Four business trends to watch in 2018

We’re a couple of weeks into the new year and (I hope!) back into work after that first week of intense goal setting, so let’s take a look at the trends to look out for this year.

The growth of social media communities and live video

Our use of technology has increased dramatically in recent years, but we still want to connect with human beings. Patience with businesses who did little but broadcast content on social media dropped significantly in 2017. At the same time, live video became quick, easy and accessible to anyone with a smartphone. These trends coming together in 2018 mean we can connect using technology but on a more human level than ever before.  Smart brands will be tapping into live video within online communities to build relationships. Then when those people meet for real, they already know one another.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence will increasingly be used to perform mundane, repetitive task that have been done by humans up until now. If that sounds daunting, then it needn’t be.  According to economic consultant Andrew Charlton, there’s no need to fear AI because it will make businesses more efficient and free up us humans to do more interesting work.

You can find examples of how you could tap into AI in your small business in this article on the Internet of Things.

A new generation is coming of age

There’s no doubt you’ve heard a lot about millennials over the last few years! Their buying habits, their work ethic and much more. In fact, the oldest millennials are now thirty-five and Generation Z (born from 1998) are starting to join the workforce, which means they have money to spend. Generation Z is the first one to have grown up with hand-held devices as the norm rather than a cool new gadget. How will they change the world? Only time will tell.

Sophisticated consumers

Today’s buyers are sophisticated consumers who already know all about your product’s features and benefits before they come to buy it. That means the buyer’s journey is no longer linear and businesses now need to meet their consumers where they are. Businesses need to be thinking in terms of developing communities (yes, communities again!) where there are a mix of buyers, experts and people who are just learning about what you do. The aim is to serve your community whether they are ready to buy or not.

Following on from this, businesses also need to think beyond selling benefits and features, and towards customer experience. Customers are looking for shared values and experiences, so think about using  storytelling and gathering your community together at events.

So there you have it, some business trends to look out for in 2018.

Image: nastya_gepp

Four Areas You Should Grow Your Business In 2018

January is always going to be a month filled with promise and motivation. So many people feel the need to move forward, not only in their personal goals, but also with careers and business. A lot of people start businesses this month, or at least a draw a line in the sand in regards to previous growth and results and look at ways to expand and move a business forward. So what areas should you be looking at if you are serious about moving your business forward? I thought it was an ideal time to share with you four of them that could prove successful for business growth this year.

Image: Startupstock

Social media channels

Social media is always going to be a powerhouse of advertising for your business, but are you really making the most of the platforms available to you? Facebook by far is one of the best ways to market a business with over 1.3 billion people using it each day. A quick focus on your  Facebook marketing strategies could highlight some of the areas you may not be focusing on enough, or even try and pinpoint the type of content shared on this social media platform that works for you. Instagram may mean that you want to improve photography. Even trying out new methods of sharing such as live video, edited videos on YouTube, or even other platforms like Snapchat, could help you reach a wider audience of potential customers.

Expanding locally

It is a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. The need to shop small or stay local can really work in your favour, if your market it correctly. This could mean seeking out opportunities of advertising with local events. Joining forces in the way of sponsorship with local charities, and making your company known while helping out the local community or charity of your choice. It can be a great way to become the expert in your field locally, and could open up a whole new customer base.

Improving your ecommerce site

Shopping online is the way forward for some, and there isn’t any hiding from the fact that so much is done by a click and a swipe of the smartphone. So you may really need to consider focusing some time and energy into your ecommerce site. Is it easy to use? Does it have easy payment methods and the fintech needed to support it? Could you extend further from this and have your own app? These are all valid things to consider.

Working on repeat business or referrals

Finally, you may already have a great advertising opportunity sat in your current customer base. How often do you explore the opportunity for repeat business? Or if your product and service is a one time thing, then what about bonuses for referring new customers and clients? Exploring your current customer base could create new opportunities for your business.

I hope that these options give you something to consider to grow your business this year.

Can You Really Do It Yourself In The Business World?

One of the most exciting things for a lot of people is the fact that, thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier for individuals to set up their own businesses without large teams or huge amounts of capital. All you really need to get started is a computer with an internet connection, a great idea, and the drive to turn that idea into something real. However, while you might be able to create a business that way, is it possible to create a successful business that way? The reality is that making any business into a genuine success is something that takes so much knowledge and effort than doing it on your own can be incredibly difficult. With that in mind, here are some ways that your business can succeed with the help of outside organisations and individuals.

Developing and growing your business

image: lukas

The reality of any business is that there are few things more important than being able to help it grow and expand. Of course, being able to do this is most certainly easier said than done. Not only can it be a challenge to grow your business at all but doing so in a sustainable and manageable way can be a serious challenge. That’s where working alongside companies that offer business development services can come in incredibly useful. That way you can be sure that your business never stagnates and is always moving in the right direction.

Managing your accounts

Accounting is one of the most important aspects of just about any business, but it’s also something that ends up being neglected by a lot of small business owners. The problem there should be obvious. Ignoring your accounts can potentially get you into some serious financial and legal hot water. By hiring an accountant to take care of your accounts for you, you’re going to be able to focus your energy on other things while being sure that your business is financially secure.

