Business Management

Great Expectations: Key Trends Driving Small Businesses in 2022

Updated: Mar 25, 2022 · 4 min read

small business trends

A new year brings with it a series of emotions for entrepreneurs – anticipation, worry, and even fear. Any small business owner will tell you that going out on your own isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s been an unprecedented year and a half as the pandemic challenged businesses, big and small, to think differently.

While the world of business has changed in unexpected ways, entrepreneurs are entering 2022 filled with renewed excitement and ready to put the lessons the pandemic taught them to work to achieve new heights. At Keap, we’ve worked as a team exploring key small business trends that will lead to an explosion of new business starts in the new year fueled by technology and worker empowerment.

Employee discontentment

“When the pandemic began in 2020, the predominant trend was employee displacement as whole industries reeled from quarantine mandates and unprecedented supply chain disruptions. As businesses started to adjust to the “new normal,” employees stressed from months of business toil began expressing unhappiness with their jobs and workplace. A recent Harris Interactive Survey found only 20% of U.S. workers are very passionate about their jobs, so it should come as no surprise that 2021 has been the year of the ‘Great Resignation.’

What has surprised employers is that a considerable number of employees are not simply jumping to another job but are instead stepping into the world of entrepreneurship. A recent Wall Street Journal article reported, ‘the number of unincorporated, self-employed workers has risen by 500,000 since the start of the pandemic’ which is something we haven’t seen the likes of since the financial collapse of 2008. ”

- Zach Kellar, VP of finance and accounting

“The Expert Economy”

“While there has always been a market for contract and freelance workers, disruptive companies, like Instacart, Uber, Door Dash and Etsy, have utilized technology to drive the growth of a gig economy. Knowledge workers have taken notice and now, in the wake of the pandemic, dissatisfied employees are leveraging their expertise to build small businesses using those same principles at an unprecedented pace.

Whether entrepreneurship is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, the conscious decision to put mental health and family first or driven by desperation over countless job interviews that led nowhere, these solopreneurs are combining their work knowledge with technology tools to carve a niche in the marketplace that enables them to be in charge – professionally and personally.”

- Clate Mask, CEO

Record SaaS adoption

“Small businesses often face the same challenges as large enterprises but lack the same technology solutions and IT resources. 2021 found companies of all sizes scrambling to deploy technology to empower a disseminated workforce to meet changing market and customer demands. Fortunately, the shift to SaaS solutions has leveled the playing field allowing small businesses better compete against bigger companies.

Driven in part because of the flexibility and affordability associated with lower subscription-based pricing models, small businesses will adopt SaaS at a record pace in 2022. Whether it’s the need to effectively manage remote employees, enhance the customer experience or automate workflow processes, the small business trend of adapting SaaS solutions is the key to cost-effectively getting more done.”

- Jennifer Erwing, Vice President of Sales

Focus on Automation

“Whether you’ve been in business 20 years or 20 days, today’s small business owners are looking for tools that help free up their time. Often day-to-day tasks like invoicing, scheduling and follow up, force entrepreneurs to work “in” the business instead of stepping back to focus on strategic activities that will enable business growth. Tools that can automate manual and repetitive processes to enable entrepreneurs to work on their terms will catch fire in 2022.”

- Rajesh Bhatia, Chief Technology Officer

Increased demand for coaching and training

“COVID-19 displacements, better technology, and consumer mental health challenges are some of the drivers that will drive demand for coaching and online training in 2022. Over the past year and half, companies and individuals found out they weren't quite as nimble as they thought they were and recognized the value outside experts could provide in seeing around corners and uncovering blind spots. A recent report stated that nearly 77% of coaching professionals agreed that coaching will continue to have a role in business, which in turn, will fuel a battle for online course hosting platforms.”

- Scott Martineau, Keap co-founder

If the past couple of years has taught us anything, it’s that success is not the long-held ideal of climbing the corporate ladder to a coveted corner office – but what you define it as for yourself. Consequently, the “opt out” trend will continue fueling small business trends heading into 2022. The advancement of SaaS solutions and the rise of the gig economy have eliminated many of the barriers to starting a business that once existed, making it easier for employees to walk away from companies that don’t align with their wants and needs. These new entrepreneurs will help shape the post-pandemic marketplace, and we are excited to see the impact they make – and perhaps – even the industries they disrupt.

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