June 20, 2022
By: John Tomblin, Senior Solutions Architect
Phoenix Bizz, a division of Sofvue, LLC
Printed with permission of Sofvue, LLC and the author
The last two years have been extremely challenging for entrepreneurs and small business owners, and in some respects, especially retail, more challenges lie ahead, but in other segments, mostly B2b and D2c, the markets are slowly recovering, albeit with new market forces at play we’ve never seen before. As a small business owner, many of the new market trends and changes can be overwhelming, especially while trying to run your day-to-day operations.
That said, I’ve curated a number of information resources, talked to our clients and compiled a list of important trends that you can implement into your business to create a hedge and remain resilient in 2022 and 23.
Let’s go through the list.
1- Be Digital
Since the start of the pandemic in February 2020, the number of people purchasing products and services has surged, and if you have a website or mobile app built before 2018, there’s a very high chance that your site has become dated or in a worst-case scenario, completely obsolete. You should conduct a “site audit” and ask some of your staff and customers to tell you what changes you should consider with your website. If you’re site looks tired and boring, any potential customers are going to have the exact same feeling when they visit your site.
Next, if you don’t already have one, create a mobile app. Even if your business isn’t an online retailer, there’s a wide divide between a “mobile app” and a “responsive site” that outputs to a mobile device. With a mobile app, you are able to brand the Apple Store and Google Play banners on your website, allowing people to visit either store and download the app. Once downloaded, your customers have the ability to see updates (using the red badge numbering tool) telling them there is new information to share. This could be anything from a blog post to a company announcement to a hundred other data points. Mobile apps are a very powerful tool when used correctly, but they can also be a bottomless pit if not developed for the right reasons. At Henderson Bizz, we’ve spent decades building and navigating the mobile app vs non-mobile app roadmap, and we’re happy to help when your Henderson or Las Vegas business has questions.
In addition to your company website and mobile app, you can’t forget social media. At Henderson Bizz, we understand that you never know where the next lead or sale will come from. This is why it’s so important to spread your message often and across multiple platforms. At Henderson Bizz, we use post-cards, snail mail, newsletters, along with social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest, but we also still use time proven strategies like going door-to-door and introducing our company directly to the business community. It’s very old school, but nothing replaces a handshake – nothing. If you are in retail, two additional must-haves are Facebook and Instagram, but for B2b and D2c, not so much.
2- Maximize the Customer Experience
You can either spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars driving new business in the door, or you can spend the right number of hours building customer relationships that are so strong, the number of referrals you receive will eclipse any amount of money you spend on “external” marketing. This is not to say that you can operate without external marketing, but when done correctly, and with the right mix, external marketing can become a secondary need within your company’s business model.
According to a Forrester Study for Shopify, 27% of businesses said improving customer experience is their first or second priority. We think these 27% of business owners will crush the other 73% in the long run.
So, what do customers want? Here’s what Salesforce says:
~ 66% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.
~ 76% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments.
~ 52% of customers expect offers to be personalized.
~ 68% of customers expect brands to demonstrate empathy.
~ 88% of customers expect companies to accelerate digital initiatives due to COVID-19.
3- Balancing Human and AI Interactions
Today, artificial intelligence (AI) has infiltrated every industry. AI robots are capable of doing tasks that were previously meant for humans, and they can do these tasks better, faster and longer, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The most recent example I saw of this was a custom auto paint shop that uses a robot to paint a car based on virtually any image uploaded to the system’s software.
Look for areas where you can leverage automation and the power of AI. For example, you can integrate an AI-powered chatbot on your website to address common customer questions. In fact, I would venture to say that you’ve had at least one conversation online with an AI-powered chatbot without you even knowing it.
4- Employee Coaching and Mentoring
Every small business has growth plans to become more efficient and profitable. In fact, in over twenty years, I’ve never had a call that didn’t involve nouns, verbs and adjectives like “Efficiencies”, “costs” and “faster”, and I’ll bet that won’t change in the next twenty years, either. That said, you must also invest time and resources into your stakeholders, management and staff. To retain employees, coaching and mentoring is essential. For example, 93% of companies report significantly less turnover when they offer to coach their employees, or provide outside certification courses or training. Some employers even offer to reimburse employees when they provide a copy of their credential showing completion of a course.
5- Adoption of the Hybrid Model
As markets rebound, a new perception has emerged with millions of people know working remotely from across the United States, but wait, offices are beginning to reopen, and employees are being told they need to come back to the office. As a small business owner, you have to make some very difficult decisions. At Henderson Bizz, we made the difficult decision in 2020 to become a permanent 100% all remote company, but what works for us doesn’t necessarily work for every small business. In my company, all meetings are remote, and when the occasional in-office visit is required, I’ll drive or get on a plane to meet a client in their town or city. As a business owner, assuming your team is in the office, you should consider some type of hybrid model where employees can work from home a few days a week, or like a model I saw last week, employees work two weeks “IN” and two weeks “OUT”, meaning they are in office for two weeks, then working from home the other two weeks. We know there are lots of permutations of the concept, but what’s most important is realizing that an overwhelming majority of employees and staff have grown accustomed to working from home… and that’s now a bargaining chip when hiring new personnel.
As a business owner, you know best how to adapt to the latest trends, re-evaluate, and fine-tune your strategies. These five small business trends for 2022 can help you determine where you should be now, as well as help provide some additional focus of what to consider in the upcoming year.
At Henderson Bizz, we offer the technical breadth, deep team experience, twenty years’ of application architecture and engineering experience, and over $20MM in custom designed software solutions for companies in Clark County, Nevada and across the nation. For questions, give us a call at 623-845-2747.