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Business Trends 2021

Whilst 2020 was a shocker of a year on so many levels and many of us spent a large part of the last 12 months in a state of disbelief, our job as business owners is to now figure out based upon what has happened and is happening what might be coming next. After all the only constant is change!

I have turned to the recent thoughts of a futurist called Bernard Marr who set out what he sees as the key trends for 2021. By all means read his full article [1], however for the time-poor herewith is a snapshot of what we think the top 3 trends could be:

  1. Working from Home and Business Model Innovation

The trend of working from home was already underway, however COVID-19 has put it on steroids. We think this is likely to move from an offering that the more enlightened and trendy employers offered before COVID-19 to the new standard option as many employees will seek this kind of flexibility as standard. The greater connectivity and increased use of video conferencing is driving a massive rethink in the way we work and how we can optimise our time.

This trend is feeding into business model innovation – how can we organise and re-organise our resources to better deliver our products and services? Many of the things COVID-19 is driving us to are better and easier ways of doing things – this is a big subject but the more widespread adoption of technology even by the luddites among us is ushering in significant changes in many sectors.

One of our team is moving 500 kilometres up the coast to establish himself and his young family in an environment he believes will be more supportive to a growing family. He also believes this will allow him to be just as effective as living in the city – we don’t disagree. Good luck to him as he navigates 40% increases to regional real estate prices in some areas! During turbulent times eventually things find their level, including real estate prices!

For our part we are investing heavily in technology to ensure he and others can work remotely and effectively. Staff, management, and clients are open as never before to changes in the way we deliver our products and services. Let us not waste this window by reverting to what we have always done out of old habits.

  1. Purposeful and Meaningful

Employees are driving this trend to establishing greater meaning and purpose in and through their work. The need to attract future talent demands that we as business owners answer the “Why” question regarding why we do what we do, and how that then fits into the greater societal good. Not only are employees demanding answers to these higher-level questions but so are a growing number of our customers and clients.

Leaders must establish and then clearly articulate the purpose and meaning in what they do to stay relevant.

  1. Going from Global to Local

We agree with Marr on this as we are seeing the results of COVID-19 on supply chains as well as on attitudes. Globalisation for its own sake is being questioned as local alternatives are being sought where there is less likelihood of disruption. Trade as a geopolitical football is already having a devastating effect on some sectors in Australia.

Our work in manufacturing is allowing us to see this trend deliver opportunities to smaller niche manufacturers as businesses re-think their supply chain.

No doubt there will be many other trends that feature in 2021. Marr lists several others: data as an asset, automation, decentralised finance, virtual interfaces, sustainability, and social engagement. Our job as owners and leaders is not necessarily to predict the future but to intelligently interpret the signs of the times and then see what we can do to improve our business offerings for both staff and customers.

We will continue to look at and comment on the new trends emerging as the changes resulting from 2020 start to manifest in 2021 and beyond.

Good luck as you wrestle with what the new year brings.

[1] The 10 Biggest Business Trends For 2021 Everyone Must Be Ready For, David Marr, 7th December 2020

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