Here’s what you should do.
You can allow your employees to work from home even after social distancing requirements end. If this isn’t possible, you can make working arrangements more flexible so they can spend more time with their families or quickly see a doctor whenever they feel unwell.
You should respond and adapt to employees’ needs in real time—whether they are working from home or in the workplace—to minimize business disruption.
3. Mobile Marketing Is Creative
More than half the world now uses mobile technology, and the mobile marketing industry has grown by leaps and bounds. There are more than 5 billion mobile users worldwide and most of them access the internet through their mobile devices. And by next year, the number of smartphone users is expected to be 3.8 billion.
To get ahead in mobile marketing, you must develop a brilliant strategy that will reach this massive mobile audience. As most businesses try to regain their footing after the coronavirus pandemic, mobile marketing campaigns will become more competitive. Since you’ll be competing with other brands for consumers’ attention, you have to be innovative in order to stand out.
You can use geo-targeting to show targeted ads to potential customers who are close to your business. You can also create a business app that notifies your customers about promotions and updates. Or you can use SMS marketing to stay in touch with customers who opt in.
Through mobile marketing, you can empower customers to make mobile payments. Or you can livestream videos and tell stories to your audience through your company’s social media accounts. Smartphone users are video-hungry, and sharing videos will help your business become more visible.
4. We’re Going Cashless
When was the last time you paid for something in cash? Most people don’t carry cash these days. And as digital payment options like PayPal and Google Pay become more common, cash will become more rare. It’s estimated that by 2022, mobile payments will have become so popular they will surpass cash and credit cards.
Given this trend, it may be time to consider increasing your payment method options by accepting payments via PayPal, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Stripe, Square, and even cryptocurrencies. You can also look into alternatives that allow customers to pay via text. Many customers are interested in this option, but only 4% of businesses provide it.
However, going cashless also has its own set of challenges. Some customers simply prefer paying cash, and there are also concerns related to fees and privacy. It’s also important to consider local laws. For instance, in New York City, it is illegal to operate a cashless business.
5. User Reviews Greatly Affect Buying Decisions
Reviews have the power to influence customer decisions and can also increase a company’s credibility. They can make customers trust your company and encourage them to interact with your brand.
Buying a new product or service involves many variables, but users now focus on one thing more than the rest: the reviews. Your product may be affordable and have many awesome features, but if users haven’t left great reviews, potential customers may be afraid to buy it. People feel more comfortable buying something that other people have bought, used, and liked.
97% of consumers read product reviews before deciding whether to buy a product. And most people hesitate making a purchase when there are no reviews available. Just having hundreds of 4-star ratings can make your product or service more appealing to prospects.
Small businesses outnumber large businesses in America, and these businesses don’t have deep pockets. That’s why it’s so important to focus on user reviews. When your brand is promoted by real people who aren’t your employees, it becomes more trustworthy.
6. Remote Work Is Growing
If you own a small business, you know that space and infrastructure can eat into your bottom line. Office space isn’t cheap, and if you’re already overwhelmed by other business expenses, you’ll find yourself struggling to pay rent every month.
Many businesses have embraced remote working and working 9-to-5 in an office setup is no longer the norm. And with the rise of employee apps, you can easily connect with your employees. You can send team messages, hold virtual meetings, create schedules, fill out checklists, and perform other tasks.
Sharp business owners are now using communication apps to improve employee engagement, strengthen productivity, and reduce misunderstandings. The apps offer team members a direct and immediate communication channel. In 2021 and beyond, you’ll need to rethink your communication strategies. You’ll also need to come up with ways to encourage workplace collaboration for employees in different places.
Given how this year has been, working remotely has become even more appealing. To make remote working successful for your business, keep all remote workers engaged and include them in the company culture. And before you fully embrace the work arrangement, make sure your employees know exactly what it means to work from home.
Stay a Step Ahead of the Competition by Keeping Track of New Business Trends
Smart entrepreneurs and business executives take a lot of pride in their vision. They are always looking ahead to learn how technology, consumer behavior, and markets will change over time. They also embrace the reality that things are always changing. They use new trends to their advantage and don’t resist them.
For example, when Jeff Bezos started Amazon back in 1994, it had no comparable online competition. But he understood that eCommerce was the future and tapped into the market.
Before the new year rolls around, take time to understand how markets and innovations will change in the future. How will your customers’ needs and desires change? Which technologies will hit mass adoption and which ones will be invented?
When you know the answers to these questions, you will understand how trends will disrupt or enhance your industry—or create new opportunities your competitors don’t see yet.