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4 Small Business Trends for 2021

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2020 was a wild year. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we all do business. Small, local businesses were hit the hardest by statewide restrictions and lockdowns put in place to protect customers and staff.

As we look forward to the new year, we can expect many of these new changes to stick around — but now we have the foresight to handle them. Armed with the experience you have gained in 2020, you can head into 2021 prepared to make improvements and watch your small business begin to recover.

Here are four 2021 small business trends we expect to see continue and develop in the new year

1 Innovation Is Key

In 2020, regulations and restrictions changed from week to week. Businesses were forced to adapt and innovate rapidly to keep up.

Restaurants added curbside pickup options to counteract dining restrictions. Retailers implemented online ordering to promote contactless commerce. Businesses of all kinds found ways to allow their employees to work from the safety of their own homes.

Heading into 2021, the most successful small businesses will be those that stay on their toes and continue to adjust quickly to changing circumstances. Now that you know what to expect from shutdowns, you can start to focus on innovations that will further your business.

2. Community Connections Matter

After seeing local businesses struggling with pandemic restrictions, many consumers have turned their attention to supporting their local economies and small businesses over larger corporations. This trend will likely continue through 2021.

Customers seek human-to-human connections and businesses that care about them, especially in times of uncertainty. Small businesses should pay close attention to establish themselves as part of their local communities and address their customers’ needs.

In the new year, invest in local marketing, get active on social media, collaborate with other local businesses or get involved with virtual events and fundraisers to gain the trust of local customers.

3. E-Commerce Dominates

While we’ve seen gradual technology improvements and increased virtual services for the past several years, the COVID-19 shutdowns have thrust us forward and put e-commerce at the forefront for businesses of all sizes. IBM research estimates that the events of 2020 sped up the transition to digital shopping by nearly five years. Having an online presence for your business is no longer just a recommendation — it’s a necessity.

Consumers are looking for ways to stay home and stay out of stores, but they still want to access all the products and services they need. This year, look to develop your online presence with virtual options to replace any services you would provide in your physical business.

4. Remote Work Is Here to Stay

Remote work has been gaining popularity in recent years, but its progress has been slow up until 2020. Then, beginning in mid-March, businesses had only a few weeks to figure out how their employees could work from home.

A June report from Stanford found that 42% of the U.S. labor force switched to remote work at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the initial transition was a little rocky, businesses and their employees have started to see the many benefits of working from home.

When employees are remote, small businesses can save money by skipping a physical office. Remote work also allows employers to search for the best talent for their team, regardless of location. For these reasons, remote work will most likely stay popular through 2021 and after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

How CAEDC Can Support Your Business This Year

Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) can help your business thrive in 2021. We are a business concierge, connecting you with grants, loans, incentives and resources to help your Cumberland County small business through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

We offer COVID-19 relief grants for businesses impacted by restrictions and regular tourism grants for businesses that help promote tourism in Cumberland Valley.

Start your new year off right by reaching out to CAEDC for help with loans, grants and COVID-19 relief. You can contact us online or give us a call at 717-240-7180.

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