The 3 Biggest Hurdles Your Business Will Face in 2020 and How to Overcome Them


“The year is 2020 …”

No, the human race has not been eradicated by an army of rogue robots under the command of newly self-aware Siri and Alexa (as you were Will Smith) — nor is there a thriving civilization on Mars due to vast technological advancements made in interplanetary travel.  

Though as unbelievable as it may seem, the year that makes for the perfect science-fiction opener is literally just days away. With it comes three nonfiction challenges every business will have to confront. However, if you’re prepared, you can leverage these challenges and turn them into opportunities for your business to grow. We’ve outlined some ways to help you do this so put on your self-lacing Nikes … the future is here.

Challenge #1: Finding and Retaining Qualified Employees

It’s no secret that both U.S. and Canada’s unemployment rates are currently at historic lows. In 2019, the U.S. reached its lowest rate since May of 1969 and Canada saw its lowest rate in 43 years.

Numbers like these are interdependently linked to high employee turnover rates as workers can seek out better positions without the fear of becoming jobless for an extended period of time. These factors, along with the creation of new jobs, a shrinking talent pool, and increased competition to find qualified workers, will make hiring and retention efforts difficult for businesses in 2020. This is especially true for small and midsized companies.

Another contributor to this challenge is the changing workforce. According to Pew Research Center, millennials already surpassed Generation X and baby boomers in 2016 to become the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. In 2020, the first-borns of Generation Z (those born between 1997-2012) will turn 23. Many in this group have already begun to graduate college and enter the workforce, with more to follow in 2020.

This younger cohort of job seekers is far different from their parents, grandparents, and even millennials. To attract and retain young talent, businesses will need to learn how to cater to the strengths and desires of this demographic. This comes through taking the time to understand what they value, their preferred work styles, and the expectations they have of their employers.

Ways to Win:

  • Invest in your employees. Offer training and ways for them to grow, advance, and learn new skills. Linkedin reports that “94% of employees said they would stay at their companies longer if their employers took an active role in their learning and development.”
  • Develop your company culture. This should be one of your top priorities. Align your culture with your business’s mission and core values. Then, constantly work to help it grow and evolve.
  • Utilize your Better Business Bureau Accreditation and BBB’s mission as a way to attract millennial and Gen Z job seekers. Both groups are highly interested in social activism. They often base the decision of where they work on the different societal and political causes a business is engaged in.
  • Offer more flexible work environments and schedules that focus on your employees’ well-being. 

Challenge #2: Gaining Trust Through Social Activism

Each year, Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, conducts a study to gauge the public sentiment of trust.

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Study showed that people now trust their employers more than any other institution — ranking them above NGOs, government, businesses, and the media. 

That same study found that individuals, in general, are more trusting of brands and businesses than they are of the government and media. Of those surveyed, “41% believe brands have better ideas for solving our country’s problems than government.” This creates a new-age challenge for business owners whose consumers and employees expect them to lead the way in tackling tough issues like climate change, equality, gun control, and other hot topics. 

Here’s an area where your Accredited Business can really excel in 2020! You’re already off to a great start by aligning yourself with BBB, a name trusted by consumers for over 100 years. The real challenge now lies in further stepping outside of your own organization and fulfilling your corporate social responsibility.

Ways to win: 

  • Find ways to genuinely give back to your local community and make service a part of your company culture. Share the story of what your business is doing to improve society. Not sure where to begin? Check out these great examples of what other businesses are doing. 
  • Promote trust by displaying the BBB Accredited Business Seal on your business assets and use the BBB Dynamic Seal on your website.
  • Consider starting a program that enables your customers to get involved and donate to charitable causes. For a list of BBB Accredited charities, visit give.org.
  • Consider sponsoring or hosting events on behalf of charitable organizations in your area to raise money or create awareness for specific causes.

Challenge #3: Embracing Technology to Meet Consumer Expectations

This last challenge isn’t anything new or surprising. However, adopting technology is a continuing shift that many small businesses are slow to embrace. A 2018 Deloitte study reported that “80% of U.S. small businesses aren’t taking full advantage of digital tools such as data analytics and more sophisticated online tools.”

Today’s consumers expect speed, personalized customer experiences, digital paths to purchase, consistency across all channels, and a way to communicate with brands 24/7. These customer service stats found in Blake Morgan’s recent Forbes article demonstrate the reality of these expectations:

  • 75% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a company that knows their name and purchase history and recommends products based on their preferences. (Accenture)
  • 60% of companies think they’re providing a good mobile experience, but only 22% of consumers feel the same. (Qualtrics)
  • Email is the most commonly used customer service channel, with 54% of consumers using email to contact a company in 2018. (Forrester)
  • 33% of consumers who ended their relationship with a company last year did so because the experience wasn’t personalized enough. (Accenture)
  • 79% of millennials are more willing to buy from brands that have a mobile customer service portal. (Microsoft)
  • More than 60% of Americans prefer solving basic customer service issues through a self-service website or app. (American Express)
  • 53% of people will abandon a mobile site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. (Google Marketing Platform)
By failing to embrace digital solutions or postponing the investment of doing so, you risk falling behind and losing customers, especially Gen Zers who are digital natives. 

Ways to WIn:

  • Improve your business’s website. Make sure it is quick to load and is responsive when viewed on mobile devices.
  • Examine your sales and customer service processes and identify points where technology could enhance the experience of your  customers.
  • Consider using email marketing tools to send personalized content that will help nurture and retain your customers.
  • Track your customers’ transactional history and recommend services or products based on their past purchases.

You Got This!

We hope this article helps you better prepare for 2020. Remember, as you implement the ideas mentioned above, in addition to those of your own, you’ll be able to turn these challenges into opportunities for your business. BBB will be there to help you every step of the way. Let’s make 2020 our best year yet!