When we launched SharedTEAMS back in 2010, our goal was to solve the challenges that small businesses face when navigating the complex and evolving world of modern marketing. After supporting hundreds of small businesses over the past 10 years, our community is now faced with a new and much more significant challenge.
In 2020, while many small businesses struggled, large corporations maneuvered to successfully capture significant market share in the wake of the small business economy devastation.
Small Businesses Have Lost Market Share to Larger Corporations Since the Start of the Pandemic
According to Business Wire, in a CBiz survey conducted between August 25 and September 15, 2020, small businesses took some major hits last year: “The pandemic touched nearly all industries across the small- and mid-sized business space.”
While 85% of small businesses clambered for essential PPP and other life-giving government aid, 51% of businesses surveyed by CBiz reported a “significant decrease in sales due to the pandemic,” with businesses in the western US seeing a larger impact while Midwest businesses were slightly less affected. 48% of businesses with 1-4 employees noted they experienced a significant or severe impact on their business and 37% of businesses with 20-49 employees reported the same.
In terms of market share, Yelp.com alone reported nearly 100,000 businesses permanently shut down during the pandemic. Even so, Oberlo reports an increase in the number of small businesses in the US from 30.7 in 2019 to 31.7 in 2020.
However, a recent American Express survey found that 75% of entrepreneurs are optimistic about their business’s recovery and 82% feel they are better prepared to handle a crisis in the future.
How Can Businesses Reclaim This Lost Market Share?
More and more, consumers are voicing their distrust in large companies and corporations. A National Federation of Independent Business report showed that 89% of adults place their confidence in small businesses, and only 44% of people trust corporations.
Online presence is a broad term that encompasses many different forms of media from website content and shopping experiences to blogs, social media posts, and informative product and service videos and overviews. But why invest in digital integrations and full-service websites? Trends and your ever-changing audience’s needs.
95% of purchases will be made through e-commerce by 2040, and that trend was only accelerated in 2020. Presenting a user-friendly and trustworthy brand online is a primary way small businesses will regain lost market share in 2021. As customers become more and more investigative – seeking out product reviews, asking for opinions and advice on social media, comparing price and popularity of different brands – the need for your small business to have a strong online presence only increases.
Gen Z is the first generation to grow up fully immersed in the digital world. As the percentage of consumers shifts in their favor, it creates trends that didn’t exist previously. More and more, customers test the legitimacy of a business by the state of their website and social media offerings.
If these elements look outdated, neglected, or are not optimized for mobile users, many younger customers will bypass a business, even if reviews are still positive, in favor of a more modern website design and user experience. Optimizing your small business presence online is a must, whether you are serving a small local area (as many restaurants and boutique-style shops do) or have the capability to ship to multiple states and even countries.
Small Businesses Can Adapt to This New Economy
“Pivot” has become a buzzword in the last year. Small businesses that reacted to the pandemic by pivoting their business to incorporate new online solutions and AI (artificial intelligence) integration seem to have fared better than businesses that relied solely on government aid or temporary closures. As of 2020, “64% or less than two-thirds of SMB have a website. 94% of those websites are mobile-friendly in 2020,” according to Review42.
According to Forbes, there are 15 small business trends that will be prominent as we head into 2021. Many of these trends are also blueprints that show the way forward for small businesses that are looking to pivot and adapt to this new landscape. A few of these trends include flexibility, outsourcing, and re-evaluating marketing spending.
Flexibility is a hallmark of many of these trends. Whether it means repurposing office space for other uses, diversifying product or service offerings, or taking advantage of the gig work surge.
To save time and money without giving up core business processes and decisions, many small business owners are outsourcing facets of their work, like marketing and financial tasks. This not only frees up small business owners to focus more closely on running their business, but it also adds value to their offerings.
By employing freelance workers and specialized teams, owners no longer have to think like a marketer, owner, employee, and accountant all at once. Outsourcing specific job functions to teams and individuals with targeted experience can help small business owners skip a lot of the issues they may experience when using “learn as you go” or trial-and-error marketing methods because these tasks are being handled by experts at a price that is affordable for the small business.
We touched on marketing spending in the last paragraph, but it’s worth mentioning again because the speed and flexibility with which small businesses have to be able to pivot means that marketing campaigns with long-term ROI will be replaced with more targeted efforts. And these targeted efforts will be created with a different goal than previous endeavors.
This goal will be to engage clients on a bigger and deeper level, rather than smaller and wider. Recapturing market share will depend on how well you serve the needs of your customers by creating deep, meaningful relationships, rather than trying to perpetually entice new customers.
By piggybacking these ideas – flexibility, outsourcing, and rethinking marketing spending – you can create solutions that allow you to focus on creating those meaningful client relationships.
As a team that solely supports small businesses, we have maintained our focus on helping businesses pivot and adapt to these challenges. In August, we published “Small Business Pivots in the COVID Economy” to help businesses identify opportunities during this period. We deliberately chose not to take our services upmarket and instead doubled down in the trenches to stand by and support the small business community.
Your Business, Post-Pandemic
Vaccines for COVID-19 are being distributed and administered now, and we will see this rollout continue as we head further into the year in hopes of restoring some semblance of normalcy back to our routines and for our small businesses. But what happens when the pandemic ends? How do we push back at the unprecedented losses small businesses faced in 2020? How do we move forward?
2020 was the year of the “new” normal, but 2021 will likely be the year of the “next” normal – where we take our insights and pivots from the last year and we transition them to facilitate long-term solutions and opportunities to increase that small business market share.
But using your small business to reclaim some of that market share for yourself means you need to start planning now. The last year has shown us all that online solutions and digital marketing can make or break your business. But just as every piece of a machine is necessary to make that machine run smoothly, you can’t run every aspect of your small business by yourself.
Does Your Business Need a Shared Marketing Team?
That’s why SharedTEAMS exists – to help further your business’s reach through targeted marketing and advertising programs. Enhance your offerings by combining your expertise with ours – SharedTEAMS wants to provide you with your own skilled team of marketers, designers, and IT professionals.
Interested in learning more about SharedTEAMS? Here’s what you can expect.
2020 wasn’t the year for small businesses – but what if 2021 is?