As the end of the year approaches, it's always useful to take stock of how your small business did this year, and examine which upcoming trends you need to be aware of. Here are five emerging trends that will put you on track for a profitable year, right from the beginning:
1. Consider Enabling Voice-Assisted Shopping
The next big disruption in retail is just around the corner, and companies that make the leap sooner will have the advantage. Right now, almost one-fifth of adults in the U.S. have a smart speaker in their home, and the value of voice-assisted shopping is expected to go from $2 billion today to $40 billion by 2022. Remember, the same people who order products from their smart speakers are also the ones who are most comfortable talking to their smart phones, so even if you're not ready to create an Alexa "skill" or other smart speaker app, you may want to add a chatbot to your website. Today's chatbot technology has become very affordable, even for small business owners.
2. Stay on Top of Social Media Changes
You can shine on social media, because your business is already unique and personal. All you need to do is be authentic, and show your online audience who you really are. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the big three; Google is phasing out Google+ in 2019, so that's one platform you don't have to put energy into. Facebook, meanwhile, is trying hard to appeal to small business owners; in October 2018, it just launched a new tool called Creative Compass, designed to help you measure the effectiveness of your Facebook ads. Speaking of advertising...
3. Check the Effectiveness of Your Advertising Spend
It's tough for a small business to carve out money from the budget for advertising, so it's super-important that every dollar you spend is out there working for you. Of course this is a timeless issue, but today's trends are all about the digital tools that help you track your spending. From Google Analytics to Salesforce small business solutions, artificial intelligence is ready to go to work for you. Usually a year in, businesses are in search of opportunities to grow. Businesses like RapidAdvance can help you grow your business by getting you working capital sooner.
4. Update Your Content Strategy
In today's marketplace, businesses need to think in terms of staying in touch with their customers or clients across every channel. Business blogs continue to be popular in 2019, and you'll rise like cream to the top of the search rankings if you include video content in your blog. Half of all U.S. internet users view video online every day, and Content Standard recommends that you add a call to action into every video you post. To match your content strategy to the rise in smart speaker technology, podcasts are the big marketing go-to for 2019.
5. Grow Your Team
Regardless of how many employees you have, however, you'll see more productivity if you help them grow their skills and engagement. This is accomplished by approaching your management role as if you were the coach of a team. What does each team member need, in order to give their best effort? Mind Tools advocates a management model called, appropriately, GROW. This is similar to the concept of servant leadership, an older idea which is enjoying a new buzz in 2019. The focus on supporting your employees has solid behavioral science behind it, and it will improve your company's bottom line.
Being aware of trends is always helpful. Of course you can't change your entire approach to business every time a new year rolls around, but knowing the direction of the marketplace will help you keep your brand voice fresh and up-to-date.