Back in November of 2021, Forbes hosted an expert panel of business leaders where the Forbes Coaches Council shared 16 trends that will drive small businesses in 2022. Written just as life began to return to some regularity amidst the COVID pandemic, several of these topics pertain to topics like mental health, e-commerce, and digital marketing methods, which all are geared to boosting small business growth. Now that we are halfway through the year, let’s revisit these trends and evaluate how effective each one has been.
1. Emotional Intelligence And Empathy
As the article indicates, empathy and EQ are no longer optional for companies. Research from Catalyst suggests that unempathetic leadership discourages innovation and engagement from within, which stagnates growth. In addition, consumers will shift purchasing habits away from companies that don’t care about their employees or communities. Overall, this is a must-implement trend.
2. Influencer Marketing On Social Media
This one has been around for a long time, but in recent years with the rise of new platforms, small businesses are going viral by utilizing influencer marketing. By having a trusted pubic figure endorsing your brand, especially a micro-influencer, 46% of consumers made a purchase. So yes, influencer marketing is a must, but look for local, relevant micro-influencers to get the job done right.
3. Big Business Systems And Processes
As explained by the author, this talks about small businesses emulating the persona of a larger company. We’re talking about enhanced technology, automated phone answering, and structure. Incorporating these relatively inexpensive elements will skyrocket your reputation and trustworthiness as a serious business. This is a simple must-implement.
4. Expanded Recruiting Efforts
A business is only as good as its employees and culture so take the time to invest in HR resources. Remote work has opened the door to a whole new pool of candidates, but this also means that the job market is saturated with new competitors. This may be good to try, but we don’t recommend focusing all your time and energy on this trend.
5. Family-First Workplace Values
Allowing your people to put their families first simply increases productivity. While the old-school mindset of coming into work for 9+ hours in a suit and tie still runs within small business leadership, this is no longer the case. Giving employees flexibility and freedom to take care of themselves and loved one’s increases productivity.
6. Networking With Business Owners
Noted as the most significant trends of 2022, in-person and virtual networking is the best way to grow your business. However, we think this trend is only successful if you find the right groups and, more importantly, have the time and resources to do so. This one requires much trial and error, so be smart about implementing this!
7. The Efficiency Of Digital Marketing
In the digital age, marketing practices like SEO and PPC simply can’t be ignored! Improving your web presence and building your professional reputation online is vital. It is universally agreed that digital marketing is essential to growing your business strategically, so implement this today!
8. Digital And Cloud Technologies
According to this section, keeping a digital presence is imperative, which we agree on, but lists staying up to date with customers on slack and teams is a must. We aren’t sure how applicable that is, but yes, stay present on social platforms!
9. Agile Service Delivery And Product Development
Stay ahead of the market by forecasting new products and ways to serve your customers. This is a pretty basic, straightforward trend that every small business should already be doing.
10. Coaching And Mentoring Of Employees
Fostering employee growth is excellent, but only when interested employees express it. Forcing programs onto the team can result in backlash, so keeping things optional and available is essential.
11. Synchronous And Asynchronous Video
Also known as live-streamed and pre-recorded video, these forms of media help boost small businesses, as proven by overnight successes on TikTok and Instagram. We find asynchronous marketing plans to be more effective, especially when there is a dedicated employee for content creation (social media isn’t as easy as you think!) Get creative and find ways to interact on social platforms.
12. Hybrid Workplaces
We’re sure everyone is sick of talking about hybrid workspace options, but the proof is right here: flexible work-from-home options reduce burnout and increase productivity by 77%. So if your business structure can accommodate hybrid work options, we recommend it!
13. Mental Health In The Workplace
Obviously, there has been a mental health crisis in corporate America since the rise of the pandemic. Anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses affect employees’ personal and professional lives as well as workplace productivity, so, of course, this should be a focus by employers, if not out of genuine care, for selfish reasons. However, reducing employee stress improves every aspect of the business.
14. Strategic Inventory Management
Currently, the US economy is experiencing pains in resource availability and soaring gas prices, causing material shortages across all small businesses. By refining logistical processes, you can optimize inventory management to ease these pains and not affect your capacity for supplying the demand. So start focusing on this for increased ROI and decreased costs.
15. Maximum Utilization Of Google
Google is the most used search engine in the world, so if you aren’t capitalizing on their services, get on it! Tying back to digital marketing, good SEO practices, and PPC campaigns will help your Google organic rankings and paid advertising produce quality lead generation. This should be a “must-implement.”
16. Personal Branding
Customer loyalty stems from knowing exactly who is behind a business. Being authentic and putting a name and face to a business goes much further than previously thought. Consumers react positively when associating a business owner with their company. This is a must-implement- especially in 2022, when small businesses rely on marketing themselves.