Every year, we not only witness the emergence of new trends but also see them leave a mark in their respective industry.

While 2020 was slightly different and the predicted trends for small businesses didn’t quite hit the mark, the massive shift brought by the pandemic was far more convoluted than what we could’ve imagined.

Not only did those trends affect people’s habits and perceptions in a semi-permanent way, but also changed the way a business functioned.

Rather than witnessing trends like “how eco-friendly initiatives reshaped businesses” or “how AI transformed the small business landscape”, we saw the entire world hit pause for a while to fathom how businesses could function-as-usual, albeit remotely.

Yes, we’ve finally entered the New Year and the roll-out of vaccines is underway but things haven’t changed much. This means we need to analyse the trends from 2020 and come up with a robust strategy for 2021.

That said, here we’ve mentioned the top 3 emerging trends which we believe will play a crucial role in 2021; something that small businesses can’t ignore.

1. Everything Digital is Going to Be the New Normal

Many small businesses, provided they had the set up to function effectively from a remote location, spent the majority of 2020 working from home in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

Not only did this shift revolutionise the way organisations operate, but also resulted in major technological changes to facilitate remote operations.

While most of us knew that this digital transformation experienced by small businesses was about to happen in the near future, it’s just that the pandemic has caused the speed at which this shift was going to happen to increase. This is exactly why our first emerging trend for 2021 is “everything digital”.

With many small businesses still working remotely, it’s obvious for the increased use of technology to be commonplace.

Having said that, businesses could expect more emails, Skype conferences and Zoom team communication over face-to-face meetings in 2021.

Moreover, even though offices might start reopening to a certain extent, the possibility is that many organisations have struck the right balance between working “from home” and “from office”; many might not even be looking forward to going to their offices anytime soon.

The point here is, while you might look at improving the physical aspects of your business like enhancing its security, opting for business door repair, creating socially distanced workspaces, etc., you also need to focus on boosting your organisation’s efficiency.

For that, you need to start implementing the necessary technological changes like bringing 24/7 IT support services, data security, etc.

2. Customers Are Starting to Become More Localised

Travelling is no longer an easy feat as it used to be in the pre-pandemic era, given that many people are either travelling less or not at all.

Speaking in terms of the geography of an area, it means just one thing – people have started becoming more localised, which is going to be a huge advantage for small businesses.

How’s that possible, you’d ask?

Well, with customers not willing to commute much in the fear of catching the virus, they’re turning towards local businesses for almost everything. This means the door to connect with and gain more customers by offering your products to people who need them has opened!

Not only will small businesses profit from increased foot-traffic in cities and towns, but can also look forward to pivoting their services to bridge the gaps in their customer’s lifestyle which have cracked open due to the lockdown.

Of course, there’s real-world proof to back this fact; many independent shops and grocery stores have witnessed a 63% increase in their sales.

For instance, maybe an average person loves drinking their morning coffee when commuting to work meaning they’d pick it up from a coffee shop that’s near their office. However, with many people working remotely, they might now fulfil their ‘morning coffee’ desire in a different manner – picking one from a local coffee shop that’s near their house.

Grocery stores, on the other hand, can start selling coffee as an additional service and profit from the increase in local demand.

Now, this isn’t just about coffee. With walking and cycling being encouraged more, people have started spending the majority of the time in their locality. This means small businesses can do well in 2021 by engaging with local customers and capitalising on local opportunities.

3. Relationship Management will Play a Crucial Role

As per research, many successful small businesses reacted to the pandemic by taking account of the “new normal”, getting in touch with their key stakeholders and creating a strategy on how they could make the necessary changes and accordingly relaunch their company.

Here, the “key stakeholders” element is all about investing more time in the relationships your business has with its essential suppliers and customers.

After all, it’s likely that 2021 could face more local lockdowns and other unprecedented changes making it extremely crucial for small businesses to perform at its best and constantly communicate with potential customers and suppliers to easily surf through the upcoming challenges.

What’s more, small business owners will have to come up with strong continuity plans while also relatively creating short-term goals. That way, in times of a crisis situation, you could easily predict success.

Creating contingency plans and short-term goals are particularly important in the small-and-medium-sized businesses landscape, given the constant shift.

Moreover, only by adapting to the changes and your plan of action will you be able to ensure that your business keeps functioning successfully even during a pandemic.

To Sum Up

Yes, 2020 was a year like no other! Yes, we’ve finally entered 2021 and while we’re still dealing with the pandemic and lockdown in various countries, it only makes sense to keep adapting to the new changes.

Furthermore, while these trends have just started to emerge in the SME landscape, it’s crucial that you start including them in your 2021 business plans!

Author Bio – Aishwarya works as the Lead Content Writer at DW Images. She loves writing about photography tips, latest business trends and technological advancements. When she’s not weaving words to craft a magical content, she’s busy exploring every nook and cranny of the world!