2021 Market Trends: How to Help Today’s Small Businesses Succeed

Hilton Smith, a 60-year-old business owner, was a staple in his local community. His store of 100 years had passed 6 generations of owners. The business had seen good times and bad times. While his youngest son (a business degree) tried to help his dad adjust to the changing landscape, Hilton rejected these ideas, including having a website and developing a social media presence. Hilton barked at the idea of interacting with his customers virtually instead of in-person. Covid-19 hit the community. Lockdowns occupied. Hilton put a sign on his front door: “CLOSED INDEFINITELY!”

Bringing in a New Year creates a sense of renewal and opportunities. Yet, many small businesses have a ‘wait and see’ attitude riddled by uncertainty and unpredictability of 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 seven critical trends that small businesses should consider in the economy to better manage market disruption in their organization.

With the uncertainty of a new presidential administration in the United States and the lingering impacts of Covid, many organizations should rethink their business strategies. Small businesses are no exception.  According to a business study conducted between March 28 and April 4, 2020, small businesses have been heavily damaged by the lockdowns due to Covid-19.  In an analysis of more than 5,800 small businesses (reaching a network of 4.6 million small businesses), the research highlighted the damage caused by the pandemic. At this juncture, 43% of businesses had temporarily closed, and nearly all of these closures were due to COVID-19. Respondents stated that they had temporarily closed, largely pointed to reductions in demand and employee health concerns as the reasons for closure. In fact, the businesses, on average, reported having reduced their active employment by 39% since January. All industries have been impacted.  

Why evaluate emerging trends as a small business? Many larger companies can withstand the destructive nature of disruption in the marketplace. However, small businesses are more vulnerable. While incremental change is often slow and predictable, disruptive change can be characterized as rapid and unpredictable. These traits of disruption bring uncertainty into the marketplace. Managers worry. With market disruption, experience can be seen as a liability. McKinsey expert defines market disruption as “a profound change in the business landscape that forces organizations to undergo significant transformation rather than steady incremental changes.” Historical examples can be found in transportation (i.e., horse carriage to the automobile) to communications (i.e., telegraph to the Internet). Furthermore, the fact that nearly 9 of every 10 Fortune 500 companies in 1955 are gone today demonstrates the significance of market disruption. Yet, savvy businesses can take advantage of disruption if they understand the principles. Dr. Clayton Christenson, the author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, argues the opportunity brought by disruption: “Disruptive technologies typically enable new markets to emerge.

Looking ahead to 2021, there are seven trends that small businesses should consider. Yet, nearly a year after this pandemic, the full impacts on the U.S. economy are not fully clear. Small businesses should review the following trends to capture new, unmet customer needs in the future:

  • Global Market – We are connected! Small businesses can tap into resources worldwide, whether searching for new customers in emerging markets or locating talent for hire. According to the Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, individual employment will accelerate due to globalization.
  • AI and Automation – Artificial intelligence is a disruptive technology. Companies can avoid the high expense of labor through automation. According to a 2013 Oxford University study, nearly half of American jobs are at risk of being taken over by computers by 2033. Small businesses can leverage technology by empowering their employees to utilize AI where appropriate so that that technology is not viewed as a negative.
  • New Work Model – 2020 brought in the explosion of working from home due to Covid-19.  Employees already wanted to have more flexibility in life. They got it from employers. Companies responded by offering 70% of full-time workers the ability to work from home!
  • Freelancing – Freelancing is part of the gig economy. It goes much further than Airbnb and Uber. In the gig economy, businesses hire independent contractors to perform individual jobs, called “gigs.” The total freelancing income is almost $1 trillion. With the gig economy, small businesses can find the necessary talent without the burden of full-time employees.
  • Digital & Ecommerce – Covid-19 ushered the digital economy.  If companies did not have a digital platform in 2020 with the lockdowns, they did not exist.  According to the Internet World Stats, there are currently 4,208,571, 287 internet users. Small businesses cannot afford to miss this continuing trend of digital platforms.
  • Changing Career Landscape – Due to market disruption, the employers’ needs continue to evolve, especially driven by automation and technology trends. Employers cannot afford to utilize unmotivated employees. They want self-starters. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has identified eight competencies associated with career readiness. Sadly, most students are not aware of employers’ expectations of career readiness competencies. With that said, small businesses will need to keep up with the changing workforce in the United States.
  • Continuous Learning – Keeping up with the latest trends and disruption requires a learning culture in organizations. Therefore, a trained employee pool is essential, especially during disruptions. With the numerous non-traditional learning platforms like Udemy and MOOC, individuals can stay up to date and advance their skills. Small businesses should be embracing this trend.

