By Peri Kinder

In March of 2020, everyday business practices were dumped on the trash heap. We worked from home in our PJs, eating take-out, and finding ways to pivot our business offerings to fit into the new virtual, socially-distanced landscape.

It was a vast experiment that caused many small businesses to close their doors as they lost customers and connections. Moving into 2021, we’re using those hard-earned lessons to develop brand new business models. Here are some trends happening in companies from Fortune 500s to mom-and-pop shops.

  1. More working from home. As employees set up office space in their homes, employers wondered if the traditional, brick-and-mortar office building was still necessary. Many companies discovered employees enjoyed working from home. With no commute, workers had more free time in their day, which ironically led to a greater sense of freedom – even during the COVID lockdown. Many employers plan to keep their workers virtual – or a mix of in-person and online workdays. In 2021, many employees will look for this benefit while applying for jobs.
  2. Create a virtual experience for customers. The big question of 2020 was how do we keep customers connected to our business? Online shopping went through the roof. People subscribed to online classes in record numbers. So, how can you jump on this trend? What services do you provide that can be done online? Some restaurants offered a virtual “tasting” menu or made videos showing their kitchen preparing meals. Skincare companies invested in programs that created customer avatars that could virtually try on clothes or experiment with hairstyles or make-up.
  3. Find your company’s purpose. As the younger generations take on leadership roles, creating a meaningful purpose might keep them invested in your business. Millennials want to make a difference, and if they feel your mission is aligned with making this world a little better, they’ll be completely on board. If you haven’t tied your mission to a purpose, this is a great year to start. Maybe partner with a non-profit or find a way to bring your product or services to underserved communities.
  4. Generate authentic social content. In 2021, connection is commerce. Tell your story through your social media platforms with authentic content, engaging video, and virtual interaction. Some companies brought their social media creation in-house last year and that will continue as a way to control the narrative. Create a behind-the-scenes series that lets customers meet your team, watch the development of your product, or get to know the CEO. This is also a great time to share your company’s purpose by getting your audience engaged with online events and fundraisers.

2020 taught us to be flexible, creative, adaptive, relatable and to cut out unnecessary meetings, red tape, and disconnection. This year, it’s time to double-down on those practices to keep your business growing. Have fun as you discover a whole new side to your business.

Peri Kinder is a Happiness Coach, Certified Yoga Teacher, Meditation Instructor and Humor Columnist, and the owner of Life & Laughter Coaching