It’s a new year, and that means many business owners are busy planning for the months ahead. While you’re in the midst of finalizing your New Year’s resolutions for your business, it’s a good time to familiarize yourself with the upcoming trends expected to impact businesses both big and small in 2019.
To keep you apprised of what to expect from the year ahead, we’ve compiled a short list of key trends experts have forecasted for the year ahead.
1. Voice search
As sales of of smart home assistants continue to soar (we’re talking to you, Google and Alexa), the importance of voice search has increased for entrepreneurs. ComScore predicts that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020 and Google just announced that its voice assistant will be available on 1 billion devices by the end of Jan. 2019—which means small businesses need to make sure people can find them.
To help potential customers locate your products and services using voice search, you’ll need to implement a few SEO strategies to optimize your content.
2. More discerning, modern customers
Your customers are more empowered than ever. Most markets are saturated, which means customers have the power to be more demanding and discerning. As a result, customers have higher expectations and can easily take their business elsewhere if a brand doesn’t meet those evolving demands.
So, how can small businesses keep up? According to a recent Salesforce study titled “State of the Connected Customer,” there are a few things entrepreneurs need to keep in mind when catering to discerning customers:
- Personalization matters. Customize your communications, campaigns, products, and/or services. Customers are more than twice as likely to view personalized offers as important versus unimportant.
- Keep your offerings fresh. More than half (63%) of customers expect companies to provide new products/services more frequently than ever before.
- Customer service keeps them loyal. Fifty-seven percent of customers have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience, and another 62% said they share those bad experiences with others.
3. Technology won’t replace humans (yet)
We’ve heard plenty about the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), particularly machine learning, over the past few years. But here’s the thing: While automation is making many of our jobs easier, robots won’t be replacing all the humans in the workforce just yet.
While we’ve seen amazing advances in how different industries are using this tech, it’s most useful as a way to augment the work we do. For example, retailers are using Big Data to glean insights from order histories to improve their customer loyalty programs. However, retail brands still need well-versed employees to maintain a great customer experience—whether that’s answering questions about products or making personalized recommendations.
4. Employers will hire more remote workers
Telecommuting isn’t exactly a new trend. While some employers have gone back and forth over the practice of letting staff work from home for years, there’s now more evidence that remote workers are just as productive (if not moreso) than those working in traditional office environments.
According to a study from Stanford, remote workers typically put in a full day’s worth of worth (or more) on weekdays partially thanks to a lack of a commute. Work-from-home employees also are less likely to leave their employer—in the study, attrition dropped by half for businesses that employed remote staff. In that test group alone, businesses saved almost $2,000 per employee in retention costs and another $1,400 on average in operating expenses (since remote workers don’t take up office space).
Between these benefits and much-improved technology making it easier to telecommute, more small businesses are expected to be remote-friendly in 2019.
Because of the potential cost-savings, remote workers can be a viable option even for solo-entrepreneurs. Whether that’s delegating creative work to an off-site designer or writer or hiring a virtual assistant to take care of administrative work, small business owners have a number of options when hiring remote workers.
Want to learn more about outsourcing some of your tasks? Check out our post on when to hire a contractor.
Moving forward: Paying mind to small business trends in 2019
A new year inevitably means new challenges. And when it comes to keeping your small business running, there’s often already too many tasks for one person to manage. That includes keeping up with industry trends that impact your business.
Now that you understand a few of the major predictions forecasted to affect entrepreneurs this year, you can prepare yourself and your business appropriately.
The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.