The COVID-19 pandemic has hurt brick-and-mortar retail as customers shifted toward online shopping–in fact, e-commerce is up 40%. As a result, the online marketing, IT, and tech sectors are also booming in the new norm, giving you more opportunities to grow your business than in the past. As bleak as 2020 was, experts estimate that in 2021 the economy will make a comeback that more than makes up for lost time and money.

Plus, consumers want to help. According to Shopify, 57% of survey respondents are choosing to seek out independently-owned businesses over larger, big-name competitors. 52% of respondents have shifted their spending online. 

In short: things are on the up-and-up in 2021, economically-speaking—and here are four reasons this year is the perfect time to launch your small biz. 

1. There’s a more expansive market 

With millions of Americans unemployed, there’s a broad market of prospective employees to pool from. Nearly 147 million people were unemployed in 2020. As a business owner, that means you have hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of potential employees with specific skill sets to help run and grow your business. 

For many of these unemployed Americans, losing their jobs forced them to look introspectively at their talents, interest, and overall happiness. Potential employees departing from their previous industries into yours could mean more energized, enthusiastic people (who are actually excited about what they’re doing) working for you. 

2. Vaccines are already rolling out by the millions 

Not all hope is lost for brick-and-mortar businesses. With 25.6 million shots administered so far in 2021, a return to a mask-free retail reality is no longer wishful thinking. 

Obviously the world won’t be back to normal in a matter of months—nor will it return to the same condition it was pre-crisis—but with vaccines in place, there’s a greater chance we can put COVID-19 behind us. 

Of course, some cities are better than others when it comes to starting a small business, so as you consider state tax laws and cost of living, consider where your business will thrive most. For instance, if you’re eager to open a bakery or coffee shop, pay attention to state and local restaurant and business mandates—and continue to pay attention to COVID case counts in each city and state. 

Also, as you consider launching your small business, brush up on COVID mandates

3. Remote work means fewer ties to expensive cities 

Remote work proved its worth in 2020. Several thousand companies began adopting long-term remote policies to save on leasing and office costs. Depending on the business you plan to start, you may not need a physical location or meeting place for your employees. 

Even if you plan to set up shop in a physical location, you won’t be limited to only local talent as you search for new employees. If someone you want to hire lives across the country or across the pond, now there are more ways to make hiring them possible. 

It also means that you don’t need to live in an urban area—even if your target customers are city-goers. Relocating to the suburbs or somewhere outside the hustle and bustle of a central hub may help you cut down on business expenses and living costs.

4. The economy is in better shape than it was in 2020

The United States economy in 2020 was all but disastrous. Still, Americans’ desire to travel, shop, and support local businesses stimulated several industries that were all but dry at the start of the pandemic (the travel and food and dining industries being two examples). On the whole, the country’s current economy is doing better than experts expected. 

People are saving nearly double what they were pre-pandemic, increasing Americans’ overall household saving; investment spending is trending upward, and the US dollar dropped 2.5%—narrowing the global trade deficit. 

Beyond all that, the purchase of new single-family homes increased by nearly 92%, meaning construction jobs are on the horizon. 

Experts feel optimistic—you should too

If you plan to start a business in 2021, come up with a game plan. Current and future small businesses alike have a host of tips they’re eager to share. And as new and different as 2021’s reality is, there are plenty of ways to navigate the country’s new norm and put your small biz in the best position possible for success.

Annie Eyre is a freelance writer with a passion for business trends.

Start a business stock photo by xtock/Shutterstock