In the 19th century, most small businesses were farms. Today, most small businesses have Instagram accounts. Two hundred years is a long time, but that’s still an awful lot of change. And it’s not stopping – business trends change all the time and successful entrepreneurs have to keep up!
So, what’s coming down the pipeline for small businesses in 2017?
1. Say Goodbye to Paper With a Fully Digital Office
Paper is so 2016. With each passing year, physical paper appears to be going the way of the dinosaur. Modern businesses increasingly rely on software and digital management of their files. Digital, paperless offices claim to boost employee productivity, help the environment, and make the overall office more efficient.
2. Mobile Payments Will Become Standard
Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay are making credit cards and wallets obsolete. These mobile payment methods allow customers to pay quickly, on-the-go, and securely. Mobile payment revenue is becoming the norm and is expected to boom in the coming years.
Square found that in 2016 45 percent of millennials were using mobile payments for purchases. TechCrunch reports that by the end of 2017, “70 percent of mobile users will have used their mobile devices to pay.” Experts expect the upward trend to continue and report that “global sales from mobile payments to increase from $780 billion to more than $1 trillion in 2019″ according to a report from Statista.
3. Chatbots Will Change Customer Service
Technology will continue to force changes in how small businesses run their day-to-day operations. Customer service will see an evolution as “chatbots” become the norm. Chatbots are an automated program that can answer your customer’s questions about your products, their orders, and more. These programs provide a real-time, always-available customer service solution to busy small businesses, which frees up “real” employees to focus on other business needs. As chatbots get better and better at understanding what customers are asking for and providing the right answers, they’ll increasingly take over the front lines of customer service.
4. New Emerging Technologies
Artificial intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) will continue to grow in 2017. These hyper-tech fields will create new small business opportunities for entrepreneurs, as well as change the way some small companies work. AI can conduct market research and help streamline business decisions, among myriad other applications. Small businesses also have the change to take advantage of these new technologies for marketing purposes – be the first small business in your area to incorporate VR in some way and you’ll have early adopters streaming through the door to see what it’s all about!
5. Remote Employment Will Grow
Large companies have been hiring remotely for years, but only recently have smaller companies been catching up on this trend. As remote employee technology improves, workers are able to work from anywhere. Google Hangout, Skype, Slack, and other programs allow remote workers to stay in real-time touch with the home office. That makes things cheaper for you – no need to rent out enough office space for 10 people if they’re all working from home. And it often makes for happier employees, since they may have an easier time balancing childcare responsibilities, health problems, and other concerns, as well as being able to skip the commute.
6. Green Business Will Be Red Hot
More small businesses will strive to become eco-friendly in 2017. Part of this is due to the Millennials’ generational interest in the environment and conservation efforts. Part of this is due to the tax breaks and cost-cutting measures that energy efficiency can provide small businesses. Whatever the reason, green business is booming so get eco-friendly and let the world know!
7. Niche Businesses Will Flourish
In 2017, small business customers are increasingly looking for niche products or services. Many savvy shoppers look to curated products or brick-and-mortar stores to find their unique products. Small business owners should find some job security in offering niche products, since they are providing something unique. Many consumers are turning away from the mass-produced, big-box products of the past 20 years and looking for things that differentiate them from their peers (again, especially those Millennials).
8. The Cloud Will Become the Norm
The Cloud will allow small business owners to access their data and business materials on the go and anytime. The Cloud allows multi-user collaboration as well as off-site data storage, a win for small business owners. You can take advantage of the cloud to increase the efficiency of your business, making sure everyone has the info they need all the time. You can also use it to help you manage multiple locations or facilities.
9. The Number of Women-Owned Businesses Will Grow
The number of women-owned small business has grown in recent years and it shows no signs of slowing. From 1997 to 2014, the number of women-owned business has increased by nearly 70%. That trend is expected to continue to rise as more women will be starting their own companies in 2017.
Change Is The Only Constant
Small business trends for 2017 mean new technology, reduced energy and costs, and greater automation of day-to-day work. These trends are exciting – they’re giving us new opportunities and better efficiency every day. We’re ready to see what the rest of 2017 has in store!