, by

The Dragons Predict the Biggest Small Business and Entrepreneurial Trends for 2021

Entrepreneurs tend to be a resilient bunch, facing repeated setbacks and adversity with ingenuity. This year has been exceptionally hard as COVID-19 forced the closures of many small businesses, leaving many to wonder when —and how — we’re going to bounce back.

What will be the biggest trends for entrepreneurship and small business as we look ahead to 2021 and beyond? We asked a few of the Dragons what form entrepreneurship will take coming out of the global health crisis.

The pandemic isn’t going away just yet, but neither is innovation

Jim Treliving warns that entrepreneurs will still have to cope with COVID-19 restrictions for most of the year and we won’t get through the fog as soon as we’d like.

“I think 2021 is going to be a really tough year for the first three months until we can get vaccines out to the majority of the population,” he said. “What you’re going to see is all small businesses continuing to have a really tough time well into the summer. I think we’ll start to see some changes and normalcy beginning in the late summer, but really not fully back until at least September.”

There is a silver lining, though: Treliving thinks 2021 will include massive entrepreneurial innovation.

“This is an opportune time,” continued Treliving. “I often said in past recessions, you get smarter and quicker at doing things, and that’s how entrepreneurs are going to be now. They’ll look at what is needed and what they think they can do and those are the things that are going to be the new things that come to the marketplace.”

Entrepreneurship will get more diverse

Lane Merrifield predicts more diversity in entrepreneurship due to the challenges of the pandemic. He believes the best companies will no longer come from young white male tech entrepreneurs trying to solve their own problems.

“For example, struggling to find a cab after a party spawned Uber. These are legitimate issues and legitimate challenges to solve, but I think that as technology has become more ubiquitous and entered many more diverse companies and sectors, we’re going to see a lot of technology enter into areas that don’t just serve the needs of twenty-something dudes in San Francisco,” he says.

“We’re going to see a lot of incredible innovation in health care, care for elderly and products for kids. Parents are spending a lot more time with their kids than they have historically, and those moments tend to breed inspiration and innovation.”

Entrepreneurs will adapt old activities in new ways

Whatever the new innovations coming out of the pandemic, Vincenzo Guzzo predicts entrepreneurs will have to find new ways to adapt pre-pandemic activities.

“In other words, will people go back to brick-and-mortar entertainment? Will people want to have home delivery of food still? Entrepreneurs are going to try and figure out how best to adapt to another pivot,” said Guzzo. “COVID was the pivot for 2020 and we’re now going to re-pivot. The question is, will that pivot be all the way back to what we used to have pre-pandemic?”

Guzzo doesn’t think so, but predicts that what’s next will be something close to what we had before.

“When you confine people and restrict people, people want to go back to experiencing the in-person part of business. They don’t want to only be home online. People want in-person interaction.” 

Guzzo believes the old will become trendy again. Technological conveniences like Netflix and Amazon will still be there, but experiences will carve out their own equally important space.

“Technology will still be there, but it may go back to what it originally was, which was a reference point.  You may buy something you need online, but the minute the motivation is about making you feel good, you’ll say, ‘I want to go get.’” 

While businesses may change, the entrepreneurial mindset will not

With so many small businesses shuttered, you may think people will think twice about starting their own business in 2021. Arlene Dickinson disagrees.

“I think entrepreneurs are trained to think both short-term and long-term. When we think about how we’re going to grow them, we’re always seeing short-term plans constantly evolving to meet the needs of a fluid situation, but then we’re always working towards a long-term goal,” she said.

“I think that’s still true. I think entrepreneurs are trained to think that way and deal with crises because they’re generally in them quite a bit.”

Something like a pandemic won’t deter entrepreneurs from following their dreams. They won’t need an emergency fund for the next pandemic because their mindset will tell them to already have it.

“It’s kind of drilled into an entrepreneur from the start that you have to make sure you can float the boat,” says Dickinson. 

“Are they going to be more sensitive to emergencies? I don’t know. I think they’re going to do what they’ve always done which is ensuring that they have the right capital, ensuring they have the right reserves, ensuring they have the right risk quota amongst all that and they’re thinking short-term and longer-term because if all you’re doing is preserving capital for the next pandemic, you’re not putting your foot to the gas and trying to grow through an opportunity.”