You might be surprised to learn that 74% of small business owners, freelancers and sole traders are confident of growth in 2022.
If you’re part of that majority, what’s fuelling that optimism and where do the opportunities for your business lie?
In part three of the Azimo Business special report, we’re talking about managing growth within your company
Charlotte Sheridan, founder of Small Biz Expert, said that many businesses are now activating the development plans they put on hold in 2021.
“The challenge now for businesses will be spotting and taking advantage of the opportunities that will fuel growth. That could be anything from recruiting new talent to trying alternative growth channels such as influencer marketing.”
The great resignation
Covid has undeniably changed the business landscape for everyone. Although 38% of small business owners still see Covid as the biggest threat to growth in 2022, about 16% see it as the biggest opportunity for growth – but why is that?
It could be related to available talent in the recruitment space.
In November, the recruitment firm Randstad UK reported that almost a quarter of workers are planning to change employers in the next few months. Many reported feeling burnt out from working at the same company through the pandemic.
The Great Resignation, as it’s been dubbed, is flooding the employment market with talented people who are looking for more flexible working conditions. Many will be a perfect match for smaller businesses who are seeking part-time or contract workers.
The appetite for recruitment is undeniable. More than a fifth (24.5%) of small business owners told us they would “definitely” look to expand their marketing team in 2022. A further 38.2% said they “probably” would while just 7.5% said “definitely not”.
When pushed on the specialism of potential recruits in 2022, the top answer was a web developer (42.5%), closely followed by a search engine optimisation (SEO) specialist (39.4%). But the increase in staff working from home has also led to a reduction in costs associated with office life, freeing up revenue that can be spent elsewhere.
Which presents yet another opportunity for the small business community. Company owners can start thinking carefully about how to spend some of that saved money, and technology is one area for investment.
Not only has technology galvanised the ‘work from anywhere’ culture, it’s made businesses think more creatively about operations. It’s no surprise that 35% of small business owners are looking to emerging technology to help them grow.
Technology driving growth
Changes in workplace practises have allowed small businesses to cast a wider net by offering services that have previously only been available in-person. In this report we saw how Bath-based shoe repairers Denmon’S was able to attract business from further afield via their new eCommerce website.
As well as widening your reach, there are other advantages to doing business online. Take, for instance, the plumbing service that has improved efficiency and customer satisfaction by offering virtual consultations.
Don’t forget the fundamentals
That’s not to say that these digital alternatives should come at the expense of traditional business values. We’ve seen in previous segments how influencers, online strategy and content writing can help to humanise your business.
Technology is not something to hide behind. Rather it can be used to boost your reputation as a personable, approachable and trustworthy business. Nor should technology replace tried and trusted methods. For example, when asked where they would get the most return for their marketing budget, 15% of small business owners said offline advertising such as local newspapers and other publications.
They were also very keen to point out that networking, local word of mouth and spending time with prospective clients remain important avenues for growth in 2022.
These different opportunities for growth, and the others discussed throughout this report, help to explain why 10% of small business owners are feeling “extremely confident” about 2022 whereas only 2.6% describe themselves as being “not confident at all”.
And, who can blame that small but significant number of businesses feeling concerned about the future?
The unpredictability of the last few years is stabilising – but unlikely to disappear entirely. You can certainly understand those with a more anxious outlook. But businesses can take some comfort in the fact that they, along with the entire small business community, have become more resilient as a direct result.
So, then, to you. Despite the ever-changing landscape, are you feeling optimistic, positive and proactive as we start 2022? If so, you’re part of the confident 74%.
The Great Resignation may have helped you assemble a talented team for the new year, while new technology could bring your product and service to a whole new marketplace.
With these factors in place, you’re confident enough to explore new channels of growth and continue 2022 equipped to weather any kind of storm.
More in the series
Enjoyed part three this special report? Great. You’ll find more in the series below.
- Part 1: The companies saying ‘no’ to a website.
- Part 2: A great copywriter is your secret weapon.
- Part 4: What is your competition planning for 2022?
- Part 5: How an influencer can benefit your business.