As an entrepreneur, you know more than anyone what an intimidating process running a small business can be. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to make improvements to your current business, there’s a lot of information on the topic to sort through.
It’s important to keep your eyes on the big picture when it comes to small business trends and projections — one or more could have a huge impact on your industry. Start with these seven growing small business trends that are rising to the top and could help expand your operations.
1. Personalization in marketing
In the era of social media, marketing has never been so personal. Nowadays, people are less interested in the business and more interested in who’s running that business. Things like outdated images, cold websites, telemarketing calls and emails will no longer entice the average consumer.
Successful businesses are making inroads by reaching out to their customers like they would to friends and family. To achieve a successful marketing campaign, you have to get personal every step of the way.
2. Competitiveness in social advertising
Most companies know that social media applications like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat already run paid ads that can help get them in front of new audiences. Although still in their prime, these social media applications are also getting bogged down with hundreds of advertisements a day — and small businesses are feeling the squeeze from online competitors.
Ensuring your business finds the spotlight will only get harder as more companies advertise on social media. Being seen by the right people at the right time will certainly be an ambitious venture.
For small businesses, this can be frustrating, since being drowned out by larger businesses with bigger budgets is a likely reality. The key will be adopting a digital marketing strategy that connects with your audience in a genuine way across multiple touchpoints. The more they connect meaningfully with your brand, the better.
Uncover what makes your business valuable to your top customers. Can you teach them something new? Can you help them solve a problem? Can you add to their personal or professional happiness? Package that message and relay it to new fans across all your online properties such as social media channels, blogs, review sites and partner websites. Spreading your brand through organic messaging will set a better foundation for any future paid advertising.
3. Stronger security and backup systems
It’s important for your business to be prepared if a disaster ever happens. One lesson to take from recent years is that Mother Nature has a mind of her own. Unfortunately, a powerful storm, fire or other natural events could leave you without power or the required level of service to run your business.
Having to go offline for a small business can be detrimental to its health and success. And while you’re considering the need to stay online, it’s worth preparing to backup your business data — ensuring you have the necessary copies and that they’re stored in a safe location. The 3-2-1 rule is a good method to start.
4. Evolution of the workplace
The workplace culture in North America seems to be going through a shift as people demand a more sustainable work-life balance. Thus, working remotely is becoming a more common expectation.
Providing flexible work options is more appealing to employees and as businesses get smarter, physical workplaces will shrink in size. Better technology will allow for less physical space, thus changing the way businesses have run for years.
5. Digital payments
With new tech like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Square and banking applications available on smart devices, people are getting accustomed to banking whenever they want, wherever they want. Since wallets are already in customers’ phones, the acceptance and evolution of digital banking and payment methods will develop and expand rapidly in the coming years.
Going paperless is also a good thing for small business owners, as it streamlines bookkeeping and provides another way to improve the customer experience.
Thankfully, going digital has never been easier with a variety of applications available to small businesses. Customers are now expecting their favourite companies to have these options available, so it’s important not to fall behind the competition.
6. Artificial Intelligence
Technology developments aren’t just limited to online banking and social media — there’s also the impact of artificial intelligence. Many small businesses have already begun incorporating AI into their websites in order to help with automation and customer satisfaction.
It can seem a little daunting and perhaps even intimidating, but there are third-party tools that can help your business incorporate AI into your website, for example. As this tech becomes even more popular, your competition will begin incorporating it into everyday customer interactions, products, services and experiences, thus setting a new standard.
7. Niche markets
Customers also crave change, straying away from the mainstream and look to smaller, more unique brands that give them a more personal feeling. For example, microbreweries and small food trucks have been gaining significant traction on the big brand name breweries and restaurants that have dominated the field for years.
Still, there’s a lot of potential for small brands and big corporations alike to develop their own niche marketing appeal — so the battle for a more “local” flavour will be huge. Consumers have come to expect a more personalized experience and will flock to the product or service that does it best.
Perhaps not all these trends will be relevant to your small business, but keeping an eye on the evolution of your industry and related sectors can spark brilliant ideas. Use your knowledge about these rising trends to craft a unique and personalized strategy that delights customers and grows your bottom line.