Let’s face it – 2020 was a challenge for every business. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy has taken a massive hit due to quarantine orders, mask mandates, and other service prohibiting measures. This has caused businesses to temporarily close their doors or shut down entirely due to the lack of customers, government orders, or ability to maintain financing.
With the pandemic still present at the start of the new year, what will 2021 hold for American companies? This will depend primarily on the vaccine and its distribution. Once we better maintain the spread of Covid-19, the economy can start to see some normalcy again, but this timeline isn’t set in stone. There’s no definite date that businesses can hold onto. However, we can make certain predictions based on how 2020 has changed company operations and business performance. Consider the outcome for business trends in 2020, and take a look at the top business trends to look for in 2021.
2020 Business Trends
Every type of small business has suffered due to mandated distancing requirements and limiting capacity orders. With these rules in place and with an unpredictable pandemic situation, many businesses have closed permanently. Others have kept their doors open but in order to stay afloat they need to lay off some of their staff.
Restaurants and bars in many states were prohibited from offering indoor dining. Most if not all restaurants around the U.S. were hit with a limit on the number of customers they could have inside their doors at one time. How can a business expect to sell the same number of meals and drinks with a huge reduction on how many customers they have?
The answer is, they can’t. Federal Paycheck Protection grants and loans have helped many small businesses like neighborhood restaurants and bars stay afloat, but they cannot entirely replace pre-pandemic income. This has caused businesses to take matters into their own hands with staff, hours, and service reductions, just to survive.
Similar to the food industry, other businesses that suffered due to the reduced clientele they could see in person include:
- Hair and nail salons
- Massage therapists
- Tanning Salons
Healthcare has also seen a change in operations due to Covid-29. Telemedicine has expanded greatly with doctor’s appointments and check-ups being done online through services such as Zoom. However, many doctors still need to see patients in person for diagnostic, treatment, and follow-up care. With this in person demand, clinics, offices, and hospitals adopted safety procedures. This often included mandatory masks, temperature taking, and limited number of patients in the building.
Health insurance companies are paying for telemedicine when appropriate which has lessened the load on the healthcare industry. With this support, many healthcare workers were able to maintain their employment through 2020.
Remote Work and Social Distancing
In 2020, many businesses successfully migrated to an online format. Employees worked remotely and customers received their service remotely. Despite the accessibility during the pandemic, these types of businesses have seen a slight decline in their demand. This downturn was nothing drastic and most of these businesses are operating as usual, just remote. These include:
- Law firms
- Accountants and CPA
- Tax Preparers
- Estate Planners
- Interior Designers and Decorators
- Landscape architects
Some small businesses didn’t just survive the 2020 pandemic situation but they thrived. The nature of the following businesses weren’t harmed by social distancing orders and saw their demand rise.
- Landscapers/Lawn Care
- Auto Mechanics
- Fish Farming
- Long Distance Hauling
A majority of businesses who distribute food have gone virtual in their services. Production floors are still operating but changes have been made to accommodate social distancing and limited employee capacity.
These businesses who were in production adopted drop-shipping. This assisted in the distributing and selling of goods while limiting the number of hands the item passed through. However, this has caused an overdrive in the United State Post Office.
Shopping for food online was popular before the pandemic and it’s still popular during. Many customers had fear of shopping in person due to Covid-19, so the decision to go virtual with food distribution was a profitable one for these businesses.
When the pandemic hit, a lot changed for financial services. Credit card companies and lenders cut their credit limits. Many small businesses, those who needed more financial support, were negatively affected by this.
- Businesses that can operate and provide services virtually or remotely;
- Workers who can do their job remotely;
- Any entertainer, musician, athlete, or team who can record, stream, or televise their event;
- Businesses that are saving money on overhead because they have downsized or eliminated their job site;
- Manufacturers of goods in high demand.
- Any business that must administer its services in-person;
- Any worker that must do their job on-site and in-person;
- Commercial landlords;
- Residential landlords;
- Professional, in-person entertainment, music, and sporting events;
- Any worker who was laid off due to the pandemic
2021 Business Trends Predictions
Looking ahead at 2021 business trends, many operation changes for the service industry will stay the same. Safety products, especially used in restaurants and retail, are predicted to stay in 2021. These include:
- Cashier Shields
- Hand Sanitizer Kiosks
- Floor Labels
Other 2020 trends that will carry into 2021 include curbside pickup, no-contact delivery, and online ordering. For restaurants specifically, it’s predicted that adapted meals for takeout and QR code menus will still be used.
