It’s not easy for small businesses to make plans for the future right now. One week the economy is rebounding from covid. The next, a new variant is upending all of our plans for the next quarter.
But, despite the uncertainty, it’s important to look ahead to the trends that will shape the business landscape in 2022 and beyond. Otherwise, it’ll be easy to get stuck in a holding pattern and miss out on the opportunities in front of all of us.
Recently, Jen Kem, a brand futurist and strategist, shared some of her predictions for the coming year. Many are especially helpful to one-person businesses. Here are a handful I found most helpful.
1. “Microbrands” will sizzle. Businesses that focus their content creation on a single social platform—whether it’s YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram or TikTok—will be well-positioned, according to Kem. If you’re looking to get the most out of your efforts, niching down to one platform that you can truly master is more important than posting to four platforms every day.
Although the conventional wisdom is to cast a wide net by posting your messaging across every platform, that creates huge content creation demands. “What people miss about this strategy is it requires you to create then distribute engaging content in whatever style is native to the platform,” says Kem. “If you’re a small business owner, it’s very unlikely you have time to do it yourself or the resources to hire someone to do it for you.”
2. Publishing your “framework” will give you authority. Writing a book, whether it’s traditionally published or self-published, can create instant credibility for your business methods and brand in the eyes of potential customers. “The point of your book isn’t to generate revenue,” she says. “Will it make you some money? Absolutely. However, the real leverage from a book is to create more authority and credibility around your brand.”
3. Hybrid business models for experts will take off. Some clients gravitate to the DIY approach. Others like an expert to help them with whatever it is they are trying to do. Offering a combination of self-paced learning, such as a curriculum you’ve created, and personalized feedback on a weekly or monthly basis will allow them to choose what’s right for them in their journey, says Kem. “Offers that implement this hybrid approach will encourage clients to find greater success, which creates more results, which, in turn, attracts more people who want to be a client.”
4. “Brandcraft” will be essential. Businesses that focus on their brand’s craft—and let customers see the process of creating the work—will be in the hottest demand, according to Kem. If you run a bakery, for instance, creating a video showing how you make one of your signature cakes can go a long way.
“As much as entrepreneurship is about freedom and being in control of your life, it’s about finding and doing something that fulfills you,” notes Kem. “Consumers can see when you have a real passion for your craft. When that passion comes through, people are even more likely to want to work with you.”
5. Consumers will flock to “mirror” brands. Consumers want more than just to be part of an online community of people who buy from a brand. What they’re really seeking are “mirror” brands “with a community of people that whole heartedly engage with the brand and each other,” says Kem. She considers Harley-Davidson, Twitch, and Etsy to be good examples of brand with a glue that binds customers together.
Fortunately, social media makes it easier for small businesses to create a mirror brand. “Platforms like Tiktok and Instagram have created an opportunity for people to be blown away by the process of doing the work,” says Kem. “As excited as people are to buy the end product, many love to experience the process of creating that product.”
What better way to grow your business than by sharing your genuine passion for what you do?