Where Are We Going in 2022?

If you are reading this, you made it through 2021 — the year that was supposed to have been the “rebound year” from 2020’s Covid-19-induced disaster for small businesses. While 2021 was not quite the year we had hoped for in terms of supply chains and freedom from government restrictions and mandates, it wasn’t a complete disaster.

After a less than optimistic 2020, last year ushered in over 4.6 million applications for new businesses. Innovation and sheer willpower helped business owners overcome hurdles and adapt, and they now appear poised to rebuild, reimagine, and prepare for a brighter future.

The pandemic’s bright side was that consumers decided to shop small and shop local, as if they could forecast the coming supply chain issues of late 2021. And this inspired the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to offer a few “top tips” for small businesses in 2022:

  • Keep track of scarcities in the supply chain and get ahead of them by working proactively with your suppliers.
  • Proactively educate your clients about any changes you make or plan to make as the economic landscape changes.
  • Get creative on sales and marketing opportunities. A workforce working almost exclusively from home during Covid created a dynamic digital marketing landscape. Buyers are reluctant to return to brick and mortar shopping, so online and mobile purchasing habits require our selling and fulfillment methods to have compatible strategies.
  • Consider outsourcing. Hiring part-time experienced freelancers can help you avoid the hiring and training costs of full-time employees and skilled outsourced contractors are in abundance.

Perhaps someone you knew joined “The Great Resignation” of 2021. Covid saw workers quit their jobs at record-high rates to seek a better work-life balance. Now, as small business owners, we may need to rethink and rephrase how we attract and retain a workforce that now wants a meaningful life with work, family, friends and self. 

All food for thought as we collectively head into 2022. We wish everyone a healthy, happy, and abundant New Year. We also like to hear your thoughts on where we are going in 2022. Feel free to share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Small Business Holiday Celebrations

December launches the happiest (or most stress-filled?) time of the year for small business. Regardless of which holiday your employees celebrate—Christmas, Hanukkah, or perhaps another, it’s a festive time for office decorating and party planning. Expressing appreciation during the holidays contributes to a fun, cohesive work culture, especially for those offices that were forced to adapt to working remotely during the Covid pandemic. 

Even if you simply celebrate the season without consideration for tradition, your employees will notice the effort and enjoy the camaraderie. Employee gifts are always appreciated, whether it be in the form of individual tokens like a small gift, office party with food, or a long lunch hour at a local restaurant. If you plan to give employees a Christmas or end-of-the year bonus, now is the time to confirm that funds were included in the annual budget.

A recent survey indicated that only 41.5% of small businesses plan to give a holiday bonus this year “if they can afford it.” So many are looking for alternative ways to inspire employees and make the season special.

Decorating the office and being creative are good places to start. More suggestions include holding a Christmas sweater contest, Christmas cookie bake-off, or hosting a catered lunch, potluck, or no-fuss restaurant luncheon. What might be the best motivational idea of all? Volunteering for a non-profit organization or having an office party where, instead of a gift exchange among employees, have everyone bring a backpack full of school supplies, or another item that is relevant to the charity that the gift exchange will support. Giving back is a winning way to bring your team together and still have fun. Plus, it’s a great PR opportunity for your business. Ideas might also include selecting a charity to help raise funds, working in a soup kitchen, or collecting donations for a toys, food, or clothing drive.

If you manufacture a product or provide a service that has general appeal to consumers, offer it to a nonprofit as an auction item. 

The important thing to remember is that it’s been a tough couple of years. It’s time for good cheer and holiday celebrating. What’s your idea this year? Let us know.

Small Business Recovery

Before COVID, the outlook for small business was high. However, the worldwide pandemic affected all sectors, and especially small business. Lack of customers, inability to meet face-to-face, a sudden decline in sales, health concerns, uncertainty, and many other reasons have created one of the most challenging times ever.

Business owners were left to fend for themselves while the economy dropped like a stone. Owners and staff struggled to stay afloat between virus surges, government regulations for masking and isolation, vaccination availability, and work from home rules.

Even though, Americans adjusted to the new normal while hand sanitizer and toilet paper sales flew through the roof. To stay afloat, business owners adapted and innovated. They embraced technology. Meetings were held via Zoom, GoToMeeting, and other web-based software. They invested in SaaS tools to keep going in the face of massive shutdowns. Employees worked from home, goods were bought and delivered via e-commerce, database management systems kept inventory management, communication, project management and collaboration humming along.

What we found remarkable was all this technology was provided without the price spikes we have seen recently in fuel prices and shortages of goods by disruptions to the supply chain.

Regardless, small business will claw itself toward recovery, because Americans always do. We did it after WWII and we’ll do this time. Recovery will take time, perhaps up to five years. Many may never reopen. Small businesses operate with slimmer margins than large corporations. We have less to invest in technology and less working capital. But the ingenuity we have to adapt is priceless.