Every year, we survey our Acuity Scheduling users to get a glimpse into the landscape of small businesses. Based on the findings in our 2020 year-end user survey, weâ€™ve identified the latest small business trends, so solopreneurs and small business owners can head into 2021 with a plan of action.
After all, in 2020, there wast here was one thing that nearly every business owner had in common:
The COVID-19 pandemic made an impact on small businesses everywhere.
But how severe was the impact? And whatâ€™s the outlook for the future of small businesses?
Hereâ€™s what you told us about your wellness businesses in 2020, plus our recommendations for how to use these trends to adapt to whatâ€™s next for the wellness industry in 2021.
1 | Wellness small businesses were hit especially hard.
Of the wellness professionals who use Acuity and responded, 51% said the pandemic highly impacted their businesses. In fact, 42% of wellness small business owners also saw a decrease in yearly revenue.
This isnâ€™t surprising, right? After all, so many of the pandemicâ€™s effects directly impact the professionals who work their magic in-person. (Itâ€™s harder to give massages or Reiki sessions over a video call. Not impossible in the slightest, just much trickier.)
With stay-at-home orders, capacity restrictions, and social distancing mandates in place, wellness businesses have directly absorbed those repercussions. 1/3 of business owners across the board have either struggled to pay business expenses, temporarily closed up shop, cut their own pay, applied for business loans, or a combination of all of the above.
2 | Things might take awhile to turn around, but wellness practitioners are resilient.
Saying good riddance to 2020 doesnâ€™t mean the struggle is instantly over (unfortunately). 80% of wellness industry respondents expect the effects of the pandemic to continue up to a year, while 26% expect the effects to reverberate even well beyond 2021.
But where thereâ€™s been strife, thereâ€™s also been resilience. Even those hit hardest seem to be ready for a comeback: 75% of wellness industry survey respondents are optimistic about their business outlook in 2021, which is deeply inspiring.
So many of you have already adapted to pandemic-related restrictions, making the most of what the world throws at us. Of our 2020 wellness professional respondents, 1/2 found new revenue streams, more than 1/3 began to offer services online only, and more than 1/3 pivoted to a hybrid of in-person and online services.
That resourcefulness has prepared you to stay resilient and flexible in 2021. If you havenâ€™t yet, consider pivoting your services online.
3 | Online tools are especially crucial for your businessâ€™s growth.
Wellness survey respondents credited four key online tools as the most helpful and valuable tools for their businesses in 2020: video conferencing, social media marketing, a business website, and online scheduling software.
Video conferencing is the key to connecting remotely with clients.
In 2020, one of the most useful tools you had as wellness practitioners was video.
Video conferencing helped wellness businesses to pivot their craft virtually in creative ways, including offering tutorials on self-massage or remote healing circles. For an industry that typically values hands-on and in-person connection with clients, the necessary jump to video conferencing tools was a big one: Of our 2020 survey respondents, 36% of wellness professionals named video conferencing as one of their top growth tools. That more than doubles the 16% of wellness respondents who named video as a growth tool in our 2019 survey.
As the pandemic continues to affect your wellness business in 2021, make sure you integrate your services with video conferencing tools. Make it easy with with Zoom, Google Hangouts, join.me, and GoToMeeting, so you can continue to serve clients wherever they are.
Promoting your business on social media is powerful.
In 2020, 94% of wellness industry respondents acquired new users, regardlessâ€”and, in some cases, because ofâ€”the pandemic. Word of mouth is still the acquisition queen, especially for wellness experts. 86% of wellness respondents said they acquired new clients through word of mouth in 2020, so if you donâ€™t already have a word of mouth strategy, move that up your 2021 marketing to-do list.
But as far as tools for getting the word out about their business, social media reigns. Over 51% of wellness industry respondents said social media is the #1 or #2 most valuable tools for their businessâ€™ growth.
As for wellness respondentsâ€™ favorite social platforms for marketing: Instagram and Facebook still dominate. Acuity Scheduling has booking integrations with both of those platforms: You can , or . Offering the option to book straight from those social profiles creates a more seamless experience for clients who discover you through social media.
In 2020, 21% of wellness respondents even created new social media accounts for their businesses. Itâ€™s never too late to make updates to how you market your business online. Take stock of which channels your current and prospective clients are most engaged, and update your social strategy accordingly in 2021.
