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My top six predictions for 2022

by Holly

How many times in the last two years have you heard somebody say, “The world’s gone mad!”? As soon as we’ve got a handle on something, something else seems to change doesn’t it? It seems like in times of uncertainty, we all tend to crave a sense of control over our lives. Especially when it comes to our businesses as this will have a major impact on what we choose to focus on, or more importantly, invest our precious time and money in. 

There are many among us who had just launched a catering business or wedding accessories brand when the pandemic first hit for example, and had to pivot pretty bloody quickly. 

The good news? I think there are some patterns emerging that give us at least some indication of what’s likely to come in the year ahead and what customers are likely to be focusing on or interested in, to help us better prepare. So raincoats on gang, let’s get forecasting. Here’s a roundup of my top six predictions for 2022…

Prediction 1: We’ll all care more about sustainability and ethics

Did you know that despite the pandemic, between 2019 and 2020, there was a 32% increase in the number of B Corp businesses in the UK¹. And it looks like this has only continued to rise. If you’re not aware, B Corps are enterprises that balance profit with purpose, that aim to give back in some way and help build a sustainable economy that benefits the many, not the few. 

Consumers want to vote with their money. Our demand for, and expectations of, brands’ ethical commitments are evolving. It’s no longer enough just to add a recycling symbol onto something you’ve made. We want to see businesses bring about real, tangible, positive change through every touchpoint. We want to see measurable, transparent and consistent actions. Especially if we’re under 25, as according to Deloitte, brand activism really matters to this audience. In fact, ‘climate change’ and ‘protecting the environment’ ranked as the top personal concerns among Gen Z adults worldwide in February 2021².

We’re also seeing a rise in resale marketplaces which doesn’t surprise me. The RealReal, Poshmark, and Depop were disrupters that caused so much of a stir that established retailers like Lululemon, Ikea and Urban Outfitters have all now launched resale initiatives to compete.

What does this mean for your business?

This doesn’t mean you need to change your business overnight if you can’t afford to. It means you need to be open and honest with your customers, and most importantly, keep trying to do everything you can to be kind to the planet and aim for better. 

 

What move-ons can you try this year? Think about changes you could make to your packaging, the charities you could support, the way you treat your team, for example. What products could you create to benefit society or the planet? How can you be more transparent to customers? Could you start a resale arm to your own business perhaps? Could you aim to become a B Corp even? I’ve been lucky enough to have some great chats on my Conversations of Inspiration podcast that could help give you ideas, from Pip & Nut and Edward Perry to the brilliant Pukka Tea.

Prediction 2: Employees will be looking for a better work/life balance

I believe that many people start small businesses because they’re looking for ‘The Good Life’ where rather than fighting with each other, the different areas of your life blend and become one. So it didn’t surprise me that 2021 saw what US university professor Anthony Klotz predicted would be ‘The Great Resignation’ — a mass exodus of people leaving jobs that were burning them out. In the UK, Companies House figures show that there were 15% more company registrations in the first six months of 2021 compared to the same periods in 2020 and 2019³.

People seem to be wanting to work smarter, not harder, and to reallocate more time and energy to their own lives, dreams and priorities. I think part of the reason for this is that, with more businesses struggling financially and making redundancies or not replacing leavers, it stands to reason that there are generally fewer people doing more work, and for longer hours. 

Plus one of the greatest lessons that companies learnt in Lockdown was that for many jobs, people really can work from anywhere. This has helped with life balance when it comes to things like not missing children’s bedtimes or being in to get the boiler fixed without needing time off. 

Similarly, Airbnb reported a trend in people staying in rented properties for longer; working from there as well as holidaying, so blending the two. However as many of us know, the challenge can be that we experience the feeling of not being able to switch off.

Consumers want to vote with their money. Our demand for, and expectations of, brands’ ethical commitments are evolving. It’s no longer enough just to add a recycling symbol onto something you’ve made. We want to see businesses bring about real, tangible, positive change through every touchpoint.

What does this mean for your business?

How can you tap into what people are thinking and feeling? Are there products you could make that would help support them? Plus some small businesses now want to take the summer off themselves, and finish earlier in December. Is this something you might aim to do perhaps? How could you reprioritise your time or budget to allow for this? This how to make your income last year round article might help as might my Volume Down approach to August, which wasn’t easy but really helped me. Plus at Holly & Co, we’ll be talking lots more about this throughout the year so watch this space.

Prediction 3: Our own environments will matter more than ever

As our work and home lives are changing, it’s likely we’ll want to evolve our environments more thoroughly to reflect this. When the pandemic first hit, many of us rushed out to get desks and pen pots for home, and many a box room was turned into a makeshift office space. Then, as we all started swapping backache stories, we invested in proper chairs and so on. 

And with the drastic drop in holidays, those of us with gardens suddenly wanted to make the most of them. Frank and I turned ours into a real outside room and it’s really opened up the house for us. 

