Prepare for These 4 Business Trends in 2021

2021 business trends graphic featuring a tablet, notepad and pen
Category: Industry Insights

By Matt Rowley
Posted on

Successful business leaders know how important innovation is when creating appealing, lucrative products and services. If your ambition is to create a profitable company capable of reacting to uncertain situations, you’ll need to be daring, creative and aware of the competition; this requires being informed about the market and the trends that shape it.

Between lockdowns, curfews, physical distancing and new hygiene measures, recent business trends have been heavily reliant on internet use, employees working from home, and adjusting to the pandemic economy. So, what are the top business trends to watch out for in 2021, ideally in a post-COVID-19 world?

Savvy business leaders are prepared for massive economic shifts. If you're looking to make your mark amidst these rapid global changes, here are four business trends to consider in 2021.

1. Productivity is Key

American economic growth has been seriously stunted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting lockdowns, and the lengthened processing time of imported products at the borders. The U.S. government has given $2.59 trillion to businesses around the country to support their operations and survival during the pandemic. In exchange, business owners were encouraged to boost productivity as much as possible to compensate for any potential labor force losses.

To build a successful business following the pandemic, entrepreneurs will need to focus on maximizing productivity. Fortunately, advances in technology should support this increase in productivity. Machinery-based production has been optimized by tech improvements in all industries, from car manufacturing to aerospace.

Similarly, the arrival of 5G will facilitate the provision of virtual services. Entrepreneurs are expected to capitalize on these advances to produce more products and services and deliver them with greater speed and efficiency.

2. Resilience to Uncertainty

Constant change and market volatility have become commonplace in the current global economic landscape. Fortunately, the recent shift to algorithm-based decision-making software offers robust protection against these tidal waves flooding business operations.

For example, many businesses that survived the current pandemic restrictions were able to suddenly shift to virtual operations and facilitate employees working from home. Numerous companies also had to switch from serving mostly to international markets to operating solely with a local consumer base. To be a successful business leader, resiliency must be baked into operations to protect the company – and its employees – from the unexpected.

3. Millennials Are Choosing to Go Independent

Contrary to the trend of the late ‘90s and early 2000s, the past few years have seen an increase in the creation of independent businesses. Millennials are to thank for this change, with their ambition to make a name for themselves and run their operations with a strong emphasis on ethics and innovation.

In a 2019 survey by Guidant Financial, 67% of millennial business owners chose to open their own businesses against 33% opting to purchase pre-existing businesses; only 3% invested in franchises. Millennials generally display an optimistic outlook on the future of business in America, attesting to its diversity and the drive and determination of its entrepreneurs.

For students hoping to learn about business, this optimism can translate into a willingness to start their own enterprise as soon as possible. Even while enrolled in school, business leaders can build a company to anticipate the economic boom that will eventually come after the COVID-19 recession subsides.

4. Technology Adoption is Surging

Businesses have responded to the pandemic by adopting digital technologies much faster, and those changes may be long lasting. A McKinsey Global Survey of executives around the world included the following findings:

  • 58% of respondents’ customer interactions were digital in July 2020 compared to just 36% in December 2019.
  • 55% of respondents’ products or services were partially or fully digital in July 2020 compared to just 35% in December 2019.

In the world of retail, Amazon’s success shows the power of offering products online, but e-commerce is just one way retail businesses can use technology. Serving customers through in-app purchases and curbside pickup, using RFID technology to track inventory, and many other technology-reliant strategies that can give retail businesses an edge over their competition.

Prepare for Anything 2021 Throws Your Way

Business is a constant learning process. Entrepreneurs need to be attentive to the market, the industry and their customers’ needs by understanding the latest business trends.

At Columbia Southern University, we offer online business degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels and more than 15 different degree concentrations. Visit our website to learn more.

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