The Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed many traditional ways of doing business. For entrepreneurs, the trends that are emerging from these alterations present both challenges and opportunities. In either case, they bear watching and taking action.
Some trends spawned by the pandemic have been relatively short-lived. No longer do consumers feel compelled to purchase toilet paper by the case and let the mail sit for three days before opening it. Others are likely here to stay, at least for a while.
If you are an entrepreneur, or aspire to be one, here are three trends to look out for in 2022.
1. The Shift in Personal and Professional Priorities
The pandemic has proven that life is short, and health and fulfillment are more important than climbing the corporate ladder. As one famous entrepreneur, Marie Kondo, advises, if it doesn’t spark joy in your life, don’t keep it. I’m stretching her analogy from household clutter to the business world, but the principle still applies.
It’s this fundamental shift in mindset that has led to growth in the number of entrepreneurs. Many of those who are part of the Great Resignation have joined the pursuit of self-employment. The trend also offers opportunities for entrepreneurs in terms of the people they, in turn, might employ.
Scores of top employees have left their jobs to seek positions where they feel valued, connected and purposeful. If you can create and sustain that type of corporate culture, yours will be the job they choose to keep. You may not even have to match the salary and benefits package of a larger company if you can provide the fulfillment employees are seeking in increasing numbers.
Likewise, you have a chance to attract the growing number of customers who want to do business with companies aligned with their ideals. They like the idea of shopping local and supporting smaller businesses that offer a more personal customer experience. They gravitate toward companies committed to trending issues such as climate change and racial justice. If you build that type of company, and make sure they know who you arecustomers will come.
The intrinsic values people have moved toward might have been spurred by the pandemic, but they will persist for the foreseeable future. Speak to those values, and you will be speaking their language.
2. The Transformational Nature of Space
The trending transformational nature of space has many meanings. Let’s begin with the technology space, where connectivity is growing, largely due to 5G and the Internet of Things. Faster digital speeds offer room for innovation in mobile devices, healthcare, business and industry. In retail, for example, augmented reality has the potential to make a virtual shopping experience nearly indistinguishable from an in-store visit. WFH can be like being in the office without the expense of renting space.
If you need to rent space, however, you may be in luck. Despite inflation, the glut of available commercial space gives entrepreneurs a negotiating advantage. The trend toward downsizing office space continues. It’s spurred by employees expressing preferences for WFH or hybrid work arrangements.
There’s also expanding space between people doing the work for companies, and I’m not referring to social distancing. Big companies are hiring independent contractors to address problems with recruiting in-house talent. Opportunities abound for entrepreneurs seeking clients as they strike out on their own.
Moreover, the growing number of entrepreneurs working as independent contractors means other entrepreneurs can afford to farm out work critical to the growth of their enterprise in key areas. Outsourcing is particularly beneficial for smaller companies that need help with time- and talent-consuming tasks such as social media management, market research and content strategy.
Space may be the final frontier, but it can be a lucrative location for savvy entrepreneurs addressing these ongoing trends.
3. The Need to Secure Supply Chains With Safety Chains
The pandemic was a real eye-opener with regard to the fragility of the global supply chain. There have always been supply chain disruptions caused by wars, natural disasters and other massive events. But two years after the world shuttered temporarily, the issues continue with no end in sight.
The trick to solve the problem isn’t making the chain unbreakable. When a vehicle is towing a trailer, for example, it’s not just attached at the hitch. There’s a safety chain that keeps the trailer from coming loose if the main connection fails. Apply the same concept to secure your own supply chain.
There’s more than one way to fabricate that safety chain. Some companies are using technology to create a digital twin of their chains. Predictions can be made based on data from the supply chain and the multitude of factors that can affect it. The other half of the battle is identifying alternatives to the routine supply chain so they can be accessed immediately when something fails.
There are also less digital approaches. For example, you can move elements of your supply chain closer to home, where the impact of disruptions is greatly diminished. Many companies figured that out during the height of the pandemic, turning to local vendors, suppliers and shippers when far-flung chains broke down.
If you’re an entrepreneur with a smaller company, a broken link can put you out of business, so you need to have a plan. And if you own a business that could be a link in another company’s supply chain, you have an opportunity to not just stay in business but build it. Buckle up your safety chain, be the chain or do both.
No one can definitively predict the future of business, but spotting trends and understanding their implications can help. Keep an eye on these trends in 2022 and prepare yourself to address the challenges and seize the chances in true entrepreneurial style.