Small business owners see 2021 as an opportunity to bounce back and rebuild from nearly a year of losses caused by the coronavirus. Entrepreneurship is growing at a record pace in 2021, with more than 4.6 million new business applications filed through October 2021, according to business formation statistics from the United States Census Bureau. So, what happens in 2022 for small business owners? Will supply chain problems be easy? Will the recruitment be picked up? And what is available for business loans in the absence of the Small Business Administration’s two main COVID-19 assistance programs?
Technology is Bridging the Employment Gap
Small business owners will flock to business technologies that allow them to do more with fewer employees. This may mean more table booking and checkout technology in bars and restaurants and more self-payment options for retail customers. QR code menus in restaurants persist, even if COVID-19 precautions fail. Many restaurants have found that digital menus allow them to update items and prices more easily, as they don’t have to reprint the menu each time. They also allow the restaurant to function with a smaller front-of-house staff.
Business Loans Increase, Community Banks Lead
Small businesses can expect more access to capital in 2022. Banks are pulling back on business loans amid COVID-19, tightening lending criteria and even discontinuing traditional lending to focus on Payroll Protection Program loans. Small business loan approval rates will continue to rise as the economy and consumer spending recover, especially for businesses working with community banks and nonbank lenders.
The Year of the Brick and Mortar
Small brick and mortar business retailers will shine when consumers learn that it’s often quicker to get to the store or pick up curbside pick-up than to wait days or weeks for delivery from a beleaguered shipper. Consider adding a “buy online, pick up in-store” option to your ecommerce platform to attract more customers to your business.
Managing customer expectations will remain very important. In the midst of supply chain crises, inflation, and labor shortages, what business owners can give customers in 2022 will not look the same as what they provided in 2019. Customers may come with longer delivery times, larger product lines. smaller, and perhaps even higher prices, but it’s important to communicate those changes clearly as we move toward some kind of new normal.
Supply Chain, Hiring Misery Continues
Supply issues have become a major problem for small businesses while relief is still a long way off. Business owners need to find ways to be creative and agile with their processes, either by working with multiple suppliers or by trying to streamline their inventory catalog. For small business owners who have successfully hired new people in 2021, it’s time to start thinking about how to keep those workers through 2022. For those who have lost employees, think about what changes can be made to attract new employees.
Some of the COVID changes are permanent
New restaurants should incorporate takeaway options into their business model. While this has been awarded for full-service restaurants, it is not always a consideration for businesses such as breweries or bottling businesses.