COVID-19 made 2020 and 2021 challenging years for small businesses. Social distancing measures and lockdowns were put in place to mitigate the spread of the infection. However, it caused many businesses to lose sales, lay off staff and permanently shut down their operations.
As 2021 comes to a close, small businesses are slowly recovering from the effects of the pandemic. As life starts to regain a new sense of normalcy, new small business trends are emerging. Understanding these trends can help startup or small business owners get back on track.
In a post-pandemic business world, knowing the movements and changes that drive business in the new normal will help you succeed. Growth-minded small business owners who readily embrace new technology will greatly benefit from more efficient operations, increased revenue, faster growth and reduced expenses.
Staying Ahead of the Curve is More Important Than Ever
If there was a year that pushed small businesses to adapt, 2020 was that year.
Businesses and organizations across the country had no choice but to decentralize, implement remote work setups and determine the best ways to serve their clients in the middle of rapidly shifting health regulations and operating conditions. Many owners realized that adopting new technology was the key to keeping up with the changing business climate.
Now that owners, employers and consumers are used to the changes, going back to how things were prior to COVID-19 might not be an option. To help small businesses adapt to the coming changes, here are trends to watch out — and prepare — for in 2022.
Small Business Technology Trends to Watch Out For in 2022
Even before COVID-19 hit, many businesses were realizing the benefits of shifting to remote operations. By nixing their physical offices, they benefit from lower overhead costs while enabling a more desirable work-life balance for their employees. As pandemic-related lockdowns started rolling out across the country, many businesses were forced to decentralize their operations.
Since the world is slowly returning to normal, business owners are now debating whether they should return to in-person operations or keep the remote setup in place. Whatever you decide for your business, adopting remote working technologies is important.
In 2022, it is highly likely that more businesses will rely on cloud-based programs and data storage. Some businesses might consider HR technology as foundational to their operations. This includes investing in software for advertising, hiring, interviewing and onboarding.
Cyberattacks increase the risk for reputational damage and financial losses since these expose personal information. As more business functions move online and into the cloud, cybersecurity becomes more important than ever.
A recent survey from the U.S. Small Business Administration revealed that 88 percent of small business owners felt their businesses were vulnerable to cyber-attacks. However, many businesses have limited time to devote to cybersecurity, can’t afford professional solutions or don’t know where to begin.
Strengthen your small business’s online security by taking these steps:
- Regularly upgrade your software.
- Provide employees with training regarding the recognition of malware, phishing and online scams.
- Invest in end-to-end encryption software for all transactions.
- Implement security processes and protocols for passwords and on-site security.
Artificial Intelligence and Automation
Automation guarantees a host of benefits for small businesses: increased compliance, higher productivity, better financial insight and cost savings. However, small businesses shouldn’t just stop automating manual processes.
Consider looking into and adopting technologies that use artificial intelligence (AI) to eliminate repetitive tasks. Whether you use software that automates data entry and collection or have an AI bot responding the basic queries, AI will continue to have a big presence in small businesses this 2022.
Businesses that integrate AI technologies into their operations will remain ahead of their competitors as these advancements will become more integral in the future. AI and automation will reduce the time employees need to complete their work, which translates to more hours dedicated to driving profit.
Technology-Assisted Client Interactions
With decentralized operations and remote work, the need for technology in assisting clients arises.
Before the pandemic, small businesses relied on person-to-person service models to win more customers. During the pandemic, small businesses had to adapt to less personal interactions and more technology-assisted transactions to remain relevant in an environment where no-contact services are the new norm.
Small businesses must now capitalize on new video communication technologies and host virtual meetings. Fortunately, there are many software applications and software that can make the change easier for your teams. Some apps enable employees to share and record video messages of themselves or their screens and email the final result to their employers or clients.
With the convenience and ease of technology-assisted transactions, your clients will most likely use your services long after the need for contactless services disappears.
2022 is another year for small businesses to recuperate from COVID’s impact. Fortunately, the right technology will make life easier for owners who invest in it.