The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges, particularly for small business owners who have struggled with lockdowns, labor shortages, new health and safety protocols, and more.
Unfortunately, many of the issues that seemed temporary have proven to be long-lasting. But small businesses are resilient, and many have adapted or pivoted when faced with the challenges of the past two years.
But what will 2022 bring? As you plan for the year ahead, keep the following trends and challenges in mind.
Supply chain and inventory
Supply chain disruption looks set to continue, at least for the first half of 2022. As such, many businesses are bringing their purchasing plans forward, ordering supplies and inventory much earlier than before. It’s also a good idea to diversify your business’ vendor portfolio so that you have more options to source goods and materials. Because of fluctuations in demand, consider keeping less inventory on hand during this unpredictable time.
Talent and workforce
If you hired new employees in 2021, it’s time to start thinking about how you will retain those workers in 2022. If you lost employees, what changes can be made to attract new hires? In a tight labor market, workers are increasingly demanding flexible hours, work-from-home options, better benefits, perks, learning and development, changes in how productivity is measured, and a diverse workplace culture.
New consumer channels
The pandemic has accelerated digitization, with many small businesses taking action to reach consumers via digital channels, such as mobile apps, online ordering, contactless payment options, and social media. Expect this trend to continue as consumers continue to expect seamless and convenient interaction with the companies they do business with.
Rising costs impact all parts of the economy, but small businesses (particularly those who operate on slim margins) are feeling the pinch. According to the QuickBooks Small Business Insights Report, 97% of small business owners are worried about inflation and say rising costs are the most significant threat their business faces. In response, 63% plan to raise prices in the next three months.
The pandemic quickly dispelled myths that working from home would lead to decreased employee productivity. Indeed, many employers were surprised at how well their employees performed remotely.
Even as work-from-home orders come to an end, the hybrid workplace trend looks set to continue as employers seek to attract and retain top talent, particularly those who care for children or elderly relatives.
Technology is what separates the leaders from the laggers. Successful small businesses will continue to explore and invest in new technologies that streamline workflows, eliminate manual and time-consuming processes, and allow employees to focus on high-value tasks.
Cybersecurity and data protection
As small businesses digitize their operations and handle more employee and consumer data online, they have become a lucrative target for cybercriminals who seek to steal that data or scam businesses through ransomware. If your business is targeted, it faces not only financial loss, but downtime and reputational consequences. Review your cybersecurity plan, make sure you are applying the latest software updates and fixes, and invest in security solutions that ensure your most sensitive data is backed up and protected.
Learn more from BizFilings