After the turmoil of 2020, many entrepreneurs are optimistic that 2021 will be a great year for their businesses, as treatments for the coronavirus continue to improve and the vaccine rollout ramps up.
Recently, I turned to Jen Kem, a brand futurist and strategic brand advisor, for her predictions on the trends one-person businesses need to focus on now to succeed. Here are five to help your business grow.
#1: Online businesses will see 3X growth
As Kem sees it, if you are doing $50,000 in online sales right now, your minimum sales potential is $150,000 in 2021. We’ve all seen how quickly both businesses and consumers have gravitated to buying and selling online. That’s just the beginning.
This doesn’t only apply to online-only businesses. If you have a business that is both online and offline, it’s a good time to double down on the online side. “Get better at brand experience,” says Kem. “Brand experience is going to be more important than basic marketing. You have to build a reason for customers to stay.”
This prediction is good news for owners of one-person businesses and tiny businesses—who are in a position to improve the user experience on their websites quickly, without going through layers of bureaucracy. If e-commerce is not your core strength, there are lots of pros out there who can help you improve your web design, copy and payment experience. Do a search on LinkedIn or sites like Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, or PeoplePerHour to find freelance talent.
#2: Women will flock to online business
More than 2.1 million women left the workforce between February 2020 and December 2020, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Many women lost their jobs while others quit voluntarily as they juggled the crushing demands that the pandemic placed on caregivers—whether it was keeping their families healthy or helping younger children with online or hybrid school. With those demands continuing and some employers unable or unwilling to accommodate parents’ ongoing need for flexibility, those who need or want to earn a living are gravitating to running online businesses.
Kem says there are two routes women entrepreneurs will take: One is the “expert” path, where they consult, coach or write in their area of expertise. Others will gravitate to e-commerce, in areas like hand-crafted products. “That will be their first foray into selling goods and services, probably with the intent of building some type of brand for themselves,” she says.
#3: LinkedIn and YouTube will become the places to build the presence of expert-based online businesses
If you are looking to establish your presence as an expert online, the ideal platforms right now are YouTube and LinkedIn, according to Kem. Each has particular strengths.
As one of the world’s largest search engines, YouTube is a great place to post video and audio content that will deepen your relationship with people who already like your work or are hunting for content like yours by keyword.
“YouTube is an I’ve-been-searching-for-you platform,” says Kem. “It’s also the easiest to create content on, if you are not a Gen Z-er or younger.”
LinkedIn is ideal for experts who can offer companies solutions, such as coaching and trauma therapy, to help team members get through the pandemic, according to Kem. “Companies are worried they are going to lose their people,” says Kem. “They’re asking: How can I set up an experience and environment for them to still work here?”
Although Facebook works well for people who already have a strong following , it is harder and more expensive to get attention than in the past, she explains.
Plus, consumer preferences have changed. “Facebook is interruption marketing,” says Kem. “People don’t want to be interrupted.”
#4. Building “1,000 true fans” will be more important than ever
The 1,000 fans don’t all have to be people who are paying you. Some can be people who read your posts on social media for free. “A percentage of those people are going to buy your stuff,” she says.
If you post on LinkedIn, consistency will help raise your visibility on the platform, she finds. Don’t worry if you lack original content to share. “Look for other interesting value-added content,” she says. “Do it daily. You don’t have to make it hard. At the end of the year, you’ll have a body of work.”
#5. “Hybrid” courses will take off
After a year of online everything, many people are tired of digital courses. “People are course-d out, overwhelmed,” says Kem. “They are tired. They don’t want to be on the computer all day.”
If you have something to teach, 2021 will be the year for the hybrid model, where you offer everything someone needs to learn it in one place. In this model,” says Kem, “the course is the foundation of the experience. You are adding coaching or consulting to it,” she says. “People will pay more for that.”
Ultimately, there will be many opportunities for the one-person business in 2o21. Staying on top of trends like the growth of online commerce and the ascendance of LinkedIn and YouTube are great ways to position yourself for success.