As technology and the marketplace continue to move forward at a rapid pace, many small businesses can be left wondering what’s next. It’s important to see the trends before they happen so you can capitalize on them for your business. Being one step ahead could mean the difference between a profitable year, and a bankruptcy.
Here are the top 10 trends for small businesses to watch this year:
1. Social enterprises
People expect more from companies these days. That’s why companies that also have a mission have an edge in the marketplace. In fact, many consumers are willing to pay slightly more for a product if it supports a cause they care about. Companies like Toms and Warby Parker use the buy one-give one system, while (Red) donates a portion of their profits, and Whole Foods only offers products that meet their strict environmental, sustainable and healthy standards. Owning a socially responsible business also means you have a clear way to connect with your customers. Use it a differentiator to connect to your customer base and you could be building long term relationships moving forward.
Crowdfunding has stepped into the gap many banks left when they tightened up on small business loans. But access to capital isn’t the biggest draw for sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. What a successful crowdfunding campaign can give you is validation for your product or service while giving you an instant customer base. For companies that may need further investment as they progress, the feedback and community you built through crowdfunding could go a long way toward getting you that round two investment.
With the rise of sites like Elance, oDesk, and Upwork, it’s never been easier to hire a specialist for your business. With the rise of the gig economy, we’re also seeing a rise in the Solopreneur. Why hire a staff of 50 when you can farm out your work to individual experts how and when you need? Technology also means that instead of having a team dedicated to customer relationship management, email marketing, or bookkeeping, you can now use internet services and platforms to handle large pieces of it. That combined with a few carefully selected experts and you don’t need an in-house team to make your business soar.
4. Selling will get harder, but connecting will be easier
It’s a fact, people no longer want to be sold. As Millennials now wield their spending power on the internet they can spot a sell from a mile away. They don’t fall for the traditional marketing. They want unique experiences, they consume content before making purchasing decisions, they look for a company with a cause (see #1), and they look to connect with a company. Thankfully, it’s becoming even easier to connect with people all over the world. Social media is free, and you can use it to talk to your customers. But more than that, you can use what you know about them to create a more personal experience. Which leads us to…
5. Data will be key
With traditional sales and marketing out the window, and people looking for something unique, how can you deliver? This is where data collection comes in. If you can collect some data about your customers, who they are, what they like, you can begin to give them the experiences they’re after. Many It’s important to remember, with any sales driven business, it’s always about the customer.
Want to see 6-10? Come back next week for Part 2!
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