2017 is on its way out, and while much remains the same a lot has changed for the better. While there is some recent uncertainty from the business community after the election, the drivers for our economy are strong, world forecasts have just been lifted, monetary policy is not being tightened, and consumer confidence is above average.
Here’s our take on the 7 biggest small business trends for 2018:
1. Millennials will get their say
Millennials are starting to become leaders. Millennials are seeking to make deeper connections with millennial consumers. In practice, this means more experiential sales and marketing, less emphasis on glitz and glamour, and a push for consumers to “connect” with brands.
2. Marketing drives results with a focus on problems
Top performing companies will focus sharply on the challenges they help their clients overcome instead of focusing on the products and services they offer. This shifts the focus where it should be – to the customer. Your ideal client may not even realise that they could benefit from your product or service.
3. Digital transformation will dominate business strategy
Technology is at the core of the shift to digital. Smart people are getting increasing access to data to make smarter decisions based on real-time facts, not gut feel. Smart analytics will enable businesses to more easily identify new opportunities and generate more sales, increase profits, improve productivity and create better customer experiences.
Small businesses now have access to many of the benefits of these technologies at low cost and getting associated returns, if properly implemented.
It’s likely that your small business will never directly implement any part of but it will certainly tap into tech services.
4. Subject matter experts are the new rainmakers.
As technology continues to expand and disrupt industries, companies and clients rely more and more on subject matter experts to educate, guide and advise. They are a valuable resource to discuss industry trends, share best-practices, and discuss solutions.
5. Skills shortages
There are still widespread labour shortages, particularly for skilled, highly educated workers. A growing number of companies rely on immigrant workers. There is still some uncertainty about policy after the election.
Businesses are trying to solve skills shortages by tapping into short-term contract and freelance employees vs. paying a premium for top talent as well as augmenting current roles through automation or outsourcing via sites such as Fiverr.
6. Remote workers are on the rise
Employees and employers both get something out of remote work, though the overall benefit hasn’t been proven. Remote workers get benefit with increased job satisfaction, improved work-life balance. Employers need to buy fewer desks and expands the geographic area you can hire from, increasing the talent pool. Productivity is the number one challenge here and needs to be managed.
7. Interest rates remain low
But borrowing has become harder over the past year. Banks are lending, but they are more selective about who they lend to. Smarter business owners will find opportunities to expand.
How will these trends affect your business?