Today’s small businesses and entrepreneurs must retool themselves, given the potential impacts of Covid-19 have the necessary capacity to change their way of thinking because of their passion. Disruption will be the word of 2021 as organizations consider the impacts of Covid-19 in 2020. This article discussed the seven critical trends that small businesses should consider in the economy to better manage market disruption in their organization. While larger organizations may survive the impacts of market disruptions, most small businesses cannot. By taking the necessary steps to understand these market trends and maximize capturing unmet needs in the market, small businesses can make a positive investment in their future. Let’s pray that it is not too late.

© 2021 by D. D. Green

About Dr. Daryl Green:

Dr. Daryl Green provides consulting, guidance, and management training for today’s small businesses. He is the Dickinson Chair at Oklahoma Baptist University. He and his students have assisted more than 100 small businesses in the region with marketing and management expertise. If you would like more information about this article or business assistance, please contact Dr. Green at drdarylgreen@gmail.com or visit http://www.drdarylgreen.com.


“The Impact of COVID-19 on Small Business Outcomes and Expectations” by Alexander W. Bartik, Marianne Bertrand, Zoe Cullen, Edward L. Glaeser, Michael Luca, and Christopher Stanton

“What is Market Disruption?” by Becky Kelderman

Hoping to Save Businesses During COVID-19, OBU MBA Offers Marketing Assistance Across the US

Being a college poised to help businesses grow and offer marketing assistance to business owners around the globe, The Paul Dickinson College of Business of OBU has made available novel marketing assistance to business organizations. Dr. Daryl D. Green, along with his MBA students, made this happen through research and class assignments. This has been successfully done even when COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on many businesses and affects their revenue. Dr Green and his current crop of OBU MBA students are providing marketing consultation to 16 organizations across the United States this semester despite the Covid-19 impact.

Therefore, at Oklahoma Baptist University, Dr. Green, DSL, Business Professor, has used his class assignments to build a cadre of graduate and undergraduate students that can offer marketing assistance across the globe.

“Our MBA students have managed to take theories from the classroom to assist organizations with their marketing problems. This is because OBU believes theories must be practiced and concretized if we are going to have reasonable achievements, help businesses, mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on businesses and achieve the essence of education, which is to help their society,” said Dr Green.

However, it is a fact that the MBA students under the tutelage of Dr Green have done the research and this action to help businesses in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic and their own personal challenges. As Paul Dickinson College of Business of OBU is duly established to always give students tools that they can use today, not just tomorrow, Dr Green and his MBA weren’t discouraged with Coronavirus pandemic outbreak but instead continued to research through class assignments, peer-review and other academic activities to help the MBA students turn theories into reality and help businesses across the globe.

Dr. Green, professor of this group of MBA students, used a class project to help local communities struggling during Covid-19. Having done professional engineering management, he knows the value of practical experience for his graduate students. In 2016, Dr. Green retired from the Department of Energy, where he worked as a senior engineer for over 27 years.

Below is a highlight of the Paul Dickinson College of Business MBA students and their supervisor who contributed to the assignment:


 Caption: Devan Costa-Cargill provided marketing assistance to Swirling Arrow Pack and Harness Waterford, California.

Devan Costa-Cargill, who is an OBU MBA Student, provided marketing assistance to Swirling Arrow Pack and Harness Waterford, California. She is an entrepreneur and teacher. After obtaining her Bachelor in Sociology from University California Santa Cruz, Devan entered the public-school system, specifically Special Education.


Caption: Nick Hostetter provided marketing assistance to The Barn Athletics in Choctaw, Oklahoma.

MBA Student Nick Hostetter provided marketing assistance to The Barn Athletics in Choctaw, Oklahoma. Hostetter is the Customer Service Manager for APMEX Inc. and has been with this organization since 2017. From 2016 to 2017, he was an Operations Supervisor for AB InBev. He was a Logistics Supervisor for corporate Love’s from 2013 to 2016 where the team he oversaw was responsible for over one billion dollars in fuel deliveries per year.


