Brace for These New Business Trends
This is an article “Brace for These New Business Trends” by Marc Primo
After a devastating financial and economic meltdown for most businesses in 2020, more companies are being more optimistic after the first quarter of this year. With a smooth inoculation rollout by the government and over half of America’s adult population having been vaccinated, everyone can expect a slow return to normalcy soon.
However, this is not to say that we are out of the woods yet as recent increases in new COVID-19 cases are becoming more evident across states due to new strains of the coronavirus. The U.S. economy certainly doesn’t need more lockdown measures, just as more companies are trying to adapt to newer trends in business.
Based on what most financial experts see for businesses in the near future, here are some insights on what small to big companies should expect for the remaining three quarters of 2021:
MSMEs can survive with some help from the government
Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) suffered the biggest blows when COVID-19 upended the global economy early last year. As some 70% of businesses across the globe were forced to shut down their operations, calls for aid from the federal government are getting louder in the U.S.
The Paycheck Protection Program may just be the key to save small businesses from crashing down due to depleted cash flows. In January, a $900 billion stimulus bill paved the way for the program as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. By March, the Biden administration passed the final version of the American Rescue Plan into law for the third wave of stimulus checks amounting to a total of $1.9 trillion. This ensures that almost every American will receive $1,400 financial benefits.
With stimulus checks serving as alternative sources of funding operations, small businesses can apply for loans with more lenient payment terms depending on how companies make use of them.
For many other business owners, loans might not be an option, especially if they incurred significant financial loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. In those cases, alternative sources of funding, such as alternative lenders or investors, might be critical to attaining much-needed funding for many entrepreneurs.
Aside from government financial aid, small to medium businesses can also opt to apply for grants in financial technology, venture capital, investors, or business-to-business lending, or crowdfunding if they have access to such opportunities. This, to keep their businesses solvent while traditional funding is at a standstill due to the pandemic.
Focus on social media marketing
With the majority of the public being forced to shelter in place for most of 2020, businesses’ engagements with consumers via social media have increased, with 72% of users saying they increased media consumption while in ‘stay at home’ orders. That means that people are going online more than ever and shifting a bigger part of your marketing budget and strategy to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter can offer huge returns.
This shift is also a good investment since digital marketing is fast becoming the main channel for business-to-consumer (B2C) engagement that creates significant results in brand awareness, customer loyalty, and conversions. Finance experts even project a 15% increase in companies’ social media ad spends this year, almost doubling the over $54 billion total generated in 2017.
Undeniably, social media commerce continues to rise dramatically as most businesses also continue to cut away from traditional forms of marketing since the start of the pandemic. Digital shifts usually entail third-party help from digital marketing agencies who can perform search engine optimization, email marketing, content management, and online paid and organic advertising among others, with flexible cost estimates that can work for small businesses.
Investing in tech trends
As businesses transform digitally, innovative tech trends like cloud computing services, augmented and virtual realities, and machine learning services are also increasing to the advantage of small businesses everywhere. More providers mean more cost-efficient rates and pay-to-go arrangements that can hasten the financial requirement to acquire such tech services.
With home assistant gadgets like Alexa and Google Home being sold by the millions and becoming household fixtures globally, companies can tap into business-to-business (B2B) tech models that can easily bring their brand, products, and services to their target market’s homes. As consumers learn to adjust to virtual marketplaces for their needs, these tech innovations are game changers that push digital marketing and e-commerce to the forefront.
Today’s generation of consumers is also looking for more experiential forms of marketing which means that they need something exciting and somewhat unconventional, yet still readily accessible at a click of a button. The total number of global digital buyers this year is projected at over 2.14 billion, with smartphones being the most preferred devices where about 45% of American consumers purchase their products.
The good thing about these tech trends is their inclusivity of small businesses and startups with more providers channeling their services to help struggling companies. This gives MSMEs a fighting chance to stay afloat on digital and e-commerce platforms. All it takes is the ability to adapt to the latest innovations out there and knowing which ones can work for the business for the long term.
More paid leaves for employees
Another business trend that’s catching up today is how human resources policies are quickly upgrading benefits for employees. With a new administration focusing on changing policies on the subsequent increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 since 2009 to a potential $15, businesses would want to adjust their manpower frameworks to properly allocate funds for personnel wages.
Paid leaves are also a huge issue nowadays that healthcare and wellness are hot topics. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) has extended employees’ medical leaves which could soon turn into paid leaves to offer more benefits to workers. While the law on paid leaves has not been passed yet, there is still no way to determine if it would apply to smaller businesses that are still struggling for a rebound amid COVID-19.
At any rate, redefining operational processes based on tech innovations, seeking alternative fund sources, and reviewing manpower complement should be every company’s focus points as the U.S. economy gradually opens up in the coming months.