Liz Barrett Foster
3 June 2021
Small businesses with fewer than 500 employees make up 99.9% of all businesses in America, according to the Small Business Administration. These businesses face new challenges going into 2022 following pandemic-related massive shutdowns, changes to operations, and even complete overhauls of cherished small businesses.
Going forward, savvy small business owners will closely monitor trends, industry forecasts, and the competition. It will take long hours, hard work, and more employees in order for businesses to recover. However, there are business-building tips and insights that can help small business owners move the needle in the right direction at a faster pace.
Simply Business compiled a list of 15 key statistics and trends that small business owners should know in 2021. Information was gathered from economy experts, government reports, market research, and financial news to extract timely and useful tips that can be applied to almost every type of business.
E-commerce in 2020 grew 44% in 2020 over the previous year, according to Digital Commerce 360. The pandemic may have started the ball rolling, but there’s no sign of it slowing down. Savvy small business owners will continue to offer additional products and services for purchase online this year.
As the economy recovers, many business owners report difficulty filling positions that would help them get back on their feet, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. Business operators may need to take a more personalized approach to hiring this year, looking at flexible hours, remote options, and higher wages.
With consumers using mobile devices more than ever before, email marketing should be optimized for mobile devices. Small business operators who send emails that are not mobile optimized risk email deletion and even unsubscribe requests, according to Email Marketing Secrets. Keep the content and layout simple and it may ultimately help open rates.
Small business owners and advertisers are turning their cameras vertical as more consumers engage with Instagram story videos, according to Animoto. The eye-catching, vertical-format videos can also be shared on Facebook Stories and Instagram Reels to further boost reach.
With more than 3,000 emojis available, these tiny icons are a great way to bring attention to your email in an otherwise crowded inbox, according to Omnisend. In fact, brands can often benefit from the extra attention and recognition that an emoji brings without even worrying about the email being opened—almost like placing a mini banner ad inside an inbox. A frequently cited 2014 report by Experian found that of marketers using emojis in subject lines, 56% had higher open rates.
People of color are interested in seeing more racial diversity in advertising, according to 2020 data gathered by Morning Consult. Survey results show that 65% of African Americans and 49% of Hispanics would like to see more diverse ads, and 37% of white respondents also stated a preference for more diversity. Business owners who are mindful of diversity in website ads, social posts, and videos could be seen as welcoming to all consumers.
Consumers and retailers were already jumping on the no-touch payment bandwagon before the pandemic, so the past year served to speed up its acceptance and implementation, according to research conducted by the National Retail Federation. Additionally, the SCORE Association reports that businesses are exploring new ways to eliminate paper checks from B2B payment processes.
With e-commerce increasing and more consumers interacting with businesses online, a growing number of companies are investing marketing dollars in social media, according to 2019 research from The Manifest. Less is more when it comes to business posts, with statistics showing that business pages that post more get less engagement overall than those that post less.
The past year saw a 13% increase in female small business owners—one of the largest increases in several years, according to Guidant Financial and the Small Business Trends Alliance. Men still comprise 68% of small business owners. As a combined group, 41% of small business owners are baby boomers, 46% are Gen Xers, and 13% are millennials. Studies have shown that women like supporting women-owned businesses, so female entrepreneurs can benefit from that added marketing.
Starting a small business is not a get-rich-quick scheme. The majority of those who become their own boss make less than the average CEO, and 30.7% never take home a salary, according to research from Fundera. Hiring an accountant, even on a part-time basis, can help track finances and keep a business profitable.
Emails sent out to every subscriber on the list, with no personalization or segmenting for location, industry, etc., can result in deleted emails and unsubscribe requests, according to SuperOffice. A few extra steps in an email program can help small business owners stand out from the competition and increase open rates.
At the beginning of 2021, 56% of American workers reported that they were working from home, with 44% preferring it to stay that way, according to a poll conducted by Gallup. Many large firms have started offering additional remote opportunities, according to Flexjobs, and small businesses may follow suit this year.
When given the opportunity, 83% of consumers say they would rather purchase an item from a local business than a large corporation, with 84% saying they would pay more to support the local business, according to Red Egg Marketing. It’s vital, then, that local businesses market themselves with this in mind, emphasizing the support of the surrounding communities and utilizing local store marketing tactics.
A growing number of businesses are using big data analytics to gain a deeper understanding of their customer. According to the University of San Diego School of Business, the practice takes data from sales records, social media feeds, email stats, and website analytics and breaks it down into a form that helps business owners personalize their marketing to individual customers.
By 2016, more millennials were in the U.S. workforce than any other generation, according to Pew Research. Fortunly reports that studies generally show millennials have a willingness to work for small to medium businesses, which afford them flexibility and responsibility—something to keep in mind when trying to attract this generation.
Staying cognizant of these key statistics and trends may help small business owners adapt to changing markets and keep up with emerging technology to help maximize their profit margins in the coming year.
Liz Barrett Foster
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
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