8 small business super trend you should know about
The increasing influence of Internet services and mobile technology coupled with the prolonged effects of the economic slowdown has created a rapidly changing world for small businesses. To help you get a grasp of what small business trends are making waves this year, we’ve compiled a list of the most prominent themes being written about on business websites.
1. A flexible workforce
Everyone has their own take on how to implement this or what the effect could be but this is definitely the key small business super trend at the moment: finding new ways to get the job done with a variety of flexible resourcing solutions:
- Enterprise Nation believes that owners will focus on growing their business but not their headcount and outsource the rest, keeping a business flexible and nimble.
- Wired say that you should be thinking about outsourcing your innovation for a prize or to a bidder.
- Forbes talks about the rise of the freelancer and how jobs are shifting from 9-5 to project-based work.
- Freshbooks questions whether entrepreneurs and small businesses even need an office these days, thanks to the advancements of technology and communication services.
- StackExchange has some great articles on what they think about remote working and how they handle it on a day-to-day basis. This is really useful if you’re thinking of adopting this approach.
2. Cross border opportunities
The ever growing power and increasing ease of access to sales platforms like eBay, Amazon, Etsy and online in general means that even the smallest players can take their business global without much effort and all. And with the World’s online population as your potential customer base, the rewards could be huge!
3. Access to funds
As the banks tighten their purses and the funding gap to small businesses increases, owners and financial managers are turning towards more innovative solutions such as Crowdfunding for startup ideas and peer-to-peer lenders like Funding Circle for small business loans.
4. Getting into the Cloud
If a flexible workforce is something you are looking at, then cloud technologies and services could be the tools to help you achieve this. The simplest example of an effective use of cloud services is how easy it is to share and co-create documents using Google Docs, which also happens to be free to use saving your company a stack on license fees. Cloud solutions also allow small businesses to hit the ground running without massive upfront investments in storage, infrastructure, software and networking allowing the solutions to scale as the business grows.
5. Social media
Everywhere you turn, people will be telling you to leverage social media as marketing transforms from broadcast to a conversation. That said, things have changed a bit since last year as Facebook increases it’s throttling of free content, encouraging you to pay for it to be seen by your own fans, and as Google+ rises to prominence and starts to integrate into the rest of Google, most importantly search results. This is definitely a space to watch. If there’s one thing you do in social right now, it should be to get your company’s Google+ page up and running.
6. The mobile revolution
Another big trend that has continued from last year is the mobile revolution, which is set to be bigger than ever. You have no excuse not to optimise your website and communications for your mobile-using customers. Mobile’s share of global web traffic accounts for nearly a quarter of all traffic and your company runs the risk of becoming irrelevant if it’s not on mobile. The UK also has the world’s highest mobile web usage.
7. Pay more attention to your data
Put simply, there’s a lot more data about your customer out there than there used to be. There is a major shift towards getting better at using data and you’ll often hear the term ‘big data’ being thrown about. The consensus from all this attention is that all businesses should be focussing on how this growth in data availability can be leveraged to improve your customer experience and ultimately grow your bottom line. But remember to back it up and keep it secure so you don’t fall foul of regulation!
8. The changing high street
We’ve all seen the horror stories of flagship brands like HMV, Woolworths and Blockbuster shutting down on the high street over the past few years; it’s even a problem on the American main streets. The approach to the high street model is going have to change suggests e-Nation who are strong believers in pop-up shops as a lower-risk way for smaller entrepreneurs to enter the high street.
References: http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com/News/ITManagement/small-business-it-trends-to-watch-in-2013.html http://www.forbes.com/sites/capitalonespark/2013/01/25/6-trends-reshaping-small-businesses-in-2013/ http://www.cnbc.com/id/100349578/2013_SmallBusiness_Trends_to_Watch http://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/knowledge/articles/2013/01/small-business-tech-trends-2013/ http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-02/12/lessons-for-small-businesses http://www.freshbooks.com/blog/2012/12/14/2013-business-predictions/ Picture credit: Johnji
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