 

Maintaining your online presence

Image – fancycrave

Considering how many modern businesses are specifically constructed around the internet, if you don’t have a carefully curated and maintained online presence then your business is going to suffer for it pretty heavily. It might seem like keeping on top of things like your website, your blog, and your various social media pages shouldn’t be that much of a challenge but in reality that can be enough to take up pretty much all of your time. Because of that, working alongside a company that can help to maintain your online presence is key to being able to reach and connect with as many customers as possible.

The idea of handing over aspects of your business to other people can be pretty scary for a lot of people since part of the reason that they set up their own business was to be able to exclusively do things on their own terms without having to worry about other people giving their opinions. However, to assume that you’re the only person who knows what’s best for your business is pretty misguided and the truth is that getting an outside perspective really can be the best thing for your business as a whole.

It’s Time To Expand

You should come to a point with your business when you know it’s time to expand. If you don’t feel as though you’ve got to this point yet, you need to take a step back and consider a few things. Are you at the top of the game in your area? Are sales going through the roof? Is profit looking so good you’ve never been happier? Well then it is time to expand to help that profit margin rise and rise. But it can often be scary when it comes to expanding. You’ve been safe and happy where you’ve been for years, so going into uncharted waters is intimidating. But don’t worry, we’re here to relax some of your nerves and tell you why expansion is going to be the best thing for you.

Image: Geralt

Nationally

Expanding nationally is not as hard as internationally (see the next paragraph), but it can still be hard to navigate. Having another business site within the same company makes things much more efficient, and allows for you to create double the revenue in theory. The only thing you need to be sure of is that you situate it in the right place for trade, and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Make sure you’re sticking within the confines of your budget, and make sure it is definitely going to increase profits in the long run. Spreading nationally isn’t going to exactly get you more trade, only help you to produce it. It’ll also help to spread the word about your business even further, especially if you go into a big city.

Internationally

Internationally is going to be one of the scariest things you’ll ever do when it comes to your business. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do, but there’s plenty of people out there who will help and advise you along the way. The great thing about going international is that it will encourage new trade deals and in turn, more profit. International import and export is a risky move. You’re putting a lot of money into the hope that you will in turn, make lots of money. So it is important to do plenty of research before hand with regards to where you want to base yourself, who you’re going to trade with, and how much trade it will ultimately bring in. You also want to make sure the economies of the countries you’re willing to trade with is stable.

Employees

The last thing you can expand is your team itself. Your employees are the people who make you the most money, the more you have the more money you’re going to make. They should always be your most valued assets, and you should always be doing everything you can to keep them happy. When hiring, make sure you’re making the right decision about who to hire and where to put them. Create new jobs where you think you need them the most. It might be on the production line, or it might even be a management role!

If You Aren’t Taking Care Of Your Employees, Your Business Can Never Succeed!

The reality of running a business is that if every single aspect of it isn’t working together in unison, then the entire thing is likely to collapse in on itself. However, it’s worth remembering that certain parts of your business are going to be more valuable than others. Few business owners would disagree with the fact that their employees are almost certainly the most important resource in their business, responsible for taking all of the plans and ambitions that you might have and turning them into something real. And yet, despite this knowledge, far too many employees neglect to take proper care of their employees. If you do that, then you’re letting your entire business down and putting it in real danger. With that in mind, here are some ways to make sure that your employees are properly taken care of.

Financial security

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If there’s one thing that every employee needs at the very least, it’s a sense of financial security in the workplace. If you aren’t paying close attention to employee financial wellbeing, then you’re letting them down as well as putting your business in a dangerous position. If you’re not taking care of your employees on a financial level, then there’s a chance that you could be operating in a rather unpleasant area of illegality. Paying a fair wage for each and every one of your employees really is the bare minimum that you should be doing on a daily basis.

Workplace safety

Health and safety is one of those things that a lot of business owners tend to avoid thing about because, in an ideal world, those kinds of procedures simply wouldn’t be necessary. However, if something does happen to one of your employees and you didn’t put the procedures in place that could have prevented it, you’re the one who’s going to be liable for it. Creating a safe and secure workplace for all employees if your responsibility and it’s one that you simply cannot neglect.

Image: Rawpixel

A zero tolerance attitude toward discrimination

No one should come to work afraid of the way that they’re going to be treated, especially based on things like the colour of their skin, their gender, their religion, and their sexual orientation. You need to be sure that any discrimination, bullying, or harassment of any kind in your business is snuffed out as quickly as possible and that each and every employee knows that you will have no tolerance whatsoever for it. Allowing those kinds of things to carry on is just going to make your business a horrible and uncomfortable workplace for employees who might be a little more vulnerable on a personal and societal level.

You might consider yourself to be the most important person in your business as the one at the very top, but you should never lose sight of the fact that, without your employees, you wouldn’t really have a business in the first place. Make sure that they know how much you appreciate them and never let yourself take them for granted.