The U.S. economy is recovering and working hard to get back to normal. But since COVID, what exactly is the new normal? And which industries are best poised to come roaring back in 2022? Things have changed since the pandemic. Travel, dining and entertainment have all been impacted, and for the most part, the impact has been negative. Other sectors have moved forward, including technology, which was best suited to cope with the lockdowns and work-from-home policies implemented during the last year. Online teaching, healthcare and particularly behavioral health have also been in demand. But will this continue in 2022?
Although we do not have a crystal ball to help us look into the future, we have a pretty good idea when it comes to businesses people are starting. So which businesses will grow in the future in the U.S.? Here is what’s shaping up to be the top five business and industry trends for 2022.
Popular Business Sectors in 2021
A year of lockdowns, distance learning and remote work has created a great deal of pent-up demand when it comes to travel, dining and entertainment. The availability of vaccines, improved medical treatments, a better understanding of the coronavirus — or even burnout from the population — has increased demand for industries and services that have been worst hit by the pandemic.
That’s why it’s no surprise that once people started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, they jumped at the opportunity to plan vacations, eat out and look for entertainment outlets beyond the television shows and movies that they streamed from home. Some of the top 10 business sectors in 2021, including revenue growth, are as follows:
International Airlines: 61.3%
Motels and Hotels: 57.8%
Casino Hotels: 57.8%
Movie Theaters: 56.3%
Tour Operators: 53.3%
Domestic Airlines 50%
Travel Agencies: 48.3%
Concert and Event Promotion: 45.2%
Taxi and Limousine Services: 42.8%
Water Parks: 42.1%
What’s clear here is that the businesses that have suffered the most during the pandemic are spring-loaded to come roaring back. Though the extent of the percentage increases listed above may be short term, they are reflective of the realities facing these industries and types of businesses.
In addition to the sectors listed above, other businesses that saw significant growth in 2021 include: ski resorts, automobile engine and parts manufacturing, medical and recreational marijuana and real estate sales and brokerage.
And if you're wondering which states are offering the best opportunity for success and growth, CNBC recently released its list of best places for business. The ranking of states takes into account a number of criteria including: infrastructure, workforce, access to capital, cost of doing business and more. According to CNBC, America's top states for business include:
Looking Ahead: Good Business Ideas, Trends and Predictions for 2022
Now that we know what worked in 2021, it’s time to set our sights on the year ahead. What will the top five fastest-growing industries in the U.S. be in 2022? And which industries should you consider for your small business?
Increased Adoption of New Technology
Who hasn’t been on a Zoom call or a GoToMeeting this year or used collaboration software like Microsoft Teams? Whether it’s for work, school or just to stay socially connected, new technology has made its way into millions of homes and businesses, and the innovations are only expected to continue. The genie is out of the bottle. (Or is it that the toothpaste is out of the tube?)
The fact is, people will always strive for increased data and network speeds. Simply put, we will need it to meet the growing need and demand, and the opportunity is there to participate in this boon in tech opportunities.
Some of the key jobs in tech for 2022 will include:
Web Developers. This job writes the code that helps create the millions of sites that fuel the world on online ecommerce. A web developer can have different roles, from client facing and working on the design and features of a site to covering the back-end involving working with a database and network.
Software Developers. Creating computer programs and millions of mobile apps in use today is the role of a software developer. Mobile app developers are one of the fastest-growing jobs, with projected future growth expected to grow by 22 percent in the next 10 years.
Computer Systems Analysts. This role focuses on a company’s computer systems, processes and procedures. They rely heavily on information technology (IT), manage client needs and help ensure that the digital needs of a business are met.
Information Security Analysts. Analysts help protect businesses from cyberattack. They monitor and secure a company’s computer network and data.
Data Administrators. This job manages and organizes data. They make sure the information that runs off of databases is secure and runs efficiently.
Intelligence and Machine Learning
Smartphones and smart devices are one example where artificial intelligence (AI) is playing a huge role in our lives. Smart cars will use AI algorithms to maneuver through the streets. Whatever industry you are in, AI is designed to assist and augment capabilities and services, including customer service, human resources and even AI-powered apps. Some examples where AI will play an expanded role in 2022 will include:
Business forecasting and trend analysis
Customer support (chatbots)
Voice-based search and recognition
Digital Nomad Businesses as Entrepreneurs Seek Location Independence
Working as a digital nomad was on our list of growing trends in 2019, and it makes the list again in 2022. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, the number of digital nomads increased from 7.3 million in 2019 to 10.9 million in 2020. That’s an increase of 49 percent and the number is expected to grow even further.
Flexibility and location independence are becoming increasingly important for many entrepreneurs, especially millennials. These digital nomad businesses are especially well-suited to knowledge work like freelancing and consulting. New technology tools — including productivity apps, collaboration software and communications channels — makes it possible to provide knowledge services from almost anywhere as the world moves away from office jobs.
There are several types of business ideally suited for digital nomads:
Providing a freelance service like coding and development, writing, graphic design, marketing or most other types of knowledge work
Consulting and providing tailored expertise and advice in areas where you have a deep level of experience and insight
Starting a website or blog and making money through affiliate marketing or advertising
Creating and selling a knowledge product like a specialized course or an ebook
Providing services through an established platform like Fiverr, Lyft, TaskRabbit, Upwork or Toptal
Expansion of Education
One effect COVID had on society is that teachers around the country were able to connect with their students remotely through the innovative use of technology. This on-the-spot tech training presented teachers and students alike with challenges, but the end result was that K-12 students were able to participate in learning and enhance their tech skills along the way. And although college and university campuses around the country felt the financial pinch, attending class online gives those seeking a degree the opportunity to participate in a degree or certification regardless of location. Not to mention that online credits are more affordable than an in-person college experience.
Although cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are the most well-known of blockchain technology use, the field for blockchain is continuing to grow. More and more businesses are looking for blockchain developers and freelance blockchain experts as they explore using the technology in their own operations.
Don’t let the volatile nature of cryptocurrency scare you off — there are still plenty of opportunities for the less glamorous (more useful) aspects of blockchain as a good application platform. As there are more proven use cases for an open, verifiable, distributed blockchain ledger, organizations will continue to seek out coders who can bring their ideas to life.
As small business trends continue to emerge, starting a business in one of these key areas can mean success for you as a business owner. Stay attuned to what's new for 2022 and beyond to turn your business idea and dreams into reality.
Peter Mavrikis is an author and editor with over 25 years of experience in publishing. He has worked as the Editorial Director for Barron’s Educational Series, as well as Kaplan Test Prep, where he ran the test prep, foreign language, and study guide divisions. Peter has also written several books on history, exploration, science, and technology.