How COVID-19 Affects Current Business Trends

How COVID-19 Affects Current Business Trends

by Mike Lambert

The recent COVID-19 pandemic and resulting public health orders have closed or limited operations for small businesses throughout the state, creating uncertainty among both consumers and business owners. As the country begins to reopen, business owners are rethinking their operations and looking for examples of how they can operate in this uncharted business environment.

As the manager of the Wyoming SBDC Network’s Market Research Center, one of my jobs is to keep an eye on business trends impacting businesses in Wyoming. The list below are my bets for trends that will help you, your business, and our state adapt to a reopened economy.

#1 – Remote Workers

Remote work, especially for office workers is fast becoming common place. Remote workers don’t generally work 100% of the time from home or a remote location but allowing workers to work remotely two or three days a week gives both the worker and the business added flexibility. Younger workers find this type of flexibility important and studies show that remote workers put in a full day’s work or more. It also helps small businesses, who can’t always afford to hire a full-time person for a special project but by hiring a temporary person can fill an immediate need.

#2 – The Gig Economy

In addition to working remotely, about a third of workers (and especially younger workers) are involved in the gig economy. Many workers have a “side hustle” or secondary job. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses this way, but estimates indicate that it is not just business owners as 36% of workers are in the gig economy. With Wyoming’s independent mindset, it is likely that more of our workers will like the flexibility of the gig economy. The chart from Gallup below shows what traditional, contingent gig and independent gig workers think.

#3 – Employee Happiness

Businesses are increasingly focusing on employee happiness. Keeping your best workers is no longer simply reliant on competitive wages, so companies are focusing on boosting morale and engagement while retaining top performers.

“Businesses [will be] focusing on employee engagement and happiness. Because unemployment is at historic lows, keeping employees engaged and happy is critical to retaining good people. Furthermore, many people are unhappy with the state of our country and the world right now. Keeping them happier at work … boosts productivity 10 to 25 percent.”

– Scott Crabtree, chief happiness officer at Happy Brain Science

While the quote was written pre-pandemic, when unemployment was low, the principles of employee engagement and satisfaction still hold true.

#4 – E-Commerce is Dominating

E-Commerce is expected to reach around $5 trillion in the next few years. Many retailers are moving from brick and mortar storefronts to online stores. If you aren’t online, how confident are you that your physical store will be able to continue to succeed?

Other trends that Wyoming businesses need to consider are the growth of the “green market”, the increasing importance of online user reviews, the shift to “stories (short video content that disappears after 24 hours)”, the fact that personalized customer service is vital, and the need to address the way you need to reach younger consumers. The only thing that seems to be constant in today’s business world is that change is constant! What do you see changing with your business this year? Let us know in the comments.

Help is Available

If you would like to learn more about what trends will impact Wyoming in 2020 and how you can apply this to your small business, contact your local Wyoming SBDC Network advisor for no-cost, confidential assistance by clicking here.

About the author: In over 16 years Mike has built an information resource for Wyoming businesses that is unique in the nation. The Wyoming SBDC Network’s Market Research Center specializes in providing any Wyoming business with access to advanced marketing information that was previously available only to a few of the largest corporations. Mike’s individual expertise also includes marketing, product management, product development, international trade and export.