Time and technology wait for no man, relentlessly marching on whether your small business is ready for change or not. The 21st century has wrought many changes in the business world, and small businesses either adapt or die. Here are four small business changes and challenges that were ushered in with the 21st century. Understand these changes and embrace them to help your business thrive.
As it has grown in popularity, consumers have come to expect the internet to provide access to everything they want. Be it shopping online or continuing their education, people want it all in a place they can access whenever and from wherever. An increasing number of young professionals are even earning their business degree online. These young entrepreneurs grew up online and understand that a basic web page is no longer enough to attract the interest of potential customers. To compete with them, you’ll have to dive into blogs, social media, live chat and other online mediums.
These days almost everyone carries a smart phone. This technology can be a great asset to your business, allowing you to share files, access information, deal with emails and easily stay connected to your clients and home base when you’re out and about. Unfortunately, this blessing can also be a curse. To stay competitive, you must make sure your website works well on mobile devices as well as computers. You should also consider creating a special app for your customers.
Workplaces have become increasingly more relaxed in recent years. There are many companies that care more about teamwork and results than policies and procedures. So long as workers don’t violate ethics, many modern companies are much more concerned about what gets done than how it happens. As a result, new hires are often looking for flexible schedules, opportunities to telecommute, casual dress codes, paternity leave, office lounge areas and more. Attracting the right talent may require small business managers to loosen the reigns and offer creative benefits.
Advances in technology have made it possible for new entrepreneurs to launch their ventures with less start-up capital. This could mean more competition in your industry. Though starting a business is never an easy task, fewer physical assets are needed to do so than ever before. Many work from home, eliminating the need to rent or purchase office or retail space. Technology enables some tasks to be performed much more quickly or without human intervention, reducing personnel costs for start-ups. Software packages that take care of accounting and legal needs save new entrepreneurs, too, as they can now do some of this specialized work on their own. Be prepared for a bit more competition.
The 21st century is a great time to grow your small business and see it flourish. You’ll need to embrace new technology to make it happen, however, and you may find a little more competition along the way: but you wouldn’t be where you are today if you let those things intimidate you.