 Caption: MBA Student Jocelyn Martinez used her marketing skills outside of the US with The Nouva Agency in Monterrey, N.L, Mexico.

MBA Student Jocelyn Martinez used her marketing skills outside of the US with The Nouva Agency in Monterrey, N.L, Mexico. Martinez is from Mexico. Currently, she is a Senior Student-Athlete at Oklahoma Baptist University, pursuing a BBA in Management and Marketing with a passion for Digital Marketing Analytics.


Caption: MBA Student Jason Proctor provided local marketing assistance to Wallace Avenue Baptist Church in Shawnee, Oklahoma.

MBA Student Jason Proctor provided local marketing assistance to Wallace Avenue Baptist Church in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Proctor is the Head Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU). He is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Caption: Dr. Daryl D. Green, DSL, Business Professor, has used his class assignments to build a cadre of graduate and undergraduate students who can offer marketing assistance across the globe.

For more information about this story, please contact Dr. Green at daryl.green@okbu.edu or 405-585-4414.

About Paul Dickinson College of Business

The Paul Dickinson College of Business is part of Oklahoma Baptist University. This qualified and Christian-based education is addressed to those who want to pursue a bachelor degree in business. The university provides the skills needed by the business graduates in contemporary professional careers as a leader. The business degree programs of the Oklahoma Baptist University are accredited and acknowledged by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

For more information on the Paul Dickinson College of Business at OBU, visit www.okbu.edu/business.

Providing Good Customer Service

If America is going to survive this economic crisis, businesses will need to change what they are doing. Behind this backdrop is a lack of understanding of a holistic approach in providing good customer service. Companies should not believe that they can provide good customer service while treating their employees badly. Bad treatment of employees will eventually show up in unpredictable ways.  

I’ve spent some time studying customer service as a practitioner and scholar. In fact, one of my star MBA students, Jalene Nemec Davis, and I co-authored book Good Customer Service: The Definitive Handbook for Today’s Successful Businesses.  United States companies are finding it harder to compete abroad. Is there any wonder why some individuals want to give up? This article examines how to create an amazing customer service for sustainable success. What follows will help you revamp your organization and, hence, the focus of your business’ customer service.

Defining good customer service is an essence. Before you can decide what good customer service is, you must first think about what it means to your company or your industry. Defining what good customer service is for any one company is difficult. A hospital’s idea of good customer service will differ from that of a restaurant. To help you determine how it is defined for your company, look first to your mission statement.

Every little detail counts for good customer service.  Paul B. Thornton, a Massachusetts-based business consultant and author of Leadership-Best Advice I Ever Got, suggests, “Customer service should, if written well, state what is most important to your company and why it exists. It should focus on the organization and keep everyone going in the same direction to achieve the same goal.” After all, when it comes to customer service, no matter the industry, isn’t it getting everyone to work as a team believing in the same mission? The mission being to service their customers to the best of their ability, regardless of whom they might be (shareholders, consumers, suppliers, co-workers, etc.). Look again at your company’s mission statement; does it include providing good service to your customers?

Build an organization that is built to serve the needs of the customers and be prepared to see better results. In fact, the business must determine what kind of customer service you and your company want to provide. Businesses should ‘WOW’ their customers. Organizations should create memorable moments for their buyers. Here’s a test. Take out a piece of paper and jot down what first comes to mind. Review your list. Are the items listed those that your customers truly value? If not, that is okay. In business operations, sometimes it is difficult to separate what the company wants versus what the customer wants because most companies only want to see the bottom line.

In fact, review some businesses that are very successful in the realm of customer service and see where they place customer service as part of who they are as an organization. For example, Let’s review Southwest Airlines, one of the most reputable airline companies. This airline states, “Southwest Airlines is a company that is for anyone and everyone that wants to get from point A to point B by flying. Our service and philosophy are to fly safe, with high frequency, low-cost flights that can get passengers to their destinations on time and often closer to their destination. We fly in 58 cities and 30 states and are the world’s largest short-haul carrier, and we make sure that it is run efficiently and in an economical way.”  

