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Regardless of industry, the small business world is ever-changing. In 2020, we saw resilient small business owners shift their offerings and operations in the wake of COVID-19. In 2021 and 2022, we saw the ripple effect of this adaptability and a renewed interest in shopping small and locally. Now, we’re looking ahead at small business trends to see how things will continue shifting in 2023.
We surveyed 1000 Australian small business owners on their outlook for the year ahead and also spoke to Andrew Grill, a leading futurist, who has predicted key trends that will impact small businesses over the next five years.
So, what’s on the horizon?
Small business owners in Australia acknowledge that 2022 was tough, with 35% of respondents in our survey describing it as difficult and 30% calling it exhausting. Some of the biggest challenges faced were operating expenses (56%), pandemic closures (33%) wages and salaries (27%) and supply chain issues (22%).
However, positivity remains for the year ahead, with nearly one-in-two (48%) feeling optimistic about 2023.Nationally, small businesses will be focusing on growth (58%), recovery from 2022 (43%) and their marketing efforts (28%).
Want to get ready for growth? Here are 4 ways you can prepare your small business for a strong start in the new year — and beyond, according to Futurist Andrew Gill:
- Look for new opportunities and learn as much as you can.
- Embrace change.
- Revamp (or create!) your online presence.
- Focus on social media marketing.
1. Look for new opportunities and learn as much as you can.
Andrew suggests that small business owners take time to brush up on their digital skills, whether that means enrolling in a course or finding a mentor in your industry. A sentiment echoed by small business owners; 40% of our survey respondents said they’d upskill in 2023. Adding to your skill set now will pay off later, especially in a constantly changing world. In
Another way to prove your adaptability and reactivity is to look for and create new opportunities. During the peak of the pandemic, we saw all kinds of small businesses adapt — like a spin studio offering virtual classes and renting out their bikes to local riders. Whether you jump on a TikTok trend or take advantage of a local event, seize any opportunity that makes sense for your business.
Professional partnerships are also key in creating new opportunities. Whether you sell another maker’s products in your online shop or join forces with local fitness studios to host a pop-up, there are lots of ways to support other small businesses in your community — and boost your own business. In fact, 24% of the Aussie small business owners we surveyed said they’d be focusing on networking opportunities this year.
2. Embrace change.
When looking to the future, Andrew suggests that small business owners start experimenting with new technology. He also recommends exploring how automation can transform physical spaces and processes. This lines up with the goals Aussie small business owners are setting for the new year. A quarter (26%) are looking to learn new technical and digital skills in augmented and virtual reality, automation, data and IT.
3. Revamp (or create!) your online presence.
Whether you haven’t updated your website since you set up shop five years ago or don’t yet have a website, the new year is a great time to prioritise it. Think of your site as a digital storefront, and use it to recreate the feeling of your in-store experience. Your site should be more than a virtual store — include an about page, customer testimonials and high-quality photography. Also, make sure your site has all the information potential customers need, like contact details and opening hours. 13% of Aussie small business owners will be investing in their websites this year.
If you need help designing or redesigning your small business website, the experts at 99designs by Vista are here to lend a hand.
4. Focus on social media marketing.
Social media is a great free marketing tool for all kinds of small businesses — whether you use it to showcase new products, connect with customers or run giveaways. During the peak of the pandemic, small business owners told us they used this time at home to prioritise their social media presence, whether with higher-quality product photography on Instagram or live Q&A videos on Facebook. Small business owners also told us they’ve experimented with low-cost advertising options on social media and Google ads — great options if you’re willing to spend a little bit of money – and 30% will be investing most of their marketing spend into social media specifically in 2023.
Create thumb-stopping, eye-catching social media posts with VistaCreate. Find a template that you love, then customise it with your logo and brand colours.
Future-proofing hacks based on your industry.
Futurist Andrew Gill, notes that the pandemic has permanently shifted consumer behaviour and sparked a reset in the way small businesses operate. And because small businesses have proven to be so agile, they’re well-positioned to take advantage of this shift.
Here’s what he thinks the future looks like for these small business industries in the next five years:
- The fitness industry should be ready to embrace virtual reality wearables as well as continued at-home workouts and equipment.
- Creatives and makers should look out for expanded, accessible 3D printing.
- Home improvement specialists can expect an increase in on-demand and customisable offerings and should also look out for 3D printing solutions for spare parts.
- In the wellness space, Andrew believes most consumers will be using some sort of wearable technology to get real-time insights into their health. He also predicts an increase in ‘digital pills’ that can help improve voice assistants.
- Restaurants and cafes should expect a rapid adoption of robotics and automation in food and beverage prep.