2017 is a promising year for entrepreneurs. We now have the technology in modern business management to give small businesses the chance to develop inexpensive, good-quality services and products.
Social media, Internet marketing, and e-commerce empower your business to reach potential customers in untapped markets all over the world. Staying informed on the latest trends in small business is crucial to maintaining relevance in the ever-evolving world of commerce.
Here are six small business trends you should be aware of in 2016.
Millennials are impactful
With its oldest members now entering their early 30s, the millennial generation is reinventing the way businesses manage the workplace and its employees. A report published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation describes the social and economic impact posed by the people born between 1982 and 1999.
And because Millennials place so much value on quality and ethics, they prefer to use technology to take care of the busywork — online meeting and web conferencing services such as ClickMeeting and Huddle (both virtual communication platforms), as well as workflow optimization and project management platforms such as Memit and WorkflowMax, are just a few tools millennials rely on for collaboration and productivity in the workplace.
Web presence is indispensable
The availability of Internet-based technology gives small businesses more control over brand development, marketing, and customer engagement. While tech start-ups traditionally benefit most from these services, Internet tools provide affordable and attainable solutions for small businesses in every industry.
All-in-one services like Infusionsoft, which generates personalized marketing software for small businesses, and Yodle, which maintains a business’s online presence, help small businesses with everything from appointment-setting to social media.
E-commerce on the rise!
Online storefronts, which allow for the movement of electronic commerce, draw Internet users to the Web in masses. Retail spending is on the rise in the U.S., and shipping fees are driving factors in customers’ decision processes.
When presented with offers for free shipping, 58 percent of consumers say they are willing to add items to their virtual shopping carts to meet the free-shipping threshold. Simply offering a perk for shopping at your online store can mean more money in your pocket.
EMV payment security
EMV, or “Europay, MasterCard, and Visa,” is vital to business security in 2016. The national migration to EMV payment standards (popularly recognized as microchip debit and credit cards) is virtually guaranteed to safeguard small businesses and their customers against fraud over the next year. As of October 2015, merchants in the U.S. are liable for any fraudulent transactions processed without EMV-enabled terminals. The government-mandated requirement was expedited as a result of large-scale data breaches and an influx of counterfeit cards in the U.S.
If your business still accepts face-to-face transactions without EMV, not only are losing credibility among your customers, but you’re facing some serious financial risk as well.
Online lending catching up!
A Harvard Business School paper titled “The State of Small-Business Lending” analyzes one of the most significant trends for small businesses — online lending. This innovative trend in small-business lending is driven by the “simplicity and convenience of the application process, speed of delivery of capital and a greater focus on customer service.” While traditional banks view small business lending as high-risk, many online lenders award funding exclusively to small-business startups.
A few different online lending models are available for small businesses. Peer-to-peer lending platforms connect institutional investors to your small business through services such as Lending Club and Prosper. Fundera and Biz2Credit connect borrowers with alternative and traditional lenders through comprehensive online marketplaces.
As a result of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012, the trend in online lending has shifted toward investment crowdfunding opportunities. You can launch your own campaign through a variety of popular crowdfunding websites, including Kickstarter and Fundable.
What is small business trends your company following this year? Which emerging technologies provide value to your small business?