2020 is almost here, which means that now’s the time to start thinking about capitalizing on the top trends for small business owners. Before you get ready for the year’s end, it’s the perfect time for a refresher on what’s happened in 2019—and where the winds of change are blowing for 2020:
Trend #1: Automation Software
You don’t have to look very far to find that automation has been a trend as of late. But one of the best reasons it’s an emerging trend for a small business like yours is that automation software is getting more sophisticated—and more affordable.
Whether it means automating your social media accounts with content or capitalizing on one of the top business trends with automated chat bots, automation software can give you the appearance of a much larger operation—without you having to lift a finger.
There are two areas in particular that might be good for small business owners to pay attention to, according to Entrepreneur:
- Chatbots with built-in machine learning can get started with your customers right away and only improve with time. As you tweak their messaging and allow them to interact with customers, you’ll have a head start on other businesses that haven’t utilized this technology to create fast responses with their customer service inquiries.
- Virtual assistants are more popular than ever, and one reason is that it’s easy to use an AI virtual assistant. If you can start working with AI to delegate more of your more mundane tasks sooner rather than later, you’ll have a similar head start. Imagine where you could be in 2020 with a fully automated virtual assistant.
Trend #2: The Rise of Gen Z
For years, all of the talk in marketing has been on millennials as a rising demographic with increasing purchasing power. And those millennials aren’t going anywhere. But there’s another socioeconomic trend that all business owners will have to pay attention to: the rise of Gen Z.
Gen Z—defined as those who were born in the mid-to-late 1990s and later—are now coming of age. They were raised in a world with Internet, social media, and instant access to information. As such, marketing to them is different. And while 2020 won’t necessarily be a milestone in the world of marketing to Gen Z, it’s certainly as good a time as any to start rethinking your plans.
Trend #3: Mobile Applications
E-Commerce is one of the top areas of growth right now, as you can see at Statista. But one of the top areas for growth within E-Commerce can be found within mobile applications. Simply put, more and more small businesses are selling directly to the consumer by putting themselves directly on the consumer’s smart phones.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a new business or new to digital marketing—in 2019 and 2020, it’s easier than ever to construct a mobile app of your own. There are even no-code platforms that make it possible for you to generate an app with simple drag-and-drop ease rather than diving deep into the coding. This reduces expenses and labor associated with creating a mobile application for yourself.
Trend #4: Women In Leadership
The economic playing field continues to even, and that’s great news. But it’s not just in the United States where we should expect to see this trend continue. According to Intuit, “Women, especially those in emerging markets, will be a dominant force in the global market – taking increased leadership responsibilities across business, government and education.”
Not only is this a trend a sign that we’re headed in the right direction, but it’s also good feedback that the small business landscape is changing for the better.
Trend #5: Platform Consolidation
Sound a little technical? It is. But the good news is that small business owners don’t have to worry about that side of it. Platform consolidation only refers to the infrastructure that companies are putting together to serve as complete small business platforms.
When you can manage everything—from remote workers and social media marketing to the customer experience and user reviews—from fewer and fewer platforms, your to-do list gets smaller. So does your password management file. What’s left is an easy way to interact with your business and navigate everything you need to navigate as you look to scale.
In 2020, rather than adding more to your slate, think about all of the features of the platforms you already use—and ask yourself if you can scale back on these tools by consolidating to one or two specific platforms.
Trend #6: The Gig Economy Takes Over
Of course, we’re all aware of the effects the gig economy has created in every other trend. For small businesses, it can be a competitive advantage: being able to hire someone for a brief contract that doesn’t require full-time benefits.
The only question for 2020 is: where is this trend going? Expect it to become an indispensable part of doing business, with now over 57 million participating in the gig economy in the U.S. alone. By 2023, data suggests that over half of the U.S. workforce will participate in the gig economy in some fashion.
Trend #7: User Review Management
User review management is nothing new, but as E-Commerce begins to drive retail, user reviews will become more important than ever. That means that user review management software—tools that allow you to check reviews and gather feedback—will be of increasing importance.
In today’s small business environment, user reviews are essential. 97% of people read reviews for local businesses—to say nothing of how many users will give a quick glance at the user reviews of a product before they decide to purchase online. Incorporating user review management into your business isn’t an accessory anymore. It’s a necessity.
Today’s emerging trends might not all move into 2020 with equal momentum. But pay attention to shifting demographics and emerging technology to stay on top of your game and ensure that your small business runs smoothly.