Most businesses have endured an unprecedented 2020 followed by an unpredictable 2021. But what kind of mark has this left on their expectations and plans for the 12 months ahead? Are you optimistic, positive and determined to grow in 2022, or are you cautious and nervous about the months ahead?
In part four of the Azimo Business special report, we’re looking at what your competitors are planning in the new year.
Our survey revealed that nearly 10% of small and micro-business owners are extremely confident of growth in 2022. The majority of business owners report a confidence level of 8/10. Only 2.6% said they were not confident at all and even less (1.8%) rated their confidence at just 1/10.
This suggests that, despite a difficult start to the decade, 2022 could well be the year of opportunity. But how can your business unlock that opportunity and what might be standing in your way?
Opportunities for small businesses
Charlotte Sheridan, founder of the marketing agency Small Biz Expert, explains why it’s such an exciting period: “We’re seeing a re-adjustment at the moment. Lots of small businesses that had their growth plans in 2021 knocked back are finally getting to a point where they can put them into action. They have had the time and breathing space to adapt and are feeling positive about the year ahead.”
Growth in a world that’s learning to live with Covid
There’s no escaping the Covid conversation because, as we are reminded on a regular basis, the pandemic is still very much a part of life. While Covid is seen as a threat by many businesses, it’s very much an opportunity for others.
Our survey showed that more than a third (38.7%) of the small businesses saw Covid as a threat to growth in 2022 – but 16% felt that Covid is their biggest opportunity.
It’s clear that the pandemic has created opportunity for some businesses and in many cases forced them to think creatively about how they build and grow.
The high street shops that have launched online stores to replace and bolster their local customer base, and the events companies that have switched to Zoom to host things like courses, seminars and even live music gigs.
One plumbing service now conducts virtual consultations to deliver a better, more efficient service from both a cost and convenience perspective.
Sheridan agrees: “There are lots of success stories coming out of Covid-19 and many of our clients have found new revenue streams that they never would have considered before. If anything, the pandemic has made certain small businesses more receptive to a bigger audience.”
For some, these changes were temporary shifts to drive new revenue streams. In other cases, this entrepreneurial mindset has helped them discover long term, sustainable business practises.
Denmon’S, a Bath-based shoe repair and key cutting service, has built a strong, local reputation for high quality work via its high street presence and excellent level of referrals.
However, when the business was forced to temporarily close during Covid it was immediately cut off from its local audience.
The owner started to think about how they could rely less on local trade and instead start to attract an audience further afield. As a result, the business has a new eCommerce website that allows customers to send their shoes and certain bags to the workshop for repair. They can also take part in video consultations, all from the comfort of their own home.
“We’re certainly feeling optimistic about 2022,” explains Simon Wilson of Denmon’S. “Like many businesses, this has been something of a wakeup call and an opportunity for us to think differently about how customers, no matter where they are, get access to our excellent service.
“Why should we be exclusive to Bath? Emerging technology means we can access a wider audience with little effort,” he adds.
The transition and evolution of businesses like Denmon’S is clearly having a knock-on effect in terms of increased competition. Nearly a fifth of small businesses (18.1%) claim that increased competition from further afield is a threat to their future growth.
What’s more, emerging technology was the highest scoring reason for optimism among small businesses in 2022. More than a third (35.4%) said this was the driving force behind their growth plans for the year ahead.
More in the series
Enjoyed part four of this special report? Great. You’ll find more in the series below.