Unfortunately, the outlook for employees in the service industry is still dim for 2021. The pandemic is still very unpredictable which means more layoffs and extended hiring freezes are expected.
- Update your business so it has the safety products that will make your employees and customers feel safe.
- Focus your efforts on accessible pick-up and delivery options.
According to 2021 business trends predictions, the surge in digital healthcare is expected to continue rising in the new year. Even if the coronavirus situation becomes more controlled and social distancing orders are removed, digital healthcare will stay. This pandemic has introduced a new level of convenience that wasn’t used before in healthcare. Some consumers aren’t going to switch back.
Much of hospitals’ equipment budget is expected to be redirected to other more immediate needs. These needs are focused on a digital presence with virtual care, remote patient monitoring, and health IT capabilities.
As far as the job outlook for workers in the healthcare industry, you can expect it to continue growing. Demand for healthcare workers is still high in 2021 and with the adaption to virtual services, workers don’t have to worry about their job security.
- Continue adapting and adding virtual services.
- Adopt a flexible pricing model.
In terms of 2021 business trends for the Construction industry, the industry will likely have a very up and down recovery after the pandemic. It’s predicted that another surge in cases combined with the lack of new stimuli, and supply challenges will cause another recession.
This means 2021 is expected to bring more layoffs, company closures, and a lack of demand. Even with these predictions, there’s a lot of uncertainty around what 2021 will bring for the construction industry.
The construction industry has also been behind in adapting to an online format. For 2021, it is expected that this industry will increase their digital investments to meet more customer needs online.
- Try acquiring a business loan to keep your business afloat.
- Adapt some services or customer communication to a digital format.
As a result of the pandemic, the food distribution industry will begin to look very different in 2021. It is predicted that there will be changes to grocery stores and supermarkets to reduce customer confusion but also increase sales. This is to be done by new store layouts with packaged goods in the back and fresh food in the front. The packaged food will be bundled for you when you provide an employee a shopping list.
Instead of new and advanced products being created and put on shelves, 2021 brings simplified product lines. Food distributors are expected to reduce what produces they carry to help free up more warehouse space for streamlining supply chains.
E-commerce will likely be a big part of the food distribution industry in the new year. Consumers will be doing more online shopping. However, costs will continue to rise.
- Update store models and production plans to adhere to the changing market.
- Focus priority on building an e-commerce presence.
2021 looks optimistic for financial services. Credit cards and lenders are beginning to increase their credit limits again. This is great news for businesses who are looking to get loans in the new year. The main sectors that are seeing this credit increase include healthcare, construction, and e-commerce.
Small business lending will likely be up and running this year but with some changes. Some industries will face more restrictions and the standard for businesses will be more strict across the board.
- Find a Lender and get a business loan.
- Update your business to be eligible for new lending restrictions.
2021 Overall Business Tips
Taking 2020 and expected 2021 business trends into account, here’s our suggestions for making 2021 a more successful year.
Go Remote Wherever Possible
While quarantines seem to be in the past, the coronavirus is still very much in play. Social distancing, capacity limits, and mask mandates will still affect businesses. If any of the services you provide can go digital, you should do it. Many people are still shopping online and are expected to be well into the new year.
Start Building an Emergency Fund
Whenever possible, send a portion of your profits to an emergency fund. This will create a safety net for any more unpredictable events associated with the coronavirus or otherwise. While your business may still be struggling from 2020, even the smallest amount of money could make a huge impact later.
2021 is looking positive for financial services. While 2020 may have been a difficult time for acquiring business loans, you shouldn’t be afraid to try in the new year. Lenders are ready to help you finance, so be sure to make this a top priority in 2021.
Build Your Online Brand
Even more than before, your potential customers are online. With limited in-person services still operating, it’s essential to keep your ideal customers reminded of your business. Build your social media and SEO presence so you can continue driving leads and transactions even when you can’t operate at full capacity.
If you are looking for additional resources to grow your business in 2021, get in touch with 360Connect. We specialize in helping businesses in 30+ industries win new business and grow revenue.