So, yet another year is gone and a shiny fresh new year beckons. Will 2019 offer small business owners an opportunity to absorb the lessons from the best strategies and business results of 2018, and plan effectively for this year? Of course, business doesn't trade in isolation and small business trends are continually evolving. Whether the major small business trends are in customer service, marketing or technology, business owners need to understand the prevailing external factors in order to fine-tune their internal operations.
Of course, some trends will have more of a direct impact on your business, than others regardless of your niche. However, the key is how you embrace and adapt them to your business’ needs and how successfully you execute your strategy. Managing change is always tricky for small business. Poor decisions and clumsy implementations can burn through a lot of cash and even place the business’ future in jeopardy.
We’ve compiled 10 predicted business trends to help business owners navigate the challenges of 2019 successfully. Choose wisely and execute strategically. These trends may just be a defining factor in your business’s continued success making them a “must have” for business owners.
1. Small Businesses Will Continue Adapting To Modern Customers
Customers today enjoy a wider range of choice than at any time in history. 2018 demonstrated they gravitate towards those prioritising the delivery of personalised, speedy and seamless service experience. This holds true regardless of whether they’re making a financial transaction, shopping online, ordering lunch or having their car repaired. In financial services, inflexible legacy firms are struggling behind smaller more nimble startups offering a superior customer experience.
2. Marketing Continues To Grow More Personalised
Marketing is becoming increasingly personal, thanks to the emergence of Big Data and social media smarts. This trend will keep gathering momentum as we move further into 2019. No longer will impersonal calls to action, stock images, beige brand marketing or generic advertising and social media campaigns convince consumers to part with their cash.
To succeed in 2019 and beyond, you'll need to provide high-quality, customised content through every step in the sales conversion process.
3. The Human Touch Is In No Danger of Being Replaced By Technology
Technology continues to evolve and improve. While the latest shiny new technology may be tempting, remember, AI and predictive analytics are not about to replace the human factor in creating a fulfilling customer experience.
Although AI opportunities are definitely looming ahead of us, it is unlikely to be a comprehensive game-changing enabler for small business in 2019. AI is best considered as “augmented intelligence,” as it can augment human interactions, giving business owners better information and greater insights to make decisions on together with a platform to better perform their customer-facing roles.
4. The Transition Towards Remote Work Will Accelerate
The rise of the gig economy is giving small business access to a broad pool of skilled expertise without the expense of hiring full-time staff. Moreover, as telecommuting continues to become an everyday facet of business operations, owners need to consider how best to nurture workplace collaboration when team members are in different locations. Similarly, with Skype and online chats and outsourced fulfilment and shipping proliferating, it’s easier than ever for small business owners to take their brand to the world.
5. Iot’s Rise Will Stimulate Edge Computing
Edge computing is poised to make a major impact on performance and reliability in powering the ever-rising inventive IoT applications across the spectrum of industries. Infrastructure capable of handling thousands of end users constantly transmitting and consuming enormous torrents of data between their smartphone and IoT devices is a core capability.
Edge computing solves these issues by transferring processing close to the IoT device, enabling the transmission-consumption cycle to run far more efficiently and significantly faster. This conceptual approach avoids wasting expensive bandwidth and time-constrained battery on tasks that may be processed at the edge. This new computing infrastructure could open up IoT analytics to small business budgets by operating beyond a centralized data centre.
6. The User Review Emerges As Content’s New Gold Standard
Currently, customer reviews exert influence over 95 per cent of online shoppers prior to their purchase decision. Indeed, when buying items online more than 90 per cent of people abandon purchases lacking customer reviews, either complementary or negative. In 2019, a brand’s customer reviews will expand their role emerging as the leading influencer for any online business.
Most small businesses will be publishing their customers' opinions and will expend more energy garnering reviews and testimonials. Critically, expect to see brands driving savvy marketing campaigns directly through their review forums in an effort to shape their target audience’s buying behaviour.
7. Chatbots Rule!
Marketing automation was a smart investment in 2018 and will continue to be one in 2019. There are many different marketing processes you can automate through digital tools especially in your social media. In 2019 we expect adding messenger chatbots to your average small business website will add impetus to your prospect engagement experience.
Chatbots transform your social media strategy and how you interact with your customers into a real-time always-on, automated instant communication tool. Already more than 300,000 Facebook Messenger chatbots are working away on behalf of more than 300,000 businesses. It’s a simple automation tool that improves direct communication with your customers and a must-have in 2019.
8. Hyperlocal Advertising
The pervasiveness of smartphones with geo-location capabilities promises to be a boon to small businesses in 2019. This nifty technology promises to take hyperlocal advertising to the next level for small business owners. It is widely tipped to become one of the best small business trends in 2019.
This form of advertising uses location technology to serve customers with highly relevant ads based on their proximity to your business location. Small bricks and mortar business owners and startups, especially those with location-specific premises, are now set to reap the rewards of hyperlocal advertising in 2019.
It enables your business to interact with your customers a way, which combines traditional advertising techniques with a personal, highly local touch. This could just be one of those creative small business ideas which can help your business flourish via local foot traffic in 2019.
9. Contextualising Big Data Will Become Easier
If nothing else, the digital economy is drowning us in data. With ever-expanding torrents of data now available, a trend toward easy-to-use analytic applications is expected to surge in 2019. This will enable small business to compete more evenly by gaining access to productionised data analytics with applications that are far more interactive, accessible and user-friendly. Couple this with the increased availability of analytical skills via the gig economy and suddenly the Big Data playing field is a whole lot flatter.
10. Businesses May Just Prioritise Employee Happiness
With a tight labour pool, small businesses will find 2019 is the year to focus on employee engagement and happiness. Keeping employees engaged and happy is critical to retaining good people and maintaining product quality and customer service standards. So, keeping employees happier at work has been shown to boost productivity by a fabulous 10 to 25 per cent. Now, who wouldn’t want that for their small business?
Two of the most important questions every small business owner asks are, “what are the new and the most important trends this year” and “how can we capitalise on them?” As you can see some of these hot trends for 2019 require vision and strategy rather than cash, which is great for keeping your business afloat and out of financial bother while you explore these new trends. Others require you to front a little more cash to realise their benefits. As always, investing in the right strategy and executing the smart way is the key to business success and financial prosperity.