A business website is the core of your digital presence.
A professional looking and user-friendly homebase like a website can make a huge difference in attracting clients. 62% of wellness survey respondents said that having a website for their business was one of the most helpful business tools this past year.
If youâ€™re ready to launch a website in 2021, makes it simple. You can elevate your branding and expand your businessâ€™s footprint with Íú˛ĆĚĺÓýâ€™s all-in-one suite of tools (including ) to help your business stand out to current and prospective clients.
Scheduling software is key to getting paid.
If your revenue relies on scheduling appointments, then itâ€™s critical you find the right online scheduling software for your business. 46% of wellness industry respondents named online scheduling software as the #1 or #2 most helpful online tools for their business in 2020.
One of the key features we recommend as part of online scheduling software is the ability to integrate a payment processor (such as with Stripe, Square, or PayPal). By automating online scheduling in conjunction with an integrated payment processor, you can help your income become a little more predictable during an unpredictable time.
Accepting contactless payments and deposits with your integrated payment processor at the point of scheduling is a key factor in reducing client no-shows: 34% of wellness survey respondents who accept deposits said that requiring deposits helped them to reduce client cancellations and no-shows. We predict this trend will grow in 2021 as more businesses integrate a payment processor and require deposits at the point of booking. Requiring a deposit helps to protect your time and revenue.
When you choose Acuity Scheduling as your scheduling software, Acuity makes it easier to weather the pandemic in 2021 and beyond. You can set up new revenue streams, including client subscriptions, appointment packages, group classes, and gift cards. You can even accept donations and sliding scale payments.
4 | Acuity Scheduling saved time every week for 93% of wellness entrepreneurs.
When time is literally money, itâ€™s important to find ways to save more of it for the work that matters most. A good scheduling platform not only helps you book clients and boost revenue, it helps you save time. Acuity Scheduling is the affordable, user-friendly choice for automated client scheduling that takes the headache out of the booking process.
In fact, 93% of wellness survey respondents said that Acuity Scheduling saves them time each week, with 84% of those business owners saving up to 5 hours per week. Thatâ€™s 260 more hours in a year that you can focus on your actual work, and less time on the logistics of getting there. Simply tell Acuity when youâ€™re available and what youâ€™re offering, and let clients self-schedule online 24/7.
One of Acuityâ€™s key time savers is our ease of automated client reminders. When you automate reminders, it helps you build client relationships in a fraction of the time. It also, crucially, helps prevent no-shows. In fact, 76% of wellness survey respondents use SMS text or email reminders, and 76% of those who use them say that reminders help to cut down on the number of clients who miss their appointments.
So, whatâ€™s one of your key steps toward maintaining client relationships, getting paid, and saving time in 2021? Customize those SMS texts and emails as part of your client onboarding flow with Acuity Scheduling.
5 | Business owners are prioritizing self-care.
We canâ€™t talk about the most important tools for running your business during the pandemic without highlighting one of the most crucial and overlooked habits: taking care of yourself.
When we say â€śself-care,â€ť we donâ€™t mean long hot baths and face masks (although those sure can help sometimes). We mean actually taking some days off from focusing on your business, and spending that time reconnecting with yourself and your community instead.
18% of wellness survey respondents took at least 11 days off in 2020, which is slightly down from the 22% our respondents reported in 2019. The good news? The number of respondents who didnâ€™t take any time off cut in half, from 14% in 2019 to 7% in 2020.
2020 was a lot of things for all of us, personally and professionally. But one of the most important lessons for 2021 is to take the time to actually recharge away from work in order to beat burnout, feel fresher, and focus more deeply on work when we return to it. Self-care helps your business, it helps your clients, and it helps you not only survive, but thrive.
If you start using even one of these trends in 2021, it should be this one: a well-balanced schedule. , and remember that this year is a marathon, not a sprint.
Cheers to your business in 2021, complete with a clink of our cider mugs.
2020 was tough on all of us, but when we take stock of how far weâ€™ve come as a collective, we can feel proud of ourselvesâ€”and each otherâ€”for all weâ€™ve accomplished this year. Hereâ€™s to taking what weâ€™ve learned, what weâ€™ve survived, and the new strategies weâ€™ve mastered to make 2021 the year of us.