Main Street Revival: Four Trends Small Businesses Can Anticipate

As small business booms post-pandemic, entrepreneurs should pay attention to these key financial and consumer insights

The last 18 months have been tough on everyone, especially small business owners. Many entrepreneurs were forced to either shut down or pivot their companies during the pandemic, and brick-and-mortar stores stood empty due to lockdowns. According to a BMO report, employment at companies with fewer than 100 workers dropped by more than 20 percent, and an unprecedented 387,000 Canadian businesses closed during the first six months of 2020.

“Main Street businesses across the country have by and large been in a fight for survival—smaller businesses have recorded almost double the rate of job losses as mid-sized and large firms,” says Mike Bonner, Head of Canadian Business Banking at BMO. “Knowing how important these businesses are to local communities and to our country’s economy, governments and other partners—BMO included—have stepped in to help them find ways to adapt and make real financial progress.”

Multiple levels of government stepped in to provide support through wage and rent subsidies as well as interest-free business loans to ensure that bricks-and-mortar independent businesses survived. And now, with vaccinations broadening and Covid-19 restrictions loosening up, these Main Street business openings are running above pre-pandemic levels at 45,000 per month, with small companies driving employment recovery.

All of this is to say, there is no better time for entrepreneurs to invest in their dreams of owning a business. Opportunities abound for smart, creative-minded people and the entrepreneurial spirit has never felt stronger. With that in mind, here are four key trends business owners should pay attention to on the road ahead.

The future is digital

Despite pandemic restrictions easing and some offices reopening, working from home remains popular, and for some employees, an indefinite reality. Expect to see the continued digitization of operations, as employees remain productive while working from anywhere. Employers who can offer flexibility in remote work will attract top candidates, and small businesses with a strong online presence will benefit from a growing desire to purchase goods and services on the internet.

Small businesses are on the rise

While the pandemic stalled many goals and dreams, it did offer a pause to reimagine and reinvest in one’s work. Expect small businesses to continue to grow, and with that, the creation of lots of jobs and economic recovery. Combine that with a growing desire from many consumers to “buy local” and many small businesses, either launching or reopening post-pandemic, should expect to see new, loyal and digitally savvy consumers.

Financial loans help businesses get back on their feet

Government subsidies and financial loans for small businesses spiked during the pandemic, including incentives for companies to retain or rehire employees, and subsidies for self-employed people who were not able to collect Employment Insurance. New businesses and those bouncing back from pandemic-induced hardships should look at business loans and advice from their financial advisors as the backing they need to succeed.

Optimism ahead

While it has been a rough year for many, entrepreneurs are resilient by nature and moving forward it looks like optimism will not be misplaced. Consumers are excited to revisit and support the businesses they missed during lockdowns. Main Street is expected to lead the next leg of economic recovery and with the “shop local” movement only growing in popularity, there’s room for re-openings and new business launches.

How BMO can help you navigate these trends

BMO offers a suite of products and expert advice, providing business owners with everything they need to get ahead and stay ahead. Expect one-on-one calls and meetings with an expert banker to help you navigate it all, no fees or minimum balances on select business plans to help you save money, instant loan approvals to take the guesswork out of the application process, and access to discounted perks from BMO partners. Banking with BMO can help your business make real financial progress. More at bmo.com/businessoffers.