Now that the COVID-19 crisis that gripped the world for nearly two solid years seems to be winding down, despite its many variants, the way people due business will go back to normal. Correction, you would expect businesses to go back to normal. But the truth of the matter is this: businesses, especially SMBs or small to mid-sized businesses, will likely return to a “new normal.”
From dental marketing consultant businesses to small contracting outfits to mom-and-pop, brick-and-mortar flower shops, companies will have to make adjustments in the way they interact with their customer base. According to a new business report, the pandemic has been a plague on small and mid-sized businesses for two years and its many variants continue to be an ongoing problem. While the number of overall deaths is dwindling, people are still getting sick.
Nonetheless, companies must reopen in 2022, if they have not already opened their doors, should they expect to survive going forward. By the looks of it, there are few or none of the government cash subsidies that were being handed out like Halloween candy in late 2020 and most of 2021.
Despite the reduction of mask mandates and social distancing, business owners are still concerned with keeping customers and their employees safe from both exposure and infection. Simply said, a business, big or small, cannot survive if its employees and customers are sick.
That said, there are some positive ways that COVID-19 can affect SMBs in 2022 and beyond.
High Tech will Bridge Gaps in Employment
Small and medium-sized business owners will seek out business software that will allow them to do much more with fewer employees on staff. For instance, self-checkout options are now available for lots of retail customers. These options are designed not only for customer convenience but as a means of keeping customers safe and in compliance with ongoing federal and state safety regulations.
On the other hand, online ordering opportunities have spiked as more and more people continue to work at home and/or embrace a hybrid model of part-time at home/part-time at the workplace. Say the experts, investment in intelligent technology should “ease the pain” of staff shortages without sacrificing overall customer shopping or service experience.
With big businesses already turning to automating certain roles to get more production out of their workers, you might not wish to install order/payment or self-checkout kiosks quite yet. But you might offer shopper incentives for online orders that will be established directly with a kitchen or a warehouse.
Customers receive their orders as soon as they arrive.
Community Banks will Take Over Business Lending
With Federal PPP SMB loans now finished, community banks, online lenders, crypto platforms, and credit unions will be the go-to places to access business capital in 2022. Traditional, centralized banks were rather reluctant to lend funds at the height of the pandemic which made it very difficult for SMBs to expand.
But approval rates are expected to rise as consumer spending and the economy slowly bounces back. With business owners have experienced a rough two years having to put up with COVID-19 restrictions, many are looking to alternative funding sources as opposed to traditional bank business loans. For instance, those who own cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin can borrow against their balances at interest rates the legacy bankers can’t possibly compete with.
The Return of the Brick-And-Mortar Store
Experts predict that brick-and-mortar small-business retailers will re-emerge from the darkness as it were, while customers realize it’s a lot quicker and more convenient to head to the store and/or engage in a curbside pickup rather than wait several days for online orders. After all, the supply chain crisis is still ongoing and it often takes up to a week just to have something simple like a paperback book delivered to your doorstep (eBooks, however, are delivered instantly).
SMB retailers who place a large emphasis on customer services such as pharmacies, dental practices, coffee shops, and more should be poised for a good, safe year in 2022.
Supply Chain Issues and Hiring Shortages will Continue
Sadly, supply chain issues and hiring shortages are likely to continue well into 2022 and perhaps 2023. Business owners will work hard on retaining their existing workers. Those who have lost employees for one reason or another will have to come up with a strategy to attract new talent.
With the Great Resignation said to be in “full effect,” the pool of existing taken has never run deeper.