The year 2022 has been a matter of survival for small businesses, many of which are still struggling to stabilize since the COVID-19 pandemic. As the dust settles in 2023, companies are embracing new small business trends that can have a huge impact.
To help small business owners prepare for the upcoming year, we turned to expert entrepreneurs and business leaders to get their take on what to expect in 2023. Here are the key takeaways.
1. Increased Prices as Inflation Rises
As of Q4 2022, the inflation rate is 7.7%, up from 1.4% in 2020. Keeping business steady amidst increasing rates will be key in 2023. “Small businesses have increased their product prices as a result of inflation,” says Aima Irfan, CMO of Inside Tech World. She goes on to explain that owners are “keeping up with the inflation by cutting costs and reducing expenses as much as they can.”
What happens when we cut costs due to rising inflation? In today's world, mass layoffs and a switch to automation. Businesses will continue embracing automation in lieu of manual labor in 2023. As much as 53% of tasks can be automated, depending on the industry.
The benefit for small businesses: Eliminating room for human error. Once automation is set up, your business becomes a well-oiled machine. And the more streamlined your workflow is, the more time you have to efficiently deliver consistent results to your customers.
3. Online Continued Education
With the rise of working from home comes extra time to take classes for professional development, an act that an employee's company often funds. Businesses can turn their expertise into revenue by selling ebooks, video courses, webinar tickets, and certifications.
“One sector I believe will continue to thrive and grow is the online education sector," says Kelly Roach, business strategist. "It’s a resource any business in any industry can add to generate income. Being able to evolve in this landscape will be the make or break for many companies during this time."
4. E-commerce to Be Prioritized
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, total e-commerce sales in Q2 2022 increased by 13.9% from Q2 2021. Small businesses need to adapt now so they don’t suffer later.
“E-commerce will be the top business sector in 2023 because of its versatile adaptability, omnichannel retailing, and personalized products and services," says Katherine Barlow, co-founder of Wellyx. "Moreover, businesses are no longer confined to physical stores with greater growth possibilities.”
Josh Craven, CEO of Sprint Funding, adds that “consumers are going to expect even more from their online shopping experience than ever before. Small businesses need to make sure they're providing great service and fast shipping times so customers don't leave disappointed.”
5. Immersive Buyer Experiences
Sandra Iakovleva of VistaCreate says immersive experiences will take the lead across many industries in 2023. “Customers crave [immersive] experiences as new technology and solutions become available on the market. This impacts how customers choose products, what they choose to spend money on, and how they spend their leisure time in general."
As a small business, you’ve probably seen grandiose events or high-tech exhibits from Fortune 500 companies — but you don’t need a skyscraping budget to provide valuable, immersive customer experiences. Something as simple as offering a 3D rendering of a product on your website can boost customer engagement.
6. Sustainability Stays Imperative
In 2023, what’s good for the planet will be good for business — and the other way around. Forbes found that 88% of people will be loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues.
“This trend shows no signs of slowing down,” says Iakovleva. “People are becoming more and more aware of the bigger challenges ahead if we do not make more conscious choices as consumers. And this is an insight that can be used by almost every entrepreneur and small business owner in their practices.”
7. Personalized Services Soar
“We’ve seen the rise of personal services as a trend in 2022. This includes things like event planning, food delivery, cleaning, to mention a few,” says Iakovleva, who predicts this trend will continue for at least the next six years.
8. More Flexible Work Environments and Company Culture
It may no longer be enough to offer work-from-home flexibility. Thriving companies now offer benefits like four-day workweeks, and with workforces spread over the globe, hours are moving away from the standard 9–5. Culturally, digital-first companies are shifting towards a culture that promotes working during employees’ peak productivity, whenever that may be.
9. Focus on Supply Chain Security
As the effects of COVID-19 continue to rock the supply chain years after the initial outbreak, business owners must pay close attention to their flow of goods. You should have backup measures in place to proactively deal with inevitable shortages.
Remember to communicate honestly with your customer base about any issues or delays in the forecast. Your best customers will be understanding of roadblocks out of your control — but if the hiccups are consistent, consider pivoting your products to quell the instability.
10. Continued Migration to Digital
Many small businesses are hesitant to embrace new technology, usually due to a lack of know-how or budgets that don’t allow for the adoption of pricey software. But as IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence), and ML (Machine Learning) become the norm, these tools are becoming more accessible to the everyday small business owner.
IBM reports 25% percent of U.S. businesses in 2022 are using AI, and 43% are exploring it.
If you’ve spent any time on Instagram over the past year, you’ve likely noticed the boom in Reels, Instagram's short-form videos. The social media platform has algorithmically prioritized video content over static images, and businesses that don’t invest in video marketing won’t get the visibility they need to stay competitive.
New businesses open every day, but what does it take to truly thrive? The answer is always evolving. These small business trends can help point your business in the right direction and perhaps — as Iakovleva puts it — enter a “new roaring 20s.”
Karlie Kramer has over 6 years of experience in content marketing, from technical SEO and blog writing to team management and client success. She enjoys pouring over an obscene amount of cookbooks, tending to her veggie garden, and snuggling with her cat, Percy.