While change appears to happen very quickly, trends generally take a long time to become mainstream.
Mobile computing, for example, is on the 2008 list and most of the other lists.
And it's mentioned below.
So as you look through the list, keep in mind that the future doesn't change much year to year and while the pace of change is fast, it's not as fast as we think.
Digital Transformation: Cloud computing, mobile computing, social technologies and data and analytics have matured to the point where we’re seeing a fundamental transformation in how business is conducted. Small businesses are becoming digitally savvy, increasing their efficiency, ability to serve their customers and improving their competitive position. This digital transformation will continue to accelerate in 2017 and SMBs who do not keep up with the pace of change will be increasingly disadvantaged.
Cyber Security and Data Privacy: We’ve had cyber security and data privacy in some form on our list of the top small business trends for several years. 2017 is the year we expect mainstream small businesses to recognize that cyber security and data privacy are important parts of business risk management and take steps to improve in this area.
SMB Globalization: Despite the backlash against globalization and international trade, exports by small, micro and even solopreneur businesses will continue to expand in 2017. Digital, global platforms such as Amazon, Ebay and others will continue to drive down the costs, knowledge and effort associated with exporting. Powered and enabled by these platforms, growing numbers of SMBs will access and serve buyers of goods and services around the globe.
The Million Dollar Solopreneur: We’ve borrowed this phrase from author and journalist Elaine Pofeldt, who will be releasing a book on this topic in 2017. This trend refers to the rapidly growing numbers of people choosing to use outsourcing, contingent labor and Internet services and platforms instead of traditional employees to build their businesses. We agree with Elaine that this growing trend will accelerate in 2017.
Corporations Embrace Freelancers: This year will see an inflection point in terms of major corporations embracing freelance talent. After studying and testing the use of freelancers (called “agile talent” and “contingent labor” by corporations) for several years, 2017 will see the corporate use of agile talent increase and become mainstream. This will, of course, increase the demand for independent workers.
SMBs Develop Platform Strategies: Platforms such as Amazon, Etsy, Intuit Quickbooks, etc. provide SMBs “plug-and-play” access to world class business infrastructure on a variable cost basis. These platforms provide a wide range of valuable services including access to customers, cloud computing resources, manufacturing, warehousing, shipping and even talent. Platforms have become so important that small businesses need a platform strategy. For most this will consist of identifying the best platforms to participate in and the right ecosystem role to play. These decisions will increasingly play a key role in small business success.
Business Coaches Go Mainstream: One of our most surprising (at least to us) 2016 research findings was the extent to which successful small businesses are using coaches. We knew business coaching had developed into a big business, but we had under estimated how widespread coaching had become. Due to the growing complexity of business and the rapid pace of change, coaching will become even more common as more SMBs seek help on working through complex problems quickly.
The New Better Off: This is the title of a book that describes how many are reinventing the American dream. In this new approach, bigger isn’t always better, wealth isn’t equated with happiness and experiences are more important than things. We’ve been tracking trends related to this for over a decade and we’ve seen a strong acceleration in new ways people are seeking happiness and fulfillment (Hygge being a recent example). This shift will continue to grow in 2017.
Coconut Everything: OK, this is not our trend. It comes from Whole Foods Top 10 Food Trends of 2017. Evidently pretty much any food product you can think of - natural beauty products, flours, tortillas, chips, ice creams, butters and many more – will be coconutized and join coconut oil and coconut water as popular products in 2017.
President-Elect Donald Trump: There’s a lot of speculation about how President-Elect Trump, a pro-business, anti-regulation, populist and his administration will impact small businesses. While too early to tell, it’s likely SMBs will see reduced regulatory burdens, tax cuts and a more pro-business attitude from DC. Because of the lack of specificity around potential programs, small businesses will need to pay attention to what’s going on in DC over the next year to stay on top of changes.
While mobile app development is certainly a huge industry right now, that’s actually not what we mean here. In this case, we’re talking about businesses that travel to their customers, offering their products and services wherever the customer happens to be.As we all become more and more used to having everything accessible instantly and at our convenience, businesses on the move have hit the forefront of the most profitable industries in 2016 and beyond. Check out these mobile business ideas to help you take advantage of this emerging trend:
Taking a car to the shop for simple repairs can be a challenge. After all, most of us use our cars to get from place to place! That means taking a car in for repairs often either involves a long wait at the repair shop, renting a vehicle for the day, or coordinating a ride with a friend or spouse. Unless…
While some repair jobs do require the equipment of an auto shop to complete, there are plenty of maintenance and repair services that need just a few simple tools to complete. If you’re skilled as a mechanic, consider going mobile with your services—offering oil changes, fluid refills, battery swaps, headlight repair and