Top 7 Small Business Trends to Grow Your Customer Base in 2021
The market of small businesses is very, very large. Statistically speaking, there are 30.7 million small businesses in the US, which accounts for 99.9% of all the businesses in the country. Yes, you heard that right.
The bigger the market, the bigger the dynamics. Small businesses cover almost every domain of work – from the salons and spas to professional trainers and life coaches. Given the big market size, they influence a huge population on a day-to-day basis. This, in turn, implies that these markets are influenced a lot by their consumer base too.
And what contributes to that is the changing consumer profile. Consumer preferences, habits, and demands – everything changes. These changes govern the various small business trends that we see.
As a small business owner, you should be able to perceive such changing buyer persona first hand and adapt your business accordingly.
But, this is easier said than done.
Fret not! We are here to make this task easy for you. In this blog, we present the 7 small business trends 2021 has seen on the rise!
So without any further ado, let’s begin!
List of contents:
- Maintaining COVID-related hygiene
- Promoting your business on social media
- Delivering products at the doorstep of customers
- Personalizing the overall consumer experience
- Adopting sustainable practices
- Tapping into employee well-being and growth
- Using technology to simplify admin processes
1. Maintaining COVID-related hygiene
This is the one trend that has really influenced consumer choices in a big way. The COVID-19 pandemic clearly shifted the user priorities towards hygiene and healthcare. If your service center doesn’t follow the protocols and guidelines, your client influx will surely fall.
Good thing, this trend is not very hard to tackle. You just need to follow a few basic steps:
- Make sure each and everyone is wearing a mask.
- Regularly sanitize your hands and all the inanimate surfaces.
- Perform temperature checks on every customer that enters your premises.
- Ensure social distancing between people. Implement alternate seating arrangements. Chalk down circles for the queues.
- You can limit the number of customers present at your store at a certain time.
- Operate at a lower staff strength. To implement this, make your staff come on alternate days instead of regularly.
- Operate virtually, if it is possible for your business to do so.
Once you have made sure that all the requirements are in accordance with the rules set by the Health Department in your area, promote it.
This is very important because your clients might not be visiting you, fearing an unhygienic environment at your store. Showcase the undertaken hygienic practices on your website, social media channels, and outside your office/ shop. Instill this belief amongst your customers that you can be trusted.
2. Promoting your business on social media
Social media isn’t a new small business trend but it still remains the easiest way through which you can interact with both your current and potential customers. Having a consistent activity on your social media accounts can reap great wonders for your business.
Over 91% of the social media users access it through their phones. This gives social media marketing an added advantage because phones are the easiest medium to disseminate information through, and therefore businesses should efficiently exploit it.
With so many eyeballs on various posts and stories, companies are getting more and more creative with their social media activities. They are flaunting their brand in the most fashionable way possible.
It is no more about being just active and consistent but having that ‘finesse’ in your marketing campaign.
Below-mentioned are some quick tips to make your small business’s marketing stand out on the social media platforms:
- Share 1 to 3 tweets and/or retweets per day.
- Always use hashtags with your tweets. This can help your tweet to show up on a searcher’s (or even a future customer’s!) page. For example, you can use #smallbusiness in every tweet.
- Accompany your tweets with eye-catching photos of your brand products and services.
- You can reach out to the professionals who match your interests and build your network.
- This network can also help you gain new customers through referrals.
- You can share informative content with respect to your expertise and gain your potential customers’ trust.
- Create a mood board that fits your brand’s vibe and tone. Be consistent with the colors you use in your photos.
- Save more than you create! Save pins of fellow business owners to increase your views.
- Use more product pins than story or video pins, as product pins have a direct call-to-action.
D.) Instagram and Facebook
- Open a business account on Instagram and Facebook, and not a personal one.
- Upload aesthetic photos of your service outlet and products. Don’t laze out on this step as many users will unfollow you if you upload poor-quality pictures.
- Use the right hashtags with every post. Brainstorm and research on what hashtags a user might search for a particular product and/or service, and accordingly frame your hashtags.
- Design giveaway campaigns. This increases user traction on your profile.
- Convert your profile visitors to paying customers by adding a ‘Book Now’ button to your Instagram and Facebook profiles. This will integrate your account with your appointment scheduling software.
3. Delivering products at the doorstep and of course, e-commerce!
Prior to the pandemic, the SMBs had little to no online presence. The reason being that they weren’t aware of its potential. Not just that, their traffic majorly consisted of walk-in customers, so the need for an online presence wasn’t mandatory. But a lot has changed post the pandemic and the consequent lockdowns.
With home quarantine and social distancing guidelines in place, people stayed away from these marketplaces.
To keep the businesses up and kicking, it was now time for them to approach customers upfront, contrary to what has been the case all this time.
All of this has given rise to this new SMB trend. The retailers and small vendors have been influenced the most by this. They all have started receiving orders either online or over the phone and delivering them to the consumer’s doorstep.
Even service-providing businesses like salons and spas have started offering their services remotely. Mobile salons, among a sea of other salon trends, have earned a newfound recognition in this pandemic.
In a nutshell, all types of small businesses are doing all they can to give the in-store experience to customers at their doorstep.
Here are a few tips through which you can effectively capture this trend:
- Make a website and/or a mobile app for your business to receive and deliver orders seamlessly.
- Offer contactless payment options, like credit cards, PayPal, etc. If possible, integrate digital payment systems into your website and mobile app.
- If you are a small retailer, you can also provide a curbside pickup facility, where your customers shall simply pick up their pre-ordered items.
4. Personalizing the overall consumer experience
This is born out of changing customer behavior and has become one of the growing trends for small businesses. The new-age customer doesn’t just want to settle with your offerings. They want you to push your expertise a notch higher and personalize them to their individual needs.
