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Published June 18, 2020
A weekly look at issues facing Wyoming business owners and entrepreneurs from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Mike Lambert, Market Research Center manager, Wyoming SBDC Network
The recent COVID-19 pandemic and resulting public health orders have closed or limited operations for small businesses throughout the state, creating uncertainty among both consumers and business owners. As the country begins to reopen, business owners are rethinking their operations and looking for examples of how they can operate in this uncharted business environment.
As the manager of the Wyoming SBDC Network’s Market Research Center, one of my jobs is to keep an eye on trends affecting businesses in Wyoming. Below is a list of my bets for trends that will help you, your business and our state adapt to a reopened economy.
-- Remote workers. Remote work -- especially for office workers -- is fast becoming commonplace. Remote workers do not generally work 100 percent of the time from home or a remote location. However, allowing workers to work remotely two or three days a week gives both the worker and the business added flexibility. Younger workers find this type of flexibility important, and studies show that remote workers put in a full day’s work or more. It also helps small businesses, who cannot always afford to hire a full-time person for a special project but, by hiring a temporary person, can fill an immediate need.
-- The gig economy. In addition to working remotely, about a third of workers (and especially younger workers) are involved in the gig economy. Many workers have a “side hustle” or secondary job. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses this way, but estimates indicate that it is not just business owners, as 36 percent of workers are in the gig economy. With Wyoming’s independent mindset, it is likely that more of our workers will like the flexibility of the gig economy.
-- Employee happiness. Businesses are increasingly focusing on employee happiness. Keeping your best workers is no longer simply reliant on competitive wages, so companies are focusing on boosting morale and engagement while retaining top performers.
-- E-commerce is dominating. In the next few years, e-commerce is expected to reach around $5 trillion. Many retailers are moving from brick-and-mortar storefronts to online stores. If your business isn’t online, how confident are you that your physical store will be able to continue to succeed?
Other trends that Wyoming businesses need to consider are the growth of the “green market”; the increasing importance of online user reviews; the shift to “stories” (short video content that disappears after 24 hours); the fact that personalized customer service is vital; and the need to address the way you need to reach younger consumers. The only thing that seems to be constant in today’s business world is that change is constant.
If you want to discover new trends affecting your industry, or have specific questions about the trends mentioned in this article, visit www.wyomingsbdc.org to locate your nearest business adviser.
The Wyoming SBDC Network offers no-cost advising and technical assistance to help Wyoming entrepreneurs think about, launch, grow, reinvent or exit their business. In 2019 alone, the Wyoming SBDC Network helped Wyoming entrepreneurs start 108 new businesses; create or save 3,402 jobs; and bring a capital impact of more than $24 million to the state. The Wyoming SBDC Network is hosted by UW with state funds from the Wyoming Business Council and funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY 82071-3922.