Does anyone else feel like 2021 will be known as the year of transition?
After the unprecedented events of the last year, we were supposed to be returning "back to normal" in 2021, but instead, we are adjusting to the "new normal." The fight against COVID-19 isn't over and the ripples of the pandemic are here to stay. It's a tricky state to be in, especially if you're wondering whether you should kick-start your dream business in the remainder of the year or wait it out. We feel you and want to help out.
We've rounded up some small business trends that you — a pending business owner — need to consider and prepare for as we head into the last quarter of 2021. Paying attention to these trends will ensure your small business starts well, stays ahead of the competition and runs efficiently.
Is 2021 a Good Year to Start a Business?
Here are a few statistics to consider — new businesses are forming at the fastest rate in 14 years as more Americans take to entrepreneurship. The majority of them are optimistic about their returns. What trends are driving this surge in new business activity? What do these trends mean for you? Let's examine the top 10 small business trends for 2021 in further detail.
Small Business Trends in 2021
Online Presence Makes It Easier to Access Customers
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the amount of time people spend online consuming content — so what does this mean for you? Well, you'll have a larger audience pool and can virtually market 24/7 (hurray!).
It's also relatively simple to enter the online domain — you can easily build or expand your startup's digital presence by building a website (within minutes) using Wix or Paperform, getting a Google Business Profile or starting a social media account.
Ecommerce Explosion Lifts Business Possibilities
The U.S. ecommerce market is expected to reach $843 billion by the end of 2021 and is poised to become one of the fastest ways to launch a product or business.
Today, ecommerce is no longer just the retail or B2C domain; you have the option to sell almost everything online across all industries — from group classes and one-on-one consultations, to even expert e-guides and white papers. Here are some niche ecommerce businesses you could possibly start.
Ecommerce also makes it easier to engage with and solicit feedback from customers. This quick feedback loop can help you make data-based decisions for your startup.
Customers Preferences Shift from Global to Local
The trend of focusing more on local, home-grown products is expected to remain dominant. Businesses and customers are focusing on what’s available nearby and willing to spend more to stay local. In a survey by Union Bank, 72 percent of Americans said supporting small businesses was more important than getting the best deal; 43 percent even stated they were willing to spend $20 more on an item to support a small or local business.
Businesses Can Be Run on Autopilot with Automation
Starting and running a business requires you to stay on top of multiple things; this can be intimidating and you might not have to skill or interest to manage it all. Thanks to rising technology tools, you can automate multiple business functions and focus on your core strengths.
Today, you can automate almost anything, from data entry and emails, to document creation, customer service and bookkeeping. Automation increases productivity and makes it less stressful to start, run and scale a business.
Eager to start a business without the headache of securing a bank loan? We understand — traditional business loans involve a lot of paperwork, multiple trips to the bank and long processing times. Luckily, there are multiple funding options you can explore. You can raise money through crowdfunding via Kickstarter or Indiegogo, grants, or services like Kabbage and OnDeck, which allow you to file for a loan right from your phone and have rapid processing times of approximately three minutes.
If your business idea is related to manufacturing products, then you could consider funding via pre-selling products through sites like Fundable. How does it work? You'll receive advance payments from buyers against the premise of delivering products on a future date. This is an excellent financing option where you don’t have to worry about interests and can just focus on delivering the goods.
In 2021 it's completely possible to run a thriving business and have the world as your office. Through digitalization, the rise of the remote workforce and top project management apps like Trello and Asana, you can totally start, run and grow your business from any location you want.
Running a company remotely does require some work, but here are some tips that can guide you should you opt to go this way.
Stories are short, easy to make and allow you to reach a larger audience pool. Creating behind-the-scenes Stories (it could be about how you set up your workspace or decided on becoming your own boss) is authentic messaging that helps attract new customers and strengthens relationships with existing ones.
As a budding entrepreneur who might hire talent, you can expect employees to prioritize health and wellness programs benefits over other perks. Easy to implement and affordable wellness options could be a virtual step/run challenge, completing an online survey on mental health or a guided meditation class.
Prevalence of COVID-19 Related Policies & Accommodations for Employees & Customers
With the coronavirus cases on a surge again, it's likely your business will face COVID-19 related accommodations — either from employees in the form of requested time off to quarantine and recover or cancellations/refunds from consumers if the business falls under the travel category.
Many states and local jurisdictions have expanded their paid sick leave laws to accommodate COVID-19 related conditions. Stay updated on the policies that can impact your employees' and customers' rights to COVID-19 accommodations by checking with your local Small Business Administration group or the local chamber of commerce.
It Isn't Too Late to Start a Business in 2021
Here's our verdict — 2021 continues to be one of the best years to kick-start your entrepreneurial venture. The ability to work remotely, consumer preference for local products and the boom of ecommerce make it an exciting time to enter the market.
And yes, with a business, there’ll always be uncertainties, but by acknowledging and adapting to the mentioned trends, you’ll be able to start a business that is relevant, profitable and ahead of the competition.
Also, Incfile's team is there to support you with all the resources you'd need to successfully launch a business in 2021. Incfile has assisted over 500,000 small business owners by managing a lot of the legwork of filings, taxes and licenses, allowing them to do what they know best — running their business.
Swara Ahluwalia is a freelance content writer with experience in the technical, B2B and SaaS domain. She also has curated content for various lifestyle brands. In her downtime, you will most likely find Swara training for her next marathon or spending time with her two daughters.