As we’re spending so much more time at home now, the way we use our environments will continue to evolve this year and we’ll really need them to work well for us to benefit our mental health and give rise to creativity. It’s funny that many people in the creative industries already realised the power of having an inspiring, flourishing, colourful environment so it’s nice that more people are seeing the upsides of this too. Choosing a ‘less ordinary’ home and work space that works for you has never mattered more.

What does this mean for your business?

Think how you can help people to better blend their lives this year. What products might help with this? How could you update your own environment to help you feel as productive and creative as possible? Think about where you’re likely to be spending the most time, and the way your life and business have changed over the last year. 

Might clearing wall space to create a manifesting mood board so you have your life and business goals around you daily help? Or setting up an outdoor area for literal ‘blue sky thinking’ whilst making sure you get some vitamin D? Or even just investing in some airpods to make sure you can get some exercise or fresh air without missing work if you need to? It’s worth thinking about these things now for the year ahead.

Prediction 4: There will be a rise of Small Businesspreneurs

Pinterest thinks that more people than ever will be turning their hobby into a small business, so rather than the traditional style ‘entrepreneurs’ these founders are more organic in a sense. They wrote, “In 2022, people will build a new biz based on their specific interests, such as eyelashes, real estate and party rentals⁴.”

Also, a recent BBC report suggested that 2021’s boom in start-ups came as the initial Lockdown was easing, yet the 2021 Companies House figures show that people continued to use the winter Lockdown to turn their business dreams into a reality in 2021— and there’s nothing to suggest this won’t carry on. In fact, quite the opposite. 

People seem to be wanting to work smarter, not harder, and to reallocate more time and energy to their own lives, dreams and priorities.

What does this mean for your business? 

Have you thought about what other hobbies you could make money from this year? Is there something that’s just a favourite past-time or even something you deem silly, but that you would love to spend time working on; that would bring you joy? If so, why not turn that hobby into a hustle? Life’s too short to spend it doing something ordinary. If you need any help or inspiration, my book ‘Do what you love’ will tell you everything you need to know to turn your passion into profit.

Prediction 5: We’ll all be wanting to have more fun

And quite right, too. Having endured (another) Lockdown, we’ll all be eager to break out of our confines, and explore once more. Embracing novel experiences will be top of the list for many, both virtually and in the physical world. With such a sizeable reduction in the number of holidays we’ve had (sob!), coupled with missed music and theatre events (double sob!!), art gallery visits, trips to the pub and everywhere else (okay Holly stop now), we’re all longing for fun and escapism aren’t we? So it’s highly likely that we will continue to seek enjoyment throughout the year I think. 

Plus with the news and social media often being so dreary, aren’t many of us just searching for something a little more lighthearted and happy? It might well be the reason that memes now seem to have become one of the most shareable assets in popular culture.

What does this mean for your business?

Brands that are fun and engaging — through their products, content, online experience and social presence — will be the ones that fly in the coming months. How can you use your creativity to make the world more playful for consumers and lift their spirits? Which brands actively cheer you up? Who do you think is great at getting the tone right and making you smile, without ever being annoying or sounding disingenuous? What can you really surprise people with? These are the sorts of questions to ask yourself to deliver the kind of sunshine feeling we’d all love to have more of.

Prediction 6: The experience economy is set to grow

Shopping is no longer just about products. More and more modern retailers are expanding beyond selling ‘stuff’ to offer creative services that enrich customers’ lives or unite them with others, even if only virtually⁶.

It’s now about providing services and experiences to put the products to good use, especially for the millennial audience who have grown up almost expecting this (lucky things). So as well as selling calligraphy pens, a business might offer workshops to demonstrate how to use them too. Or you might enjoy the option of having a picture of your choice stenciled in chocolate onto your coffee. Some of us (ok not me, but some!) might even have gone to virtual gigs, demonstrating that experiences don’t just need to be in 3D, either.

Brands that are fun and engaging — through their products, content, online experience and social presence — will be the ones that fly in the coming months. How can you use your creativity to make the world more playful for consumers and lift their spirits?

What does this mean for your business?

Which experiences could you add to elevate your product range this year? Could you offer a watercolour class with a twist alongside any paints you might sell? Perhaps your pottery kit comes with a video tutorial? Or do you host (socially distanced) dinner parties in your furniture shop maybe? The more surprising the better. The ones that took off in the first year of the pandemic were those that combined our last two predictions by providing ‘fun experiences’ (think the Cronkshaw Fold Farm’s virtual ‘rent a goat for a meeting’ initiative that went viral and was on the BBC). It’s these kinds of small business ideas that are set to really fly. 

So when it comes to forecasting, think about how you can use this information to give customers what they’re likely to want in the year ahead, find fresh ways to deliver the unexpected and most importantly, consider how you can make people feel good about shopping with you, come rain or shine in 2022.

Don’t worry about being shocking, worry about being remembered

How provoking a gasp or belly laugh with your work can help you find your customer.

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