Paying attention to the latest small business trends puts you ahead of your competition and with 30 million small businesses in the United States, the competition is fierce. By knowing the latest business news and trends, it’s easier to grow company sales, offer better customer service, and operate more effectively.
Here’s what was predicted just in 2019 and already the latest small business trends have shifted going forward in 2020.
When you invest in your future early on, you’ll reap the benefits far more quickly and when you’re a small business, that can make all the difference.
10 Small Business Trends to Watch for in 2020
1. User reviews are key.
Purchasing a new product involves many steps but recently, users have started to focus on a single aspect above all others, the reviews. It isn’t just about features or price anymore, it’s also about what other people have to say about a particular product. Users feel a lot more comfortable purchasing something that another individual has bought and tried.
Fan & Fuel reported that 92% of people will hesitate to complete a purchase when there are absolutely no reviews available. Reviews are now essential to selling products online, just having a 4-star rating by more than hundreds of customers makes it that much easier and more appealing to customers.
Many small businesses don’t have deep pockets when it comes to marketing efforts so it’s crucial to focus on user reviews. When real people advocate your brand online, your business and product become more trustworthy and can lead to increased sales.
“Today, customer reviews influence more than 95 percent of online customers before they decide to purchase. Moreover, more than 90 percent of people step back from buying the things online which do not have any reviews, good or bad. In the coming years, these customer reviews will be the greatest influencer of any business. Most businesses will open their review forums to publish their customers’ opinions. Most importantly, brands will drive innovative marketing campaigns through these review forums to influence their target audience.” – Andrei Vasilescu, CEO and marketing expert at DontPayFull.
2. Mobile-first employee communication.
Currently, millennials represent 50% of the workforce and are projected to represent 75% of the workforce by 2025. And if there’s one thing everyone knows about millennials, it’s that they’re very tech-savvy and mobile driven. Therefore, if you want to keep your millennial teams focused and engaged, you need to adapt your communication efforts to their level, i.e. mobile-first communication.
Emails, intranet, phone calls or meetings where 73% of attendees aren’t paying attention are all outdated methods to spread your message effectively to your employees. In order to boost employee communication, more businesses are shifting to using communication apps – doing so strengthens productivity, lifts engagement, reduces misunderstandings, and so much more. A communication app offers managers and employees a direct, immediate communication channel.
3. Remote work is on the rise.
As a small business, infrastructure and space can eat up costs. Real estate doesn’t come cheap and businesses must grow, however if you’re drowning in costs then you’ll struggle far more. That’s why remote work has appealed to many small businesses – working 9-to-5 five days a week is no longer the norm. Employee apps make it easy to video conference, send team messages, fill out forms or checklists and so on.
“People will be spending less time commuting and traveling but more time working remotely, causing business leaders to find other ways to share corporate info and increase workplace collaboration. With the rise of telecommunications (video, chats, etc.), the need for employees to hit the road has subsided, meaning that business leaders will need to rethink their communications strategies. They’ll also need to consider how to encourage workplace collaboration when everyone is in a different place.” – Jen Grogono, CEO of uStudio
4. Gig work is rising too.
According to Gallup, around 36% of workers in the United States are in the gig economy – which trends with the rise of the remote worker. Gig work is becoming popular because people like the flexibility and enjoy being their own boss.
Most small businesses aren’t able to financially hire permanent employees and that makes it hard to identify and hire the right talent. That’s why gig work is key here because you can hire someone temporarily, and they can work remotely instead of at the office.
5. Employee happiness truly matters.
Employees don’t just want a big paycheck or promotions, they want to be happy at work and that means feeling like they matter and that the work they do contributes to the bottom line. Employee happiness is crucial and is directly tied to their productivity levels. Working in modern times has changed, especially when most offices have foosball tables, colorful walls, pet friendly spaces, open workspaces and more. All of these efforts are part of the company culture because the focus is on boosting morale and engagement while retaining top employees and attracting new hires.
“Businesses [will be] focusing on employee engagement and happiness. Because unemployment is at historic lows, keeping employees engaged and happy is critical to retaining good people. Furthermore, many people are unhappy with the state of our country and the world right now. Keeping them happier at work … boosts productivity 10 to 25 percent.” – Scott Crabtree, chief happiness officer at Happy Brain Science
As far as the latest small business trends go, this one is crucial to the success of a small business.
6. AI isn’t taking over.
Yes, AI helps customer support representatives deliver top notch experiences to customers, however it isn’t going to replace the human worker. Instead, we need to look at AI as the co-worker who helps us become more efficient, so customers are better served.
“Technology is always improving, and with the latest and greatest tempting every organization, we need to keep in mind that AI and predictive analytics will not replace the human when it comes to delivering the customer experience. While there are definitely some great opportunities ahead for AI … it will not be a true game-changer, at least in the next year. AI can really be thought of as ‘augmented intelligence,’ because it can augment the human, giving people better information, greater insight and the ability to perform their roles better.” – Claire Sporton, senior vice president of customer experience innovation at Confirmit
7. The development of voice recognition.
Alexa and Google Home are smart speakers that have gained huge popularity over the last couple years. Garnter reported that almost a third of web browsing will be voice activated by 2020 and seeing as how this kind of web searching has evolved, this isn’t surprising to see. It’s a lot easier to run a search with voice activation when we’re driving or feeding a baby.
This latest small business trend means that businesses need to create a “voice” presence on their online channels – it’s a golden opportunity for small businesses to adapt while voice searching is so new.
“Voice recognition technology has continued to improve, and, as a result, voice searches have increased in popularity. Voice search is popular because of its ease of use and speed. It’s safer for people on the go (or in a car) to search via voice command than by typing. Also, since people can talk faster than they can type, they are able to perform a voice search faster. With the increasing popularity of smart speakers, in 2019 we’ll continue to see the number of voice searches performed go up. This will reshape search engine optimization, as search is shifting to conversational and long-tail queries.” – Alex Membrillo, CEO of Cardinal Digital Marketing
8. Stories trump news feed.
Thanks to Snapchat, we were first introduced to “stories”, which are now a default of almost all social media channels. Stories are short video content that disappear after 24 hours – this kind of “in the moment” content makes a stronger connection to an audience.
It used to be that news feed posts brought a ton of attention to companies on social media, however stories are growing 15x faster than the news feed. In addition to live streaming, stories are the primary way that brands should convey their message. As a business, build an authentic voice and use it to connect with your audience. While stories are short in length and disappear, you are able to reach a larger audience and can quickly catch their attention.
9. Customer service must have a personal touch.
Providing your customer with a personalized experience is what it’s all about, after all, customers are individuals with their own tastes and wants. Consider Amazon, when visiting your homepage, you see product recommendations that are similar to something you purchased before – if you bought books then you’ll see more books or if it was running shoes then more exercise equipment is targeted. Your homepage on Amazon is tailored to your needs.
Gartner also reported that smart personalization engines that recognize customer intent will also enable digital businesses to increase profits by up to 15%. Instead of just showing every little thing to the customer, you can cut out the noise and show the options most relevant for the modern customers.
10. 5G is waltzing in.
The last latest small business trend is all about 5G. 5G networks will likely be all across the world in 2020 and can open avenues like we’ve never seen. On average, 5G pushes download speeds of about 1 Gbps and with high download speeds, it completely changes how we interact on the internet. It makes interactions far more instantaneous which benefits small businesses so much because they can communicate and get things done so much faster.
2019 isn’t over yet but to date, these are the latest small business trends. Stay ahead of the competition by adding these trends into your next strategy and growth meeting.
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