A. FINANCE: 1) Paycheck Protection (PPP), 2) Alternate Sources,
B. MARKETING: 3) Social Media, 4) Paid-Placement, 5) Multi-Media,
C: Technology: 6) AR & VR, 7) AI & BiG, 8) New Tech,
D. HUMAN RESOURCES: 9) Min Wage, 10) Paid Leave, 11) OSHA, 12) Vaccination Policy.
Purpose: This article is for Entrepreneurs who want to start the year off right by capitalizing on & Trends & Predictions that will impact their industry. Here are a few key Trends:
- Lending programs related to Pandemic will be key, but they are not sufficient. Alternative sources of funding will be needed as well to meet Business owners’ Capital needs in 2021.
- Digital Marketing spending will increase, as traditional Marketing and PR gets a facelift in 2021.
- Small Businesses will drive the adoption of developing Technologies, and AR/VR will come into their own as the Pandemic continues into 2021.
Looking back at the crisis of 2020, Small Businesses are more optimistic that 2021 will be a brighter year. While the Pandemic is not yet gone for businesses across the U.S.A., that optimism is buoyed by the distribution of Vaccines. Although the Pandemic has been front & center since early last year, there are other trends on the horizon for entrepreneurs to watch as well.
Business News Daily connected with experts in finance, marketing, tech, & HR to find out what small businesses should expect in 2021 and how to take advantage of these trends.
1. The Paycheck Protection Program will buoy many Small Businesses.
The economic impact of the Pandemic has depleted many businesses’ Cash reserves. Although many states reopened after initial shutdowns, some are re-imposing restrictions, re-igniting concerns around Cash Flow & the survival of Small Businesses. The recent $900B Stimulus bill included additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was established last year under the Corona-virus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. “Small businesses should try to take advantage of the new Stimulus bill, including [applying for] a new PPP [loan],” said a Venture Capitalist. The PPP loan might be forgivable later, depending on how you use the funds.
2. Alternative sources of Capital will fill un-met Funding needs.
For many other business owners, loans might not be an option, especially if they incurred significant Financial loss during the Pandemic. In those cases, alternative sources of funding, such as alternative lenders or investors, might be critical to attaining much-needed Funding for many entrepreneurs. Alternative sources of Capital will likely also play a pivotal role in keeping businesses solvent. (Sources could include grants, fintech, VC, angels, peer-to-peer lending & crowd-funding ) These are important, because many businesses that actually need the Capital will not be able to meet the requirements of traditional Funding sources due to the negative impact the Pandemic has had on their balance sheets.”
Key takeaway: Government Loan programs will be critical to the immediate survival of small businesses, but alternate sources of funding will be key to keeping businesses funded in the long term.
3.Spending on Social Media will increase significantly.
The leading Social Media (SM) platforms have billions of users between them, so it is no surprise that SM has been a growing target for marketers. That rapid growth won’t stop in 2021. Estimates suggest that SM Ad spending will increase by 15% in 2021. That’s nearly double the total SM Ad spending in 2017. They are forced into digital, and many of them see that it is working really well. While SM Advertising is increasingly important, it is increasingly competitive. Small businesses should focus on a multi-channel organic approach to build an audience & brand awareness. While ads can bolster organic growth, small businesses should avoid getting into a SM arms race with competitors when organic approaches like content marketing could have a better return on investment [ROI].
4. Paid-placement Advertising will increase in traditional Media outlets.
From 2012 through 2019, spending on paid placement advertisements in the U.S. grew 2.5x and that trend is only going to continue in 2021. Additionally, the line between sponsored content & non-sponsored content is likely to blur, since audiences clearly prefer authenticity to advertisement. We’re going to see a lot more paid-placement in traditional media, because it is really hard to get earned media. PP are going to be very immersive and very video-centric; it will be hard to tell the difference between paid & earned Advertising. This could be a risky strategy for many media outlets, possibly jeopardizing their credibility. However, a lot of companies are walking the line there.
5. Multi-media spending will generate better ROI than conventional Press Releases.
In part due to the difficulty of securing earned media, Press Releases [PR] are becoming less effective. Brands are likely to bring PR in-house and produce video announcements of news-worthy company developments rather than send text-based releases to media outlets in hopes they will be published. Press releases may be a thing of the past. There is very little value today in putting out PR. Where PR is absolutely necessary, they will be most effective when inter-active or video-based.
Key takeaway: Social Media is increasingly prominent for Marketers in the wake of the Pandemic, while conventional PR will see minor changes in 2021.
C. Development of Technology
6. Augmented & Virtual Reality come into their own.
AR & VR have been the dreams of techies for some time now, but 2021 might be the year they break new ground in terms of business adoption. Best of all, small businesses could take the lead on the trend. AR & VR allow us to experience the world in a totally different way and it’s extremely powerful. If you want to go to networking events during this Pandemic, you can go to VR networking events happening right now. You can create Trade Show exhibits that are VR & AR experiences in an affordable way. All Small businesses should consider using AR & VR to stand out from the competition & generate excitement among their audience.
7. Artificial Intelligence [AI] & BiG data will drive personalization.
Other technologies that businesses we can’t ignore are (AI) & Data Analytics. These two technologies are a match made in heaven that allows businesses to not only collect massive troves of data, but use Machine Learning to make sense of that data. The insights businesses gain in this way can be used to improve Target Marketing campaigns or find new efficiencies in internal processes. You can have a high level of personalization today because of big data. You can use it to create a custom user experience, because you know what your customers want in a predictable way. Whether small businesses want to leverage Machine Learning & Data Analytics for marketing purposes or finding new efficiencies at work, it’s more affordable to get started than you might think. Depending on what your business is and what you’re looking to accomplish, you can leverage AI & automation in a very affordable way.
8. Small Businesses will drive new Tech adoption.
A common misconception when it comes to developing tech, is that small businesses feel like it is the shadow of big business. However, the opposite is true. If you’re a small business and some new tech comes out, you can implement it immediately !!! A big company has to test & try before they buy. By the time they done these preliminaries and set everything up, they don’t want to change it again because they’ve invested too much time & $$$ in it. That ability to be nimble & adapt to developing technology gives small businesses an BiG edge, and that’s why it will be small businesses that drives mass adoption of technologies like AR/VR & Machine Learning in 2021.
Key Takeaway: Developing technologies like AR, VR & AI will start to be adopted by mainstream businesses & consumers. Small businesses will be important in driving this mass adoption.
D. HUMAN RESOURCES
The world of HR could be in for some significant changes with the changing of the Presidents in the White House. This could result in policy changes impacting businesses of all sizes.
9. The federal Minimum wage will be increased.
The federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised in more than a decade, and a sharp increase was part of the Biden campaign’s platform. Right now, it’s $7.25, and the last time it was amended was 2009. The Biden administration talked about a $15 minimum wage, which would be a substantial increase. They seem to be determines to go thru with that level of increase, but it remains to be seen. Expect some sort of raising of the minimum wage.”
10. Federal Paid Leave could become law in 2021.
Amid the pandemic, the call for paid Family & Medical Leave has been greater than ever. Recently, with the passage of the Families First Corona-virus Response Act (FFCRA), the federal govt extended the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the unpaid leave it provides. However, that could soon become paid leave. The other big piece we see coming based upon what has been said in Biden admin is some type of new paid leave laws. Biden was pretty vocal about that throughout the pandemic. I would expect that Biden will try to pass some type of codified Paid Leave at the federal level. Whether or not that would apply to all sizes of businesses is still yet to be seen,.
11. OSHA will step up Pandemic–related enforcement.
Many small businesses might not have heard much from the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) last year, but that is likely to change in 2021. Small businesses should ensure they have the required safety protocols in place in preparation for increased monitoring. During the pandemic, OSHA has been relatively quiet as far as enforcement actions or aggressive investigations, or mandating compliance with pandemic-related safety precautions. Expect that the Biden admin is going to change that. Expect to see much more forceful guidance & active enforcement from OSHA – both at federal & state level relative to pandemic restrictions. How can small businesses ensure they are prepared to pass a compliance check if OSHA steps up monitoring & enforcement? The best thing to do is monitor the CDC guidance to what businesses should do to protect themselves, employees and customers. Also, make sure you’re checking state & local ordinances. County officials or state officials impose lockdowns or other requirements on businesses, and it is incumbent upon employers in that geographic area to comply with those ordinances. If not, there is usually some type of penalty that can be assessed.”
12. Small businesses will need a Pandemic vaccination policy.
As the Pandemic Vaccine becomes more widely available, businesses will need a policy on how to address Vaccination requirements. Entrepreneurs should begin planning a policy now. Consult with an Attorney to ensure all local, state & federal regulations are followed when developing your policy. As the Vaccine becomes more generally available, employers are going to be faced with the decision as to how they deal with that in the workplace. Are they going to require it? Recommend it? Incentivize employees to get it? Getting those policies & practices drafted & finalized, then making sure they match operational needs of the business now is going to be important – especially for SMBs that won’t have an HR department.
Comments: Do you know of any other Business Trends – significant to know for 2021?
fm New Moon Consulting 2/21 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4.biz
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