As we discussed in the beginning, small businesses comprise a plethora of services. There will be different types of personalization for each of these services. But there are a few practices common to all these services that can help you win this personalization game:
1. Keep a customer journey record: By simply keeping track of what types of products and services your customers avail, you can know a lot about your customers and revamp your service offerings accordingly.
Suppose, Alex from 21st street has been buying a particular gluten-free milkshake every Monday four weeks in a row, and somehow forgets on the 5th week’s Monday. Now, you reminding him of the gluten-free milkshake will leave a long-lasting impression of your brand in Alex’s mind, apart from meeting his dietary needs, of course!
2. Collect feedback: Sometimes your customer might just not like a particular service or staff member of your business. Instead of conveying this to you, he/she might simply stop visiting you.
To prevent such a scenario, there should be a feedback form in place that a customer can give after every visit. This will not only make the customer feel valued but will also improve and optimize your practices.
5. Adopting sustainable practices
Sustainability, green practices, eco-friendliness, etc. – these buzzwords are used interchangeably and have become widely profound in the current market scenario. This makes sense too because living in a healthier environment is the need of the hour.
Celebrities, sportspersons, politicians, and the normal population – everyone is talking about it. Your business ought to be vocal about it too.
You should come out as an active proponent of eco-friendly practices. The reason being that your customer is more likely to visit you if you offer nature-friendly alternatives. Also, such practices can have a massive impact on the environment.
Make sure your daily practices reflect what you are concerned about and work in favor of the environment. To start off the green revolution in your business, here are some quick tips from us:
- Count and measure anything and everything that you can: This includes keeping a track of the units of electricity you have consumed, the number of plastic cups and bags used, your carbon footprint, etc.
- Set a goal: Make monthly and weekly goals for your business. Make it a goal to keep the monthly energy consumption lower than your previous month, or set some specific number for that matter.
- Repair and replace: Use more sustainable alternatives. A classic example will be replacing the CFL bulbs with LED bulbs. Fix the water leakages and install water-efficient showerheads.
- Decorate it green: If your business is green in nature, it should look green in appearance too. Fill the empty corners of your store with flower pots and plants (real ones and not the plastic-based showpieces). And yes, don’t forget to water them regularly!
- Flaunt it on social media: Because, why not? Your customer base should know about your eco-friendly stance and it is your responsibility to spread the word actively.
6. Tapping into employee well-being and growth
The pandemic made the risk of burnout amongst employees higher than ever. The fear and anxiety surrounding the world have taken a major toll on the mental health of people, including your employees and you. This has also affected their work productivity.
Your business should not only take care of the overall well-being of your employee but also focus on their all-around development. If your employees can connect with your business and align themselves with the business’s purpose and mission, they will naturally be more productive.
This pandemic has reinitiated the conversations on the relationship between work and employees. Companies have started some serious work on fostering a good rapport with their staff, which in turn can help in the overall economic growth as well.
Talking on the same point, we have a few ideas for your business to work on this:
- Make the employees’ needs feel heard: Employees don’t generally tend to open up about their complaints and problems upfront. Provide a feedback mechanism for anonymous opinions. A much better solution is encouraging open communication and being non-judgemental about the issues. This will make the employees comfortable in putting forward their grievances.
- Reduce the work stress: Have a time-block for a group meditation and yoga session at least once or twice a week. You can have recreation activities like movie nights, football matches, small outdoor trips, etc. Apart from reducing stress, this will also reinstate a team spirit amongst all of the employees.
- Professional skill development: Focus on making your employees better at their skills. Send them to training sessions and seminars so that they can learn and grow. If possible, have some in-house training and project sessions. This learning curve will give them a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
7. Using technology to simplify admin processes
As opposed to the trends that we’ve discussed before, this particular trend has become more of a norm for many service-based businesses.
Any business that renders services at their site witnesses a lot of customers day-in and day-out. Managing all of their bookings can prove to be a big hassle. Many such services have a person in place to take care of these booking logistics. But this is not the right solution!
The assigned staff cannot be available 24*7 to cater to all customers around the clock. This way, you might miss out on some important customers. There can also be some booking overlaps due to human error.
All of these factors have been tackled easily with the ever-evolving technological advancements. And one such advancement has led to the trend of adoption of an online appointment scheduling system.
With an appointment scheduling software in place, the need for a human interface between customers and your business is eliminated.
Customers can view the staff availability and accordingly book an appointment slot themselves. Many of such software also comes with a host of features that can make your life simple.
- A reminder is sent to customers as well as the staff ahead of the time of appointment to prevent no-shows.
- You can also set a cancellation policy and make sure you don’t lose revenue due to any last-minute cancellations.
- Customers can also reschedule and cancel their appointment in the case when they can’t show up. This frees up your calendar block, allowing for another customer to book an appointment.
If you don’t have such a software in place, then it is the need of the hour for you to have one.
Small businesses touch human lives on a daily basis, right from the cup of coffee in the morning to brushing the teeth before going to sleep. It is their widespread presence that makes them so strong.
Although there has been certain resistance by the pandemic, the SMBs have been resilient enough to stand their ground firmly. They hold a lot of potentials, and you, as a small business owner, just need to know how to tap that potential. It is all about setting your foot in the right direction, at all times.
Trends give you an idea about what this direction should be, and therefore you should always have a keen eye on all the business developments unfolding in your industry.
Do follow the small business trends mentioned in this blog, and stay active on the hunt for new trends and opportunities! 😊
We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day.
If you have any thoughts on this blog, or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below.
We love a good talk!