Six 2021 Small Business Trends

With a new year on the horizon, there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic for small businesses across BC. Prepare for the coming year with our Six 2021 Small Business Trends.

While many of us can’t wait to say goodbye to 2020, the circumstances presented by this challenging year fueled innovation and changed the future trajectory of businesses across BC. From March onwards, businesses were forced to discard their long-term plans and quickly shift to accommodate an unprecedented landscape. Business models were cast aside, companies pivoted in so many ways, and the work from home genie left the bottle, never to return.

As we slowly consider a return to something approaching normality in 2021, the innovations of these past few months are likely to stay with us and grow deeper roots. We’ve dusted off our crystal ball to peer into the future and present six 2021 Small Business Trends to watch out for in the coming months.

Long Term Work from Home

For years, it’s felt like we’ve been on the cusp of work from home becoming a viable option for most businesses. Unfortunately, it took a pandemic for this seismic shift to occur. Now that work from home has received widespread acceptance, 2021 will likely be the year it becomes a long-term option for most businesses. Look for companies to develop policies that support and nurture staff who want to retain a work from home option. Staff will transition from temporary to more permanent work from home setups, and Zoom meetings look like they’re here to stay.

Emergence of eCommerce

2020 was the year eCommerce came alive for many small businesses. As people stayed home to comply with COVID-19 health regulations, many businesses quickly spun up an eCommerce component to service them. This led to innovations such as Vancouver’s BeerVan, where individual breweries came together to offer a group delivery option. Consumers now rightly expect businesses to serve their needs online, fueling further growth in eCommerce in 2021 and beyond.

Business Model Innovation

One of the terms we saw used repeatedly in 2020 was ‘pivoting.’ To remain relevant in our new COVID economy, many businesses had to be nimble on their feet, quickly pivoting to first survive, then thrive. Entire industries were uprooted, with industries such as hospitality, events, and retail all making significant changes in short order. With lessons learned from 2020, look for this innovation to continue, as businesses increasingly see the value of diversifying their revenue streams and ensuring they’re well placed to survive any future disruptions.

Increased Virtual Services

The pandemic has demonstrably shown many of our face-to-face interactions were needless traditions that can be easily replicated online. Software like Zoom and Slack has allowed seamless communication online, cutting out the need for in-person facetime. As budgets remain tight in 2021, look for this trend to continue, with business travel and in-person meetings staying online. For local businesses, the trend of offering services online will flourish this year with a mature marketplace of savvy consumers used to navigating the technical side of things. For a concrete sign of this, look to the recent purchase of Slack by Salesforce for a reported US$27.7 billion. That’s a big bet on the long-term viability of the platform.


Far be it from us to add to any lingering gloom, but once the pandemic recedes into memory, the question of sustainability will once again come to the forefront. We may not have been focusing on it in 2020, but the climate crisis remains a long-term existential threat to business. Every company will have to evaluate their role in making a difference. How can your operations continue in a more sustainable and eco-friendly manner? Legislation is likely in the next few years regards carbon and water usage. Get your business ahead of the curve by making reductions in 2021.

Local Focus

Another important trend in 2020 was the move toward shopping local and supporting small businesses. COVID-19 interrupted international supply chains and more people began to see the value in keeping money within their communities. This is great news for businesses across BC and the trend looks set to continue in 2021. When possible, offer “Made in Canada” products and promote this offering with your community. Not only are you supporting other local small businesses, you’re also helping to cut down on emissions and hit those sustainability targets. Join a community of BC-based businesses and register for our BC Marketplace. This free online marketplace connects businesses province-wide with an audience of customers passionate about shopping local.

Here to Help

No matter what stage of your business journey you’re at, Small Business BC has the resources you need to succeed in 2021. Check out our range of business webinars, our Talk to an Expert Advisories, or browse our selection of business articles.