Look Out for These Small Business Trends in 2022

The past few years have brought quite a few changes in the way we work. While many small businesses faced challenges, this adversity has helped us collectively shift priorities and reimagine our professional lives. Taking this into consideration, here are three major trends for 2022 and how to integrate them into your small business.

1. Flexible work options are a major priority

While the concept of flexible work isn’t new, it’s been amplified this past year. In fact, many of these ideals first became popular with the gig economy, which was a response to The Great Recession. What began in 2008 was amplified these past few years with the Covid-19 pandemic. Individuals and businesses alike are transitioning to remote or flexible work options as a result. 

What this means for your small business:

Embrace contract workers: Gone are the days when you needed an entire in-house team to successfully reach your ideal customer and successfully run your business. Instead, consider hiring quality, sub-contractors to support you year-round or with special projects. 

Offer remote work options: People are strongly prioritizing their personal wellbeing these days, from opting for remote work so they’re able to care for aging parents or utilizing a 4-day workweek to travel more. If you’re able to offer remote or hybrid schedules, you’ll not only attract new employees but likely have a greater retention rate as well. 

Or consider flexible schedules: Some small businesses may not be able to use a work from home model. If that’s the case, find other ways to support your team’s work-life balance. If you’re an auto detailing business that requires an on-site staff, staggering your employees’ 8-hour workdays will allow any parents to take their kids to school. A little goes a long way, so have a chat with your team!                    

2. Digital presence will boost your business

No matter your industry, one essential way to boost your business in 2022 is cultivating an online presence. You don’t have to stay on top of the latest TikTok trends (unless you want to!), but instead, focus on authentic digital communication. 

What this means for your small business:

Expand your services: While nothing replaces face-to-face interactions, you may want to consider supplementing your regular services with some virtual options. If you have a boutique yoga studio, you could add a streaming option to current classes. Once you’ve laid that technical foundation, you’ll be able to reach a wider range of students while honoring your original studio schedule. 

Add e-commerce: Support your brick-and-mortar by adding some online sales to the mix. You can put your entire catalog on your website, or opt to simply feature some bestsellers. For example, if you’re a local candy shop with a small staff, you may want to offer gift baskets online but save the smaller orders for in-house customers, to streamline your workload.

Showcase your work online: The beauty of the digital age is that we’re no longer bound by location. So put your work out there for people to discover! This doesn’t need to be a big time commitment either. Let’s say you make jewelry as a side-hustle. Sharing your products on social media can help shoppers discover you and support your work.

3. Relationships are still key, but consider the generation

The saying, ‘Your network is your net-worth' particularly resonates with current business trends. Whether you’re interested in building customer loyalty at your grocery store, or scaling your barbershop to the next level, cultivating quality relationships—across multiple generations—is the key to business longevity.

What this means for your small business:

Lead with empathy: Quality customer service never goes out of style. No matter who you’re speaking to, approaching each interaction with understanding and sensitivity will support your small business’s reputation and growth long-term. While the customer isn’t always right, taking a moment to put yourself in their shoes will show that you value the relationship. 

Understand generational differences: When it comes to building relationships, knowing how communication styles vary by generation is key. While Gen Z has grown up with the internet and is comfortable with digital communication, older generations grew up with face-to-face interactions and may prefer direct connection. Build trust with all generations by aligning your communication styles and listening to their needs.

Think about your mission: There has been a major trend toward social impact businesses this year, which is only expected to grow into 2022. This is where your personal values can support your professional goals. Perhaps you’re a coffee shop owner that offers fair-trade beans, because you’re passionate about ethical labor. Showcase this mission! Or demonstrate your values by partnering with local nonprofits or programs for a good cause. As the neighborhood pizzeria owner, maybe you support the high school’s upcoming sports fundraiser, with special deals on pizzas. These small steps not only build your community, but showcase your priorities as a business. 

Bonus Trend: Cashless payment options are on the rise

With everything moving online, it’s no surprise that companies of every size are opting for alternate payment options. While we don’t suspect that the future of business is entirely cashless, there is a trend toward using less cash. If you’re self-employed or a freelance contractor, then a trusted invoicing tool will help simplify your workload. Plus, with more people opting toward credit or debit cards for daily transactions, having a trusted card reader to process customers’ payments will keep your business right on track for the new year.

Taylor Lhamon