With enormous competition for customers, can you afford not to provide good customer service? Does your mission state measure up to the needs of your intended customers? This article demonstrated how to create an amazing customer service for sustainable success. In the end, customers are individuals who determine good customer service. Therefore, businesses should think from the mindset of the buyer, not the seller. Even if you cannot see room for improvement off-hand, what I have to say may strike up some ideas that will prove beneficial to you and your company. I pray that it is not too late.

Please share your insight on this topic.

 

© 2019 by Daryl D. Green

About Dr. Daryl Green:

Dr. Daryl D. Green is the Dickinson Chair of Business professor at OBU’s Paul Dickinson College of Business, teaching leadership, management, and marketing. In 2016, Dr. Green retired from the DOE, where he worked in the Environmental Management Program for over 27 years. He is the author of Amazon.com Hit Job Strategies for the 21st Century: How to Assist Today’s College Students during Economic Turbulence. For more information, please visit http://www.darylgreen.org.

Gaining More Job Opportunities With LinkedIn.com

Today’s job seekers face a landscape of great opportunities as employers look due to growing competition and limited job openings. In fact, college graduates are under tremendous pressure to land a high-paying job to cover their college debt. In recruiting young engineers and scientists at the Department of Energy, I soon discussed a major disconnect between what employers desired from potential employees (i.e., college students) and what today’s job seekers expect of employers. According to a Glassdoor.com survey, each corporate job on average attracts over 250 job applicants. Of those individuals applying, four to six will be called for an interview. However, one person will get a job offer. With that said, individuals need to implement the right job strategies to be successful. This article examines how LinkedIn.com can help you build your professional brand for greater job opportunities.

Are you ready for the competition for your ideal job? According to Business2community.com, 427,000 resumes are posted each week on Monster.com, an online job board; 8 million job applicants said they found their job on Twitter.com. Having an online presence is vital for today’s employment opportunities. LinkedIn is the perfect digital footprint for working professionals. Being the world’s largest online professional network, LinkedIn.com has more than 467 million members in over 200 countries and territories. Professionals are signing up on LinkedIn.com at a rate of more than two new members per second. In fact, 89% of employment recruiters have hired through LinkedIn.com. College students may flock to popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, LinkedIn is the website that makes them credible to future employers while building their own personal brand.  

Getting started on LinkedIn is easy. Connecting with the right person can increase career networking opportunities with the basic “Six Degrees of Separation” principle. In 1929, Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy coined the term ‘six degrees of separation.’ According to Whatis.techtarget.com, six degrees of separation is the theory that “any person on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries.” When a person is established on LinkedIn, the individuals can see how their connections are linked to other influential people. To get the most attention on LinkedIn, individuals need to achieve the “All-Star” status. Some of the requirements include a completed LinkedIn profile, including a professional photo and summary. Below are steps to build an effective LinkedIn Profile:

  1. Submit a professional photo.
  2. Create a catchy headline aimed at potential employers.
  3. Write an incredible summary statement.
  4. Select a unique LinkedIn URL for your profile.
  5. Obtain recommendations from professors, employers, coaches, and other influencers who can speak to your character and leadership abilities.
  6. Post relevant articles on your LinkedIn profile (i.e., LinkedIn Pulse) that demonstrate your critical thinking and writing style.
  7. List appropriate work and volunteer experiences.
  8. Upload presentations and written documents that showcase your professional abilities.
  9. Follow businesses and organizations that are potential employers or contacts.
  10. Join LinkedIn Groups that add to your professional network.

With fierce competition for jobs, job seekers need to present a great image to future employers. LinkedIn provides an excellent gateway to more employment opportunities online. This article demonstrated that LinkedIn.com can help you build your professional brand for greater job opportunities. Unlike traditional social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn allows individuals to establish professional networks, obtain needed resources, and foster a professional relationship with prospective employers, clients, and partners. Creating an effective LinkedIn Profile can garnish great career and professional networking opportunities.

Please share your insight on this topic.

© 2019 by Daryl D. Green

About Dr. Daryl Green:

Dr. Daryl D. Green is the Dickinson Chair of Business professor at OBU’s Paul Dickinson College of Business, teaching leadership, management, and marketing. In 2016, Dr. Green retired from the DOE, where he worked in the Environmental Management Program for over 27 years. He is the author of Amazon.com Hit Job Strategies for the 21st Century: How to Assist Today’s College Students during Economic Turbulence. For more information, please visit http://www.darylgreen.org.