Each year, small business owners look forward to the wave of new and exciting trends that will flood their sector and provide their business with innovative advancements that will ultimately improve some aspect of their trade. There is arguably no sector that has a more diverse, challenging and inventive landscape than does the small business sector.
Trends come around each year that impact millions of small businesses in the US. Developments in old practices give way to new trends that provide new and improved ways for these businesses to innovate through new approaches and technologies. 2016 is a year that so far has offered much promise to SMBs. With the advancements of many new modern business technologies, business owners will find a lot of opportunity in the ability to develop enterprise-quality, low-cost products and services. ECommerce, social media and internet marketing all will continue to empower SMBs this year, as they offer unlimited potential to reach business prospects in untapped markets across the globe.
The small business sector is one in which must adapt quicker, move faster and evolve more efficiently than any other in the marketplace. As such, we have already seen a great deal of emerging trends so far in 2016. Here are the top ten small business trends for 2016 that are so far gaining some serious momentum and that we expect to continue to rise in popularity.
Thanks to the availability of internet-based technologies, small businesses can now have more control over their marketing, brand development and even customer engagement. Internet tools offer SMBs many attainable and affordable solutions for problems that might have once been deemed deadly for the firm.
Those small business owners who are on a tight budget can take advantage of website building programs like Squarespace and Wix, which offer support for integrated messaging services and online storefronts.
Thanks to the Web SMBs have access to many valuable online resources that they can take advantage of for little to no cost – for example, free social-media platforms and discounted print-out shipping label sites.
The Rise of the Millennials
As the oldest members of this generation now begin entering their thirties, the millennial workforce is now taking over and reinventing the way that business owners manage their employees and the workplace. Millennials have unique and modern tendencies when it comes to the workplace. They demand a certain level of comprehensive leadership and they need to constantly feel opportunity for growth within the position they hold.
Millennials need collaboration, transparency and a unified work-life balance in order to thrive. They adapt effortlessly to new technologies and crave innovative advancements to improve their productivity and efficiency on the job. Millennials place a great deal of importance on ideals, ethics and quality in the workplace and need many potential avenues that promote collaboration amongst their team. They expect technology to help them to be successful on the job and thus have a need for useful tools such as UberConference, which offers a stress-free solution to conference calling.
Conferencing is just one example out of many,where Millennials expect that technological advancements will lessen efforts whilst improving efficiency and productiveness.
Appreciation of ECommerce
Online storefronts give business owners the ability to draw in internet users by the masses. The allowance of electronic commerce and the increase in retail spending as of late, both fuel an appreciation for the Web that is driving Internet sales through the roof.
Businesses can create and develop their eCommerce platform by way of a wide array of accessible internet tools, such as Shopify – an excellent solution for small business owners needing to develop an online storefront on a less than slim budget. Other tools, such as Vend, offer a prominent point of sale system that will generate a cloud-based mobile enhanced online storefront in the mere matter of minutes.
EMV Payment Security
Europay, MasterCard and Visa, or EMV, is becoming a vital security measure for small businesses in 2016. The recent migration to EMV payment (more commonly recognized as microchip credit and debit cards) virtually guarantees to safeguard small businesses and their customers from fraud.
A new law passed in October 2015 makes merchants in the US liable for any fraudulent activity that happens if processed without EMV-enabled terminals. This government-mandated requirement came about as a result of large-scale breaches in data, in addition to an influx of counterfeit credit and debit cards in the US.
Business intelligence, or BI, refers to software that gathers data sets of fragmented information and translates the results into information that SMB owners can use to improve their business. Historically, business intelligence has been limited to use by large enterprises to store and analyze ‘big data’. However, thanks to growth and improvements in Internet technology, as well as big-data solutions, it is now possible for small businesses to take advantage of such valuable information.
Online lending is an innovative trend in small business lending that is inspired by convenience and simplicity of the application process, a greater focus on customer satisfaction and the speed of delivery. While traditional banks of today look to small business loans as high-risk, online lenders welcome small businesses with open arms.
When it comes to healthcare and minimum wage laws, small businesses are leading the discussion. As the national presidential candidates prepare for the election later this year, you can expect that the effects of minimum wage (both positive and negative) will rise to the forefront in the very near fruture. As cities across the nation continue to increase their minimum wage and healthcare continues to be a hot topic amongst the masses, we can look forward to even hotter progressions with regards to employee rights this year and in the coming years.
Though collaboration is not exactly a new advancement trending this year, it is certainly one that we can expect to become more strategic as we can anticipate businesses to take advantage of the availability of revenue-focused partnerships across their city and even in their neighborhood. ‘Local’ continues to gain popularity and become increasingly more important to small businesses. Platforms like Townsquared, are specifically created to help interactions between small business and their neighborhoods and cities to happen.
As an economy that relies heavily on our mobile phone devices these days, for both personal and business related purposes, we often forget how far we have come in the mobile world and how far there is yet to go. Our mobiles today not only make us more accessible and collaboration a bit more convenient, but they also provide SMBs with personal data that reveals invaluable information about consumer spending habits to business owners and marketing teams, allowing for more advanced and direct target marketing.
As the market continues to become ever more consumer driven, small business are beginning to see the value in a connection economy. Consumer connection rewards value that is created by establishing connections and building lasting relationships, as opposed to focusing on building assets by way of industrialism. The most successful companies of this calendar year will focus on connecting consumer to content or buyer to seller.
Standing apart from the swarms of other small businesses will be both challenging and exciting with so many changes coming to the entrepreneurial and small business world as we know it in 2016.
Is your small business following a trend this year that we did not mention? Is there a particular value adding technology that we skipped over? Please, share your thoughts and insights. We would love to hear them!