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What ideas will determine the future of work and business this year? Here’s a compilation of tips, predicted trends and focus areas from a range of Gen Z and Millennial experts — including approaches to management, entrepreneurship, and business growth — that can help business owners shape their approaches to work in 2022.
Growth strategies | Entrepreneur Charlie Chang
Chang’s expertise ranges from eCommerce to real estate to finance. Here are four key areas of focus he has identified for growing a business this year:
- Grow your brand and trust by focusing on storytelling: “Storytelling increases brand loyalty. I recommend applying storytelling to your [website’s] page content, your about us page, your product descriptions as well as your marketing.” Chang points out that narratives about businesses and products are more likely to resonate than facts.
- Embrace an email marketing strategy: “You own your email list. It’s an asset that only you have.” Chang recommends using email marketing to offer discounts, stay in your clients’ heads for future consideration, as well as offering something of value — helpful newsletters, articles related to your industry or brand — rather than exclusively selling your product.
- Explore home goods products: “With the pandemic, we saw a huge increase in consumer spending in the home goods niche.” Chang was featured with Ari Genesis of Fire Rugs in Square’s Career Day series highlighting young entrepreneurs who have taken risks, bet on themselves, and found success. Fire Rugs noticed the demand for custom rugs from customers and scaled their production operation, investing in new technology that makes it possible to execute any custom design requests no matter the level of detail.
- Go eco-friendly: “Younger generations are showing through their activity on social media platforms that they are more conscious about their consumption.” Within the eco-friendly eCommerce niche, there’s room for creativity to stand out with your products in a space with growing customer demand.
Eco-conscious production | Eleanor Chen of Oddli
Chen is the co-founder of Oddli, a fashion brand embracing an eco-friendly approach as well as customizable attire. Along with its design aesthetic, Oddli stands out by making its product completely from deadstock fabric.
“Deadstock is the excess, new fabric from the fashion industry that otherwise gets thrown away,” Chen wrote. “There are 14 million pounds of this deadstock fabric created every day, so there’s no shortage in quantity to use … We use rolls to create our pieces, and recently we’ve even been using the scraps generated from our production to avoid any fabric waste.
“It’d be easier to start creating our own recycled or organic fabrics, but for now, we really believe that there’s nothing more environmentally friendly than using fabrics that already exist. It avoids both the emissions and water pollution from creating fabric, and the waste associated with throwing it away.”
Mission-oriented businesses and financial knowledge sharing | Anne Bosman and Shriya Nevatia of On Deck
On Deck is an accelerator for entrepreneurs, with a program, Catalyst, dedicated to student and early-career founders. Bosman, the General Manager of Careers for On Deck, and Nevatia, drector of the Catalyst program, share their top predictions:
- Bosman: “I think a lot of entrepreneurs have focused their visions more on making a deep impact. So kind of moving away from those shared economy services like ride-sharing, delivery services, consumer products, tech products. I think now we’re going to see more mission-oriented type of ideas that are looking to scale — making more of an impact in health, healthcare and climate change.”
- Nevatia: “I’m really excited to see the democratization of venture capital knowledge and access. One of the most exciting things I’ve seen with Gen Z and younger millennials is that they’re not as confused about VC and it’s not as much of a secretive or magical experience as it might have been for older generations … People are really just opening up the floodgates and sharing all of the information in books, blog posts and on Twitter.”
Making the remote workforce work | Kona
Kona is a company led by Gen Z founders that helps build strong remote teams. Its 2021 Remote Managers report features plenty of insight from interviews with 200 remote managers, including:
- “Remote work is here to stay: Over a third of startups opt for a remote-first model. Another 50% want a hybrid model once offices are safe again.”
- “Increased productivity allowed many teams to grow exponentially and see a future without an office. However, their managers and teams were struggling. A year of work-from-home strained human aspects like relationship building and team morale. A staggering number of respondents reported burnout and mental health issues.”
The report found that building relationships and loneliness were the hardest part of remote work (35.6% of respondents), followed by motivation and team morale (26.2%).
Some tips via Kona’s report for businesses looking to strengthen their remote work culture:
- Budget time for social activities or celebrations, even if they’re over video chat.
- Start virtual meetings with an icebreaker or check-in.
- Prioritize people management skills by encouraging vulnerability and open feedback from managers and direct reports.
- Make every meeting intentional and remove the unproductive ones.
Building strong habits | Financial educator Rose Han
Han is a former Wall Street trader who has broken through with a wide range of audiences by simplifying financial topics in ways that are digestible while remaining insightful. Two of her top tips for 2022 that can help entrepreneurs:
- Say no to most things: “Start becoming best friends with the word no. The word no is actually a complete sentence in and of itself, so just get used to saying it. You’re the manager of your time, your priorities and where you want to go in life. if you have a dream no one else is going to make it happen for you but you. So don’t feel bad about saying no when you’re asked to do something that doesn’t align with your goals.”
- Make reading a habit: “Once something becomes a habit it actually becomes harder to not do it, so turn reading into a habit by choosing a time and a place to read a chapter or a few pages every single day and at some point it’ll just become second nature. Another tip is to keep a reading list … there is a book for all of your interests, so if you create a list of books that you’re excited to read, that will make it more likely that you’ll make time for it.”