With the roll over from 2017 to 2018, many entrepreneurs are getting ready to launch new businesses. Is starting a new business in your future? You’re not alone, estimates forecast approximately 42 million businesses will be operational by the year 2026, in the US alone!
When outlining a plan, keeping up to date on large trends that could benefit or hinder your business is of utmost importance. Below we will outline five trends that are believed to have the most potential for impact on small businesses in 2018.
Artificial Intelligence: a benefit to you
Artificial intelligence has come a long way in terms of accessibility. No longer is this technology held tightly in the grasps of technological giants with immense amounts of customer data. Third party utilities have made it advantageous even for small business models to utilize Artificial Intelligence, automating simple administrative duties, and unlock customer insights, not to mention many more!
The consensus of AI is on an upward trend: A study conducted by Emergent Research and Intuit indicated that 50 percent of business owners are excited about automation technology, of these over three quarters believe it will benefit their own business over the upcoming five years.
As you outline your plan of attack for your business, take into consideration how to include third-party tools, and how to market in an Artificial Intelligence centric world.
The Power of Freelancers
A huge splash is being made in the small business eco-system with the rapid growth of the impromptu workforce of contractors and other on-tap talent. Due to the flexibility that’s provided, many smb owners are turning to freelance workers instead of full time hires for project needs. Even more so since a variety of platforms and technological advancements in hiring tools make hiring these workers painless.
Nearly half of today’s small businesses employ contract workers, this number is expected to rise in 2018. Browsing sites such as Upwork and Wonolo is a great way to start if you are interested in using freelance workers to assist in scaling your business. There are other platforms aside from the two previously mentioned as well, make sure to find the right one for your business needs.
Customers have steadily marched away from mainstream purchasing for a more focused and niche market. With approximately $200 billion in annual buying power, millennials are engaged with niche brands and have a passion for them. Microbrew beer, artisan coffee, are just a few examples of products that have grown exponentially, giving the big-name brands whom have dominated for decades a healthy competition.
Small business will find themselves capable of utilization of these specialty markets in 2018. Lower operation costs, access to tools such as Amazon and Etsy Marketplace, and knowledge of one’s customers gives small business operators an edge over the competition that is big businesses. The key is to identify your specialty and run with it.
For decades we have been marching towards becoming a cashless society, smartphone payment systems are hastening this trend, one which started in the 1950’s with credit cards. The speed at which non-cash payments is only accelerating: from 2012-2015, an overall increase of 5.3 percent per year was recorded.
Any chance to take cash out of the equation is great for small businesses. There are several benefits to reap from going cashless: it streamlines bookkeeping, creates a more secure business environment, and provides additional options for customer payments. It’s how they want to pay! It’s a boon then, that cashless payments are becoming easier. Square, Apple Pay, and QuickBooks GoPayment are just a few. You have a multitude of options, if exploring digital transactions interests you, and it should: in 2018 customers are expecting digital payment options more than ever from small to large businesses.
2017 was a year of natural disasters, from the California wildfires to Hurricane Harvey. This was an unfortunate wake up call to many who were unprepared. Estimates indicate that almost a quarter of businesses do not re-open after a major disaster, and more than half of smb operators say they are not prepared for data loss in event of a disaster.
This heightened awareness will hopefully encourage more smb operators to bring crisis preparation to the forefront of their priorities. A good starting point and great source of information is The Small Business Administration’s disaster checklists and tips, a toolkit for smb owners as they prepare for the worst in a year.
What do you think are the top trends to watch in 2018? Let us know in the comments!
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