What will be the trend that defines the life of a business in 2018? As Yoda from “Star Wars” might say—“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.”

But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth guessing. Riding the wave of momentum created by massive business trends is one way that small businesses like yours can not only survive, but thrive—especially if you have a leg up on your competition. For that reason, let’s explore the potential trends of 2018 while recapping the year that was:

The Top Small Business Trends from 2017

Before looking forward, let’s look back on the year that was and recall the trends that defined life as a small business in 2017:

2018 Small Business Trends and Predictions

What’s next in the world of small business? Your guess is as good as mine. But based on what we saw this year and what we know thus far from early 2018, we know there are some trends definitely worth watching.

Generation Z Enters the Workplace

In recent years, the news has focused on the culture of millennials—what millennials do with their savings, how millennials expect to work in the office and small business environment, etc. But millennials are older than you might thing. At the upper end, millennials are now in their mid-30s, which means they’re moving into higher-level positions while a new generation prepares to make waves.

That would be Generation Z, the first generation that will have matured in the age of the Internet. Generation Z grew up on faster connections, smarter phones, and the expectation that news is available at a moment’s notice via social media. And if you’re interested in employing young people at your business, it helps to know what Generation Z will expect in the workplace. According to Forbes, the attitudes of Generation Z are pragmatic and results-oriented, partially thanks to the experience of the Great Recession.

Fusing Markets—and Old Businesses Meeting New

Last year, Amazon made waves when it purchased Whole Foods, broadcasting an increased interest in the physical presence of retail. Walmart, a traditional retail store, has amped up its online efforts in recent years to compete with Amazon.

This fusion of old-school retail with new-school digital shopping will drive competition even in the sector of small business. Thanks to the services offered by these behemoths, 2018’s small businesses will be expected to:

Employment in the Cloud

Cloud-based software makes it possible to host a remote team of digital workers—an advantage for any small business. But given the “gig” nature of today’s economy (thanks to services like Uber and online freelancing), many aspiring workers are looking for what amounts to cloud-based employment.

Running a small business means you’ll have to hire people occasionally. If you want to hire the right people, you’ll have to compete with the benefits of what some might call “cloud employment,” which includes:

No matter what the trends of 2018 end up being, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of the world of small business. Continue to read headlines, talk to other small business owners, and follow social media as the new year develops. You’ll be glad you did.