If you’ve put aspects of your business on hold until things got a bit more normal (whatever that means), it might be time for a strategic review.
The past two years have tested entrepreneurs everywhere, forcing them to throw out the pre-pandemic playbook and experiment with new ways of doing business.
So what comes next?
Despite the unknowns, one thing is clear: adapting to a new business and economic climate will take a resilient business strategy that puts customers first. Here are some business trends to keep in mind for 2022.
Keep pandemic adjustments that work
The impact of COVID-19 is still shaping our lives. Roughly 60 percent of consumers in the U.S. and UK say the pandemic has changed the way they shop. And while COVID-19 has been challenging for small businesses around the world, there are still key lessons to be learned—if you’ve been paying attention.
Convenience is king
As the outlines of a new normal are coming into focus, consumers have responded positively to businesses offering convenience as a feature. Adding accommodations like flexible cancellation policies, contactless payment, or scheduled delivery to your business strategy is a smart way to build customer loyalty in 2022.
Make safety a priority
When businesses pivoted to remote solutions like telehealth and ecommerce, they discovered a new way to help their customers feel safe and protected. Even if you decide to bring in-person services back in 2022, keeping a remote option available for those who prefer it makes good business sense.
Prepare for shortages
Even as small businesses overcome the immediate problems of COVID-19, the disruptive effects of the pandemic are set to linger into 2022, creating new and unprecedented challenges for entrepreneurs.
Plan for the Great Resignation
In September 2021, three percent of the entire American workforce left their jobs for greener pastures. As finding and retaining staff becomes more difficult across many industries, entrepreneurs need to prepare for potential labor shortages in 2022.
Preventing these shortages in the first place starts by talking to your existing employees to see what you can do to improve retention. Your employees won’t be the only ones thanking you—about 40 percent of U.S. consumers say a company’s labor practices influence their purchasing decisions.
Expect supply chain issues
Fast shipping is no longer a guarantee and manufacturing and shipping delays will force businesses to adapt in 2022. To manage this change, businesses need to be transparent with their customers about supply chain delays—and ramp up customer service efforts to compensate.
Make sustainability improvements
After a year of record-breaking heat waves, flash flooding, and other climate emergencies, more and more consumers are waking up to the fact that what they choose to buy has an impact on the world. Approximately 70 percent of people surveyed by the Boston Consulting Group say that they’re more aware of climate threats since the pandemic began, with 40 percent committed to adopting sustainable habits in the future.
Green business trends aren’t going away any time soon, with two-thirds of global consumers willing to pay more for sustainable goods that align with their personal values.
If that sounds like something you’re interested in, start by taking a look at the areas of your own business to see where you can make planet-friendly improvements. Think: switching to compostable packaging, choosing sustainable suppliers and service providers, or giving a portion of sales to environmental non-profits. Earning a socially responsible third-party certification like the B Corp Certification can also show your customers that you practice what you preach.
In the past, it was easier for unscrupulous businesses to get away with false or exaggerated claims about their environmental impact. Labels like ‘natural’, ‘organic’, and ‘eco-friendly’ were used to attract environmentally-conscious consumers, even if the reality didn’t live up to the claim.
Today, people are increasingly aware of greenwashing marketing efforts. If you plan to position your company as sustainable, make sure you can back it up with receipts. Otherwise, you may end up doing more harm than good to your reputation.
How Bench can help
Once you have a business strategy to steer you through the uncertainty, it’s important to keep a pulse on the state of your business. Keeping track of weekly and monthly sales figures can tell you what aspects of your new strategy are working, and what may need refined. Plus, having organized and accurate financials from the start of the year saves you time and stress down the road—so you can stay focused on the tasks that grow your business.
Bench gives you a team of bookkeepers to organize your finances for you. Our easy-to-use software allows you to easily check in on your financials throughout the year. Bench’s intuitive dashboard brings all of your bank account and credit card transactions into one place. And with real-time reporting, you’ll always know where your business stands and can validate your business strategy as it happens.
Try Bench for free and see what getting a handle on your finances feels like.