5 small business trends we should be thinking about ahead of 2020
What should you be looking into now to prepare for the 2020 landscape and beyond?
The pace of change is relentless, and it seems the snowball of human progress is only speeding up. Those in the small business game, making their own paths will feel this change quite sharply as change in business means keeping yourself on your toes to keep your cashflow high and your future bright.
1. Small businesses with big data
You have probably heard the buzzword ‘big data’ being thrown around willy-nilly of late. It’s the next big thing apparently but it hasn’t really touched you as a small business owner.
After all, big data and the lessons you can learn from interpreting it, is for big companies with large staff pools, extensive client lists and cash to burn. Only they could benefit from the effort, right?
Not anymore. People making important decisions and predictions in their businesses, small or large, will increasingly benefit from some degree of data collecting and crunching. In fact, the longer you wait, the more your competitors will make leaps ahead.
What are we talking about here exactly? In a nutshell: customer behaviour.
When we speak of big data we are very much concerned with consumer behaviour, sales patterns, responses to marketing campaigns, demographic articulation and general interests. We then tweak our approach in response to what we learned from the data.
The best way to start is with analytics tools for your website, social channels and email campaigns. There are now a range of very approachable and cheap/free analytics solutions out there perfect for small businesses.
Google analytics will get you started here but make sure you have a focus on which data you want and how you will use it to make business decisions. Data for the sake of data is as useless at it sounds.
2. People and relationship rise in importance
With the modern capacity of small business to embrace a wide range of technology you may think that people are being phased out of the equation.
This is true in one sense – the tools of automation have meant that smaller admin-based tasks have started to quickly fall by the wayside.
With booking software on your website, accounting getting done with a cloud app, videos and webinars teaching your clients, programmed posts on Facebook achieving your marketing, you may think the role of personal service has been taken over by AI and software – it hasn’t.
In such a world, the importance of personalised relationships becomes even stronger. Whilst an AI chatbot or links to FAQ’s or community-based troubleshooting will be a part of your recipe, be sure to have direct lines of communication to real people.
This will never go out of fashion and the connection you form with a brand will always be at its strongest when backed by customer service from real people that you trust. The ability of a real person to create rapport, instinctively anticipate issues and see opportunities for cross selling remains unparalleled. In an increasingly impersonal world, personal touches will become even more valued.
3. Social boosting
Social media presence has almost become compulsory these days. If you aren’t on Facebook or Instagram, do you even exist? Can I trust you as a company? How did I even hear about you?
Now, while we all know regular posting and linking back from social media is a great marketing avenue, what is changing is the increasing propensity for paid posts.
In a crowded market, only the loudest vendor will be heard. Be that vendor. In previous years, with a good following and interesting content you stood a higher chance of trending on feeds and being visible to others.
Now and heading into 2020 its going to be ‘pay to play’. The barriers are low and you can easily manage a small paid post budget by placing caps on it and strategically putting a few bucks behind your best posts to get them high in the feed.
This will increasingly become the primary way to ensure visibility and increase the likelihood of your social posts being liked, shared and spread.
4. Embracing the remote worker
This space is about to explode. Remote working has already risen substantially over the last couple of years in Australia and the trend is not reversing, let’s put it that way.
According to McCrindle Research, the trend is catching on fast;
“54% of Australians still work from one central office location. However, 25% of Australians have a second location from which they conduct at least one hour’s work every week and 12% of Australians have 3 or 4 locations that they are based from.”
With 4G (and now 5G) mobile internet, Wi-Fi in every home, laptops and tablets as far as the eye can see and a mobile in every hand, there are no more barriers left to remote working.
What will happen now, however, is a cultural and generational shift in expectations. With the tools in place and many early adopters setting the scene, we are really starting to appreciate the reality and in fact, the benefits, of working from home or a remote location for at least a portion of the week.
As a new generation takes over the workforce, expectations of flexibility to match technology will increasingly arise. So take the time to figure out how you can support remote working, even in small doses, and start thinking of what adaptability you can offer your employees to get even more out of them.
5. 5G is about to land
Starting this year in 2019, this will be the big global network capacity jump that will allow for a new world of data intensive activity. One thing is for sure – mobile will become even bigger and more reliable, so be sure to focus on strong mobile delivery in 2020.
The ways in which this will affect you will differ by industry, but affect you it shall. New technologies will emerge, new possibilities for online business will explode, new geographies will open up and the speed of communication will quicken dramatically.
With such massive speeds and reliability on a mobile platform we will see business connectivity upgraded to the point that mobile workers will no longer suffer from the download/upload limitations or the tyranny of distance.
We will also see practices like marketing change to adopt augmented reality, virtual reality and a higher reliance on video, with the confidence that excellent bandwidth brings. Even simple things like seamless streaming, video calls, large uploads or downloads on the go will become hassle free and lightning quick.
Furthermore, we will see new businesses and opportunities for existing businesses emerge in the IT space as well as new apps, business models and products that will inevitably come about with advanced 5G. One thing is for sure: the future is mobile so get ready.
Alex Neighbour, senior copywriter and content manager at Reckon