One of the things in business that never changes is competition keeps evolving. The pandemic has brought a new set of challenges to organizations in how they interact with employees and customers. Selling products and services while practicing social distancing will depend more on home jobs, along with other small business challenges 2021 will bring.
1. Remote Work and Small Business Challenges 2021
Over 40 percent of the American workforce was working at home by mid-2020. This trend will continue throughout the pandemic and beyond, as companies are quickly learning the benefits of letting employees work from home on their computers. Not only are work at home jobs ideal for social distancing, but they also cut costs on technology.
It's essential for a company with a small business structure to spend its budget cautiously during periods of economic uncertainty. One of the major challenges with remote work, especially for small businesses, is to use updated robust cybersecurity on all devices. Workers must also be trained on how to spot suspicious activity on their home office networks since many businesses are targets of cybercriminals looking to exploit confidential data.
Remote workers further face the challenge of staying focused on work activity at home, where there may be various distractions from babies crying to TV in the background and the phone ringing periodically. Working at home requires a sharp focus and the ability to block out irrelevant noise.
Due to the rise in remote work, companies will need to reassess physical office space. With fewer employees and computers occupying space, companies can utilize the space for storage or simply relocate to a smaller office. Some companies won't need physical offices at all except for a central headquarters.
2. Money Will Get More Digital
Another significant transformation ahead from the list of small business challenges in 2021 will be going cashless. Business leaders throughout the United States are steadily adopting various methods to facilitate digital transactions, particularly through e-commerce software. Within the next decade, very few businesses will still accept cash payments, because digital currency is here to stay.
Some companies will venture deeper into blockchain due to its robust cybersecurity qualities. Those that don't invest in stronger security layers are vulnerable to cybercriminals that seek confidential financial information. Some of the keys to meeting this challenge for greater data protection will be:
- Segmented virtualized servers
- Multifactor authentication
- Training employees about cybersecurity
- 24/7 network monitoring software
Organizations must be compliant in protecting the private information of customers and employees. So they must set strict policies with team members on how company data is accessed and how it can be used. Partitioning mobile devices and avoiding public Wi-Fi will likely become common so that financial data does not end up in the wrong hands.
3. Providing E-commerce and a Storefront Will Be Crucial
During the pandemic, business survival will depend on a company's ability to handle online transactions and maintain a professional online storefront. That means you either need to be or hire a digital marketer. Many small business owners simply don't have the time to take care of all the tasks required for successful digital marketing so they outsource to specialists.
There are various ways to construct an online storefront with an e-commerce solution. One way is to use popular existing cloud platforms that give you the tools and templates to organize your store. A more expensive but potentially more secure method is to hire your own software developer to create a proprietary platform customized for your company.
One of the key challenges for websites selling orders online is that they offer multiple payment methods. Only accepting certain credit cards can limit the market. The checkout process should also be smooth without speed bumps that cause the consumer to rethink making the purchase.
4. All Business Websites Must Become Mobile-Friendly
These days mobile users are more than ever the most likely ready-to-buy shoppers. Mobile users know the difference between a site only designed for desktops and one that's mobile-responsive. It's now important for all businesses to adopt mobile-friendly practices for their websites, to appeal to the widest possible audience.
An easy prediction for the new year will be that mobile-first becomes the standard across websites doing business online. The best way to reach the common consumer these days is through a smartphone. In other words, web presentation should be geared toward small screens so that text is easy to read.
Another reason to adopt a mobile-first approach, even beyond your website, is to facilitate job applicants who commonly apply through their smartphones. The best way to accommodate communications is with mobile users in mind. Texting is becoming more relevant to connect with coworkers, while email is largely an effective way for digital marketers to communicate with consumers.
5. Sustainability is a Growing Business Theme
One of the most socially responsible business trends during the pandemic is the growing concern among stakeholders, managers, and employees about sustainability. Companies realize large players must work together in creating a safer and more efficient work environment, as work from home jobs are part of the solution. Sustainability encompasses health and eco-friendly concerns, as well as reducing or eliminating waste.
The pandemic has affected supply chains for various industries, sometimes resulting in short-term shortages. A business can withstand this difficulty by developing a list of backup suppliers in the event the main suppliers run low on materials. Businesses should also evaluate each supplier to ensure they are the most reliable and efficient choice.
As budgets tighten throughout the pandemic, sustainability will grow in importance for both financial and environmental reasons. In many ways, the term "sustainability" is becoming synonymous with business survival. Part of it involves looking forward and planning for the worst possible disaster.
Not only are manufacturers concerned about sustainability, so are consumers. A recent survey by Boston Consulting Group and Dynata revealed that 87% of respondents think companies should factor environmental concerns into products. An enterprise that publishes its efforts in helping the environment and going more green in 2021 can improve its public image in demonstrating social responsibility.
The above five dynamics reflect the biggest challenges facing small businesses in the new year. Staying up-to-date with business technology is certainly an integral piece of the puzzle. Contact E-Marketing Associates to learn more about listing builder software and other online marketing products to help your business grow.