Thanks to technology and innovative thinking, the turn of the calendar each year brings some new or evolving trends with it when it comes to the small business landscape. For 2014 and beyond, here are some important small business trends of note:
1. Mobile Marketing & Commerce
This past holiday season, research showed that there was a big increase in shopping on mobile devices among many of the top American retailers. Even prior to that, mobile commerce has been shown to increase the purchases of small businesses and their big-box counterparts. That’s why if you do not jump into the fray of mobile technology soon, you could be losing your edge on your competition. It is so convenient to learn more about a company on a smartphone or, better yet, actually buy a product or service from it with the touch of a screen. Take advantage of this technology now to literally put your small business into the pockets of potential customers.
2. Virtual Employees
Experts predict that roughly 1.3 billion professionals will be working virtually at some point in 2015. This could literally mean about 20% of the world’s population could be conducting business remotely from home or a location other than a typical brick-and-mortar space. In addition to virtual employees, there has been an increase in small businesses hiring 1099 independent contractors rather than traditional W-2 employees, primarily as a result of economic instability and changes to the healthcare system for employers. It is expected that this trend will continue as well.
3. Cloud Technology
The word “cloud” has taken on a second meaning in recent years other than referring to the puffy white blobs in the sky that you can never catch. Small business owners on a path to startup success are exploring cloud-based solutions more than ever, particularly because they are inexpensive, can offer mobile access to data, and can make a company run more efficiently overall.
4. Importance of Security
More technology = more potential security risks. That is why small business owners are recognizing the importance of safeguarding their websites, mobile apps, customer databases, cash registers, and any other platforms that could possibly be compromised by a person with bad intentions. Take the proper steps to ensure your small business is safe.
It’s not exactly a brand-spanking new concept, but there has been a major rise in the number of entrepreneurs turning to crowdfunding websites to help raise capital for their startups. In fact, a report indicated that nearly $3 billion was raised through crowdfunding in 2013, and that number could actually double this year. Crowdfunding is a fantastic way to get your business idea in front of potential investors through online platforms.
6. Customer Service
With so many more forms of communication out there and the increased ability for customization through technology, one of the big small business trends now revolves around greater customer service. Small business owners are making every effort to ensure their customers are satisfied with every last aspect of the products or services they sell. Plus, the ability to post negative online reviews has put more pressure on companies to go above and beyond when working with customers. Highly successful business owners point to customer service as one of the top reasons for startup success, and it is certainly more important than ever.
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