Small Business Trends in 2018 – Planning for the Year Ahead
With the New Year about to arrive, what better time to set your sights on planning ahead? Start by assessing the state of your current operations before looking at what you can do to make your business even stronger moving forward. Why not consider setting some New Year’s resolutions? After all, why should they be confined purely to our personal lives?
Here is a look at some of the trends that small businesses should watch out for during 2018. Who knows, they could provide a touch of inspiration to help your business soar to a whole new level.
Consider Cloud-Based Technology
If you’re thinking about purchasing new software, think about researching cloud-based solutions first. Small businesses have been quick to realise the benefits of cloud services and solutions in terms of the flexible pricing models, reduction of infrastructure and IT costs they offer. By leveraging the cloud in as many areas as possible, you will have a better chance of competing against your larger counterparts, due to potentially huge time and cost savings.
Automate Business Processes
Automation is also predicted to be big for small business in 2018. While it has taken some time to build momentum, the use of automation for SMEs is quickly gathering pace. Utilising automation tools for business processes such as accounting, data entry, email marketing and customer experience management will allow your business to achieve more, provide data to back up results and deliver deeper business insights.
Millennials Mean Business
Whilst for many the jury is out for the millennial generation and the effect it will have on the way we work, we cannot ignore predictions that they will make up 75% of the workforce within the next few years. Regardless of business size, engaging millennials as customers or employees will need to form a major focus for businesses.
The millennial generation has a different mindset to previous generations and is often motivated by different things. Recognising this will pay dividends in terms of employee retention and customer satisfaction. Personal interactions and corporate social responsibility are extremely important to millennials, so finding ways to engage and invest in the surrounding community will be essential.
Prepare for Increased Remote Working
Working from home has been gaining in popularity and is set to rocket in 2018. An increase in technological advances, realisation that you can run a business without working 9 to 5 and a greater appreciation for work life balance, means that this is a trend which is most definitely here to stay. Using virtual offices can help you to keep a separation between work and home life and present a professional image.
Don’t Ignore the Power of Social Media
With now over three-quarters of SMEs claiming that social media forms a part of their overall marketing strategy, it has never been more crucial to jump on board if you want to remain competitive in your market.
Small businesses are starting to recognise that social media provides an excellent opportunity to target their audiences down to a granular level and at a relatively low cost whilst providing the ability to track results in real-time. Facebook seems to be the platform that stands out above the rest, while video content continues to increase in popularity.. If your business is not already active on social media, this is something you should be looking at during 2018.
The growth of the Internet and social media marketing has also increased the amount of research consumers conduct ahead of making purchases. According to a recent study, 90 per cent of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 33 per cent trust traditional advertising. Managing your reputation online is therefore paramount. Let’s face it, everybody makes mistakes from time to time, so if you do receive a bad review, make sure that you respond in a professional and timely manner offering to rectify the situation – it could be your saving grace.
There’s certainly a lot to prepare for in 2018, but even if you’ve taken just one idea away from this article, it could put you in a better position to succeed in the year ahead.