Farewell to the 2020 and 2021 years! If you think 2022 will get us back to normal, I bring you bad news. I’m sorry to tell you that you are in error! Today’s small businesses must take a ‘wait and see’ attitude for 2022, because it is riddled with uncertainty and unpredictability about the future. Most organizations have limited resources and must be cautious about their business growth. However, if small businesses were given a master list of areas to improve, based on market forces, these companies would be in a better position for the upcoming year. This article examines the eight critical market trends in this economy that small businesses should consider to better manage market disruption in their organization.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room…THE PANDEMIC! With the uncertainty across the globe including the lingering impacts of COVID, many organizations must rethink their business strategies. Over a year into the pandemic, its full impact on the U.S. economy is still not fully clear. Small businesses are no exception to the need to restrategize. According to a recent study, small businesses have been heavily damaged by the COVID-linked lockdowns of the past two years. The study reported that 43% of small businesses had temporarily closed, and nearly all of these closures were due to COVID. Why should small businesses evaluate emerging trends? Because they are more vulnerable than larger companies to the destructive nature of disruptions in the marketplace. Looking ahead to 2022, there are seven additional trends that small businesses must take into account. You’ll note that almost all of these are directly related to the impact of the pandemic.
- Workers Search for Purposeful Living. The Great Resignation isn’t over. Employees are still quitting their jobs as they search for a more purposeful life. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of more than 3.9 million workers quit their jobs each month in 2021, the highest average on record, topping the 2019 monthly average of 3.5 million.
- AI and Automation – Artificial intelligence is a disruptive technology. Companies can avoid the high expense of labor through automation. With the rise of automation and new technologies driven by the pandemic, individuals with digital skills will have a competitive advantage. Small businesses can leverage these technology advances by empowering their employees to utilize AI where appropriate, so that that technology is not viewed as a negative.
- Digitalization of Data – COVID ushered in the digital economy. If companies did not have a digital platform prior to and during the 2020 lockdowns, they suffered greatly and many closed up shop. Understanding how to collect and analyze critical data is a competitive advantage. According to a MicroStrategy analysis, 60% of companies around the world use data and analytics to drive process and cost-efficiency. Industries in the financial and health care sectors are already leveraging the power of data analysis. For example, Data Pine reports that 94% of U.S. hospitals have adopted Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to support the digital transformation of health data.
- The Future of Work – 2020 brought a COVID-induced explosion of working from home. Employees already wanted to have more flexibility in their work lives. Companies responded by offering 70% of full-time workers the ability to work from home!
- Supply Chain and Logistics– With the pandemic, there has been a global disruption in the supply of goods and services. According to a 2021 White House analysis, businesses were stuck with billions of dollars in unsold goods when the pandemic hit. Although the economy has mostly recovered and demand has increased, businesses have not been able to bring inventories fully back to pre-pandemic levels, causing a decline in inventory-to-sales ratios. Smart small business owners will need to be savvy about supply chain strategies in order to survive.
- Freelancing – Freelancing is part of the gig economy. It goes much further than Airbnb and Uber, but they are prime examples. In the gig economy, businesses hire independent contractors to perform individual jobs, called “gigs.” The total income from freelancing is estimated to be almost $1 trillion. With the gig economy, small businesses can find the necessary talent without taking on the cost burdens of filling jobs with full-time employees.
- Digital and Ecommerce –According to the Internet World Stats, there are currently more than 4.2 billion internet users. Small businesses cannot afford to miss the vast potential of catering to this almost universal customer base. The survival of small business now depends on its ability to join the continuing trend of marketing via digital platforms.
- Continuous Learning – Keeping up with the latest trends and disruptions requires a learning culture within all organizations. Therefore, a trained employee pool is essential, especially in combatting disruptions. Small businesses need to embrace this trend toward continuous learning for all its employees and for all aspects of its business.
In summary, disruptive forces continue to reshape the global economy. If you are not actively monitoring trends, your company will be at a disadvantage in the market. Today’s small businesses and entrepreneurs must retool their thinking, given the potential impacts of COVID. They must apply their passion for the success of their business to developing the capacity to change outdated ways of thinking. Disruptions will continue in 2022 and beyond.
This article discussed the eight critical trends in the current economy that small businesses should consider to better manage market disruptions. While larger organizations may be able to survive the impacts of market disruptions, most small businesses cannot. By taking the necessary steps to understand these emerging market trends and to maximize the capture of unmet needs in the market, small businesses can make a positive investment in their future. Let’s pray that it is not too late.
© 2022 by D. D. Green
About Dr. Daryl Green:
Dr. Daryl D. Green is a business strategist, awarding speaker, and noted author. He is the Vice President of Marketing at AGSM Consulting LLC where he provides strategic planning, marketing, and product development to emerging and existing businesses. He provides consulting, guidance, and management training for today’s small businesses. He is a business professor operating a small business in Oklahoma. He has assisted over 100 organizations across the globe with marketing and management problems. If you would like more information about this article or business assistance, please contact Dr. Green at email@example.com or visit http://www.drdarylgreen.com.