The Biggest Small Business Trends Going Into 2017

The only constant in business is that change is inevitable. Keeping up with technology and workplace trends is essential for business success – especially for small businesses, where efficiency, assets, people and profit drive business growth.

2017 brings a lot of opportunity to small to medium sized businesses. The development of modern business technology allows small businesses opportunity to develop cost-effective, streamlined processes – not to mention, keep apprised of the latest trends.

 

Here are five of the biggest small business trends going into 2017:

1. Millennials

Millenials now comprise the largest group of the workforce  and, as a result, the workplace is shifting to accommodate this new generation that craves mobility, technology and fast results. The oldest members of this generation are now in their 30s, and they are reinventing the way businesses manage the workplace.

According to a report published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the social and economic impact posed by Millennials is changing the workplace dynamic at a record pace:

“Millennials demand comprehensive leadership and opportunities for growth within every position they fulfill. Transparency, collaboration and a seamless work-life balance are vital not only to their comfort, but also to their success within the workplace. Millennials also effortlessly adopt new technologies as they’re announced, therefore erasing the awkward adjustment phase every previous generation of offices has endured after a computer and equipment update. What used to be a one-way conversation is now a multifaceted, 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week dialogue between brands and their customers.”

Here are a few ways Millennials have influenced the workplace:

  • Work-life balance – Millennials actively seek a mobile, work-life balance and are reinventing the workplace to have remote working styles.
  • Technology collaboration – Millennials are very comfortable utilizing technology for everyday business and online meetings. Conferencing services such as ClickMeeting, GoToMeeting and Huddle help with colleague collaboration and productivity, not to mention messaging platforms like Skype and Lync make geographic distance a non-issue.   

 

2. Good Web (and mobile!) presence

Internet-based technology offerings today allow small businesses more control and options for brand development, marketing and customer engagement. This is especially helpful for start-up businesses as it’s more affordable to start and grow a business successfully across different industries.

Keeping a representative mobile experience is especially important for businesses, as many people rely on their smart phones and do most of their buying and reading on their phones – which is why investing in a quality CMS system and content developers that is well-versed in optimizing a good customer experience for both desktop and mobile is important. In addition, investing time in expanding company brand through social media is also helpful in reaching targeting audiences and connecting products and businesses with consumers and influencers.

According to The Independent We Stand (IWS) campaign, “97% of Internet users conduct online research on local products and services before committing to a purchase. Reviews and testimonials, a business’s website, and other online public information play important roles not only in a customer’s decision to buy a product, but also in whether they share that product with others online.” More than ever before, businesses need to invest in crafting quality content for an online presence to build relationships with their target audience.

 

3. Ecommerce

Brick and mortar is struggling in comparison to the convenience and deals offered through online shopping. Consumers are opting for purchasing online with free shipping, instead of shopping at malls or visiting physical stores for other needs. Because of this, many businesses are shifting focus to ecommerce.

By investing into your business ecommerce platform with a selection of Internet tool like Magento, Shopify, and 3dcart, business owners are able to develop an online presence on a tight budget.

Through strategic offerings and coupons, in conjunction with a savvy online storefront, businesses are able to take advantage of the digital presence and consumers’ desire to purchase online. In fact, according to a Forrester forecast, mobile payments in the U.S. alone will generate $142 billion, making today an opportune time for businesses to snag their own online space.

 

4. EMV payment security

To go along with Internet and ecommerce growth, it is equally vital for businesses to invest in a proper “Europay, MasterCard, Visa” (EMV) security system. EMV chip payments are now the global standard for credit card and debit card payments, and if a business accepts face-to-face transactions without EMV, consumer credibility and trust can be lost, not to mention, you’re putting your business in some serious financial risk.

Chip card security trumps the magnetic stripe because chip cards create a single-use, unique transaction code that makes it impossible to transfer copied card data onto a new card. Switching to EMV payments will eliminate card-present card fraud caused by a lost, stolen, or counterfeit card.

 

5. Business intelligence

Businesses are realizing the importance of data to help them run their business better. Business Intelligence (BI) software gathers fragmented data sets and translates the information into tangible working data that helps businesses make informed decisions. BI has, historically, been used by large enterprises, but today’s streamlined technology  offers big-data solutions for small businesses, too.

 

Taking advantage of today’s business intelligence solutions, and investing in a custom, streamlined solution is a great way to start 2017. 

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