In today’s world, connected more than ever by the internet and social media, entrepreneurs can build bigger, scale faster, and reach audiences around the world while still operating as a small business. Even despite the impacts of COVID-19 on the economy, small businesses are becoming more and more common.
Small businesses are driving innovation throughout the economy, and changing with the demographics of our times: 18.3% of businesses in the U.S. are now minority-owned, and of the nearly 1.1 million women-owned businesses, over 90% are small businesses. Given the nature of small business, many of these companies can be considered “very small,” with fewer than twenty employees and usually no more than a handful.
The rise of the “very small business” is most noticeable in high-growth industries like beauty and wellness. There are a few reasons why these industries attract small businesses, from the ways they can market their services to the empowerment of the people who buy and sell their services. Let’s explore three reasons why very small businesses are growing in beauty and wellness through 2021 and beyond.
Social media, especially through the pandemic, has taken over many aspects of our daily lives. It’s where we go for news, find inspiration, share our thoughts, and perhaps most importantly, research things we want to buy and services we want to get. Social media has transformed the ways small businesses market their services and reach new customers, and is table stakes for any new business looking to make their mark in their community.
Let’s face it, you and probably everyone you know is on some form of social media: there are more Instagram users in the world than cars on the road. But it’s not just for cat and vacation pics, it’s the marketing tool of choice for small businesses around the world, especially in the beauty space. Luckily, in the age of social media, it’s easier than ever for entrepreneurs to build a successful social media strategy to grow their businesses. You don’t need to be an #influencer to be discoverable by future customers. In fact, 41% of local businesses depend on social media to drive revenue. Similarly, three out of four consumers consult social media before making a purchase, including in brick-and-mortar locations.
But you need more than just a social media handle to get customers. You need to have a page worth following to have some clout. Small businesses in the beauty space have been able to build their businesses by highlighting their work using relevant hashtags and well-shot pics to give social media users the content they want, and to show potential clients what kind of service they can expect.
George Waldron, a salon owner in Pennsylvania, relies on Instagram to drive business: “Long gone are the days of flipping through a portfolio – now they just type in a hashtag. My stylists who actively use Instagram are the ones who are the most requested by clients with no relation to the salon.”
As our society progresses, we’ve collectively started putting more emphasis on beauty and wellness for all, in ways that are accessible to everyone. To put it simply, we’re moving to a place where everyone deserves to feel beautiful, and small businesses are helping make that a reality. Self-care culture, which grew out of greater awareness of mental health issues, has boosted our knowledge of and demand for beauty and wellness-related services.
There’s more to beauty now than ever before: skincare, haircare, fitness, and even meditation have come into vogue, and what we traditionally think of as beauty is now linked to our overall healthy lifestyles. And it’s not just for the wealthy or elite –beauty, especially as it relates to how we feel about ourselves, is for everyone. What was once taboo is now a business opportunity for many small businesses. On the whole, society has begun to elevate people of color, LGBTQIA+ communities, and more, by offering services that cater to their needs.
Small businesses provide minority groups with the opportunity to build businesses for their communities, and the growth of organizations like the Black Business Association and the Minority Business Development Association help budding entrepreneurs secure funding for their ventures, whether it’s a salon, a nail studio, or other beauty and wellness business.
Social media is making it easier for beauty businesses to market themselves, and society at-large is bringing beauty for everyone into public conversations. What has made possibly the biggest difference for the rise of the very small beauty business, is that it’s been easier than ever to secure lines of credit, small business loans, and small business grants.
And with it being relatively easy to start a business nowadays, there are a variety of new technologies available to small beauty businesses to help them stay lean and focus on the quality of their services, rather than getting bogged down with the day to day of running their business. Apps like GlossGenius help brick-and-mortar salons and spas manage their clients’ bookings, establish a client portfolio, and build a marketing presence, so they can spend more time doing what they love and less time in spreadsheets.
With so much support available in terms of loans, grants, and technology, very small beauty businesses can thrive and bring their creativity to life. However, with great opportunities comes great competition. It’s notoriously hard for small businesses to make it through their first few years: approximately20% fail in the first year. And although that number is often used to scare people away, what it really means is that small businesses, especially ones that rely on in-person services, need to scale smartly, cut costs efficiently, and use technology wisely.