Small Business Trends and What They Mean for 2021

October 22, 2020

Small business trends are emerging during the pandemic. Here is what we can expect to see happening in certain sectors in 2021.

Image of a line graph showing a red line, moving up and down with no pattern or trend, with an arrow at the end.

The year 2020 has been a record year for change.  We’ve experienced an unprecedented worldwide pandemic, labor processes turned upside down, and radical change in awareness of racial injustice.  Without a doubt, we have been learning countless lessons along the way.  To add to it, we still have nearly a quarter of the year to go, and a major election between now and the new year.  As this change unfolds, we are keeping our eyes on small business trends, and analyzing what they mean for you in 2021.

Trends – What Has Changed

Better than questioning what has changed, maybe more appropriate, “What hasn’t changed?”  However, that would be an unremarkable list, because it seems like we’ve done more adjusting than maintaining.  Status quo is pretty much out the window.  So, here are some things that have undoubtedly caused us to pivot, and that are playing a role in small business trends.


Image of a person working from home writing in a notebook in front of a computer, as trends show more remote employees in 2020.
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First, more people are working from home.  While statistics estimate over 4.5 million people were already working from home prior to the pandemic, the ratio of remote employees has increased proportionately.  This is due to a majority of companies worldwide mandating remote work where possible.  This trend is apparent in large and small businesses alike.


Second, parents are choosing different forms of education for their children than had previously been considered.  Not only are we seeing trends of people fleeing public education, we are seeing new options emerge.  These new choices come as a result of fear of contracting and spreading the virus, or the desire for students to remain in an in-person school setting, should their institution be closed.


Third, people are more aware of healthcare options and benefits than they had been before the pandemic.  Whether choosing healthcare for various medical issues or paying for health insurance, people are more mindful of costs.  Previously, many workers either received benefits through their employer or decided to forgo insurance altogether because of the high cost or they felt “healthy enough.”  However, the pandemic has shown trends of increased awareness of all things health related.


Finally, while some people have the blessing of working from home, there are many people who are unemployed altogether.  This trend comes as no surprise, considering how many businesses either went belly-up or began operating in a lesser capacity due to the pandemic.  The approximate unemployment rate was 7.9% in September, which is nearly double what it had been in the two years past.

Related:  Hindsight is 2020: New Year Goal Setting for Businesses

This is obviously an abbreviated list of things that have changed, but these are surely changes linked to small business trends.

Trends – The Impact of Changes

Now, recognizing these changes, the impact doesn’t stop there.  With the change comes a ripple effect of other things that will also be affected.  Believe it or not, there is good news among all this uncertainty.  Specifically, many forward-thinkers are seeing opportunities for the new needs that have arisen.  Here are the small business trends we are seeing, which are sure to continue into 2021.


As so many workers are staying home, we are seeing the need for specific mobile electronic capabilities.  Small businesses specializing in computer sales, repair, and troubleshooting have a great opportunity here.  If the trend in 2020 is any indicator of how important this industry is, then 2021 will follow suit.


Photo of a teacher on a laptop with students from her virtual class looking at her, as trends show an increase in options for education in 2020.

In the education space, we mentioned new learning options.  Virtual learning, homeschooling, learning pods have thrust into the arena, and it’s doubtful they will go away.  Businesses specializing in ways to foster education outside the traditional school setting are a promising trend for 2021.


Sadly, we’ve seen U.S. hospitals filled to the brim with COVID cases.  Therefore, it’s especially necessary for alternatives to those locations for people to get routine care.  Healthcare businesses offering telehealth appointments is a trend that is certainly showing an uptick.  Not only is it essential to utilize smaller businesses certified to offer health screenings, but there’s more.  Businesses specializing in sanitizing and disinfecting said healthcare offices are also essential.


While many sectors of the labor force are struggling, small recruiting and headhunting companies are zeroing in on the sectors that are thriving.  They are recognizing trends showing the need for tech-savvy individuals who are available and ready to work.  With this in mind, they are getting creative in reaching workers to fill their candidate pool.  Besides the usual, they are increasingly turning to social media sites to get the job done.

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Photo of two construction workers discussing plans.

We can’t mention small business trends for 2021 without pointing out that builders and contractors are seeing an increase in opportunities.  With people working from home, they are noticing things about their houses that they’d like to improve, and therefore reaching out to architects and contractors.  Also, doctors’ offices are getting creative in creating separation between areas where the do COVID testing and areas with routine care. Those offices need skilled workers to do the job effectively.  So, that’s where these architects and contractors are also seeing more business.

No Small Change

If I had to say, the word of the year is “change.”  And I don’t mean small change—it’s lots of big changes.  With these changes, small business trends are showing some great possibilities and promises in certain sectors.  Whether it’s the workplace, education, or healthcare, small business can keep an eye on trends in order to pivot and adapt to the changes that come.  Being flexible and ready to adjust is key to staying in business despite the uncertainty.  So, keep your eyes open, and look for even more opportunities that are sure to present themselves as we transition into 2021.

Photo of a wooden sign hanging from a door with the word CHANGE carved into it.

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