“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence—it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” —Peter Drucker
A business environment keeps changing, trends keep changing, technologies keep changing, and those who do not learn to evolve and change with these changing technologies and trends often face the consequences of it in a slightly downhill manner.
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People nowadays don’t just want to stay in the game; they want to stay ahead of it. They want to invest in the right trends on time to reap excellent benefits from it tomorrow.
Small businesses are also on a roll these days as with the growing technology and services; business providers also must grow. Staying up to date with the latest trends and techniques is now essential for any business- big or small. More so for small businesses as they are in a space where they want to create an impression and succeed.
So, let’s take a look at the top small business trends you need to watch out for to stay ahead of the game and win in this competition of business:
Personalization. Personalization And Personalization
We’ve seen personalization in almost every business trends list for the past two years, but what does it stand for and how does it make a difference.
Customers want personalized customer experience and personalized product. It is also suggested that customers are willing to wait more if they get a personalized product/service. The days when everything was showcased to every customer are gone. It is now the era of customization. With so much noise and options around customers, giving them a personalized product that they want is exactly how small businesses can keep up.
The generation after the millennials or the generation Z (born between 1996 and 2010) will soon account for around half the consumers in America. These customers want personalized communication and experience and are willing to pay for it. Gen Z is also at an impressionable state right now, which means acquiring them now or getting their attention and loyalty now can account for a lot more progress and business in the future.
Let AI and ML Do Its Thing And Not Threaten The Humans Of Your Business
The words AI and ML have floated around for a long time now, but even now when someone mentions these topics, they either seem too alien to businesses or employees think that these technologies will threaten their jobs.
Let’s talk about ML first; ML or machine learning is not an alien or far-fetched technology. If you are using Spotify or Netflix, you are witnessing it each day. Spotify uses ML and AI to generate playlists for you according to your taste in music, comparing it to thousands of people. Netflix also has a similar thing going for them; recommending you shows that you can binge watch next.
Now, let’s talk about AI. Artificial intelligence is one technology that supposedly threatens the human race, but if you turn down the moral voice inside you that says, “Robots are bad,” you might actually be able to see how AI can help your business and how there is more to AI than just those evil, destructive robots.
AI can be essential for businesses as it can automate manually redundant and intensive processes; more so for a small business, as they can then have a chance at portraying themselves in a professional light and compete with the big leagues.
It is also easier to integrate AI in your small business at an initial stage as you have the advantage of integrating it in all processes from the baseline. You can train your staff in AI from the very start and use it as a standard base technology. Already established businesses have to redo all their processes and outline operations to incorporate AI in them, which is not a problem that small businesses face.
Remote Working/ Working From Home
Many people believe that working from home can defer the work or cause too many distractions. People also often say that working from home account for more time wasted and less time being productive. However, studies prove that it’s actually quite the opposite.
According to Stanford economics professor, Nicholas Bloom in his TEDxStanford; working from home have always shown positive results. They experimented with a firm (CTrip- China’s largest travel agency) and the output increased by 13 percent while the quit rate almost dropped by 50 percent, which is a considerable margin in the job industry. The experiment was so successful that the firm gave all employees an option to work from home after it.
So, if you want your employees to give out of the box results and work to their full potential, allowing work from home is the solution for you. Small businesses have one other advantage of work from home; they save a lot of costs and expenses if their employees decide to work from home. This flexibility helps a small business manage its expenses and reap profits.
Freelancers, Outsource, Rent
A small business naturally starts with a smaller number of people, and it is difficult to obtain people and have expertise in every field of business. Freelancers can play an essential role in this field. Rather than hiring a full-time employee and investing in him/her, a small business can hire freelancers who are capable of giving expert advice till the time they’re stable enough to bring in a full-time expert.
Outsourcing is another thing that helps businesses. Nowadays, cloud-based outsourcing is a popular method. Cloud is capable of giving fast and effective services with cost-effective plans where you only have to pay for what you use. Outsourcing divisions of your business that you feel weak in can help your small business. Like a business not well versed financially can outsource their accounting or book-keeping domain.
Small Business, Big Data
Big data is creating big buzz these days. Big data is nothing but the volume, velocity, and variety of data being generated every day. This data can be used to a businesses’ advantage as it can help in making insightful and informed decisions rather than random or clueless decisions.
Big data helps in creating insights and numbers about the business so that a business decision can be taken solely based on facts and figures. Big data also helps in the analysis of the customer information to provide them with the information or the services they need.
The rise of data also calls for a surge in the data protection acts as there have been many controversies surrounding the same. Businesses must consider those restrictions and make the best possible decisions based on the data available to them.
Don't Underestimate User Reviews
Think of a scenario where you are searching for a product on Amazon. The first thing you look at apart from the product specifications are the user reviews. User reviews play a very significant role in helping people buy a product as they are the authentic proof of that particular product.
People are more likely to purchase if they see a good rating by customers or if they read positive reviews about the products.
It is human tendency to trust a product advocated by fellow human beings than trust one which is only advertised by the brand itself. Hence, ensuring that your small business generates enough user reviews can make sure that people get influenced and buy your product, overlooking the competitors.
Voice searches and voice assistants are also gaining much popularity these days. Talking comes more naturally than typing, and hence, voice searches will only continue to grow in the future. However, it is also essential to create and capture content suitable for voice searches since humans don’t speak in keywords; they talk in full sentences.
Small businesses have the advantage of adopting voice in the early stages, which will make their process going forward easier and much more efficient.
The hiring landscape is already very tricky these days, add to that being a small business, and it becomes challenging to acquire and retain expert talent. People generally want big organizations with generous benefits and fat paying checks. Small businesses typically have to slow down their hiring as they cannot find the quality talent they wanted.
Large companies offer great benefits along with generous vacations, which makes it essential for small businesses to get creative and offer unique benefits to attract and retain employees and experts.
Stories and live videos
Stories are the buzz of social media these days. No successful business these days is ignoring the importance of stories as stories are growing 15 times faster than the news feed. Stories are short videos that disappear in 24 hours; they help in capturing the moment and give the audience a more authentic and real insight into your brand.
Brands are using stories to feature things like how-to-use tutorials, covering their events, and posting feedback by real people. Stories also give the users an option to swipe up and open a link directly to make a purchase or initiate a checkout. Stories do bring in their own set of challenges though like capturing the user attention in a limited time and regularly creating engaging and exciting content.
Stay up to date with these trends and help your small business emerge as more than just a small business. Well, at least for now, since who knows what change a day, a week or a month brings in.
Niharika Gupta is a technical writer at CallCenterHosting, a leading provider of cloud-based predictive dialer. She loves music and reading and has always been fascinated with technology. Writing about technology and other related topics gives her the utmost happiness. She believes words have the power to change the world and is working on turning her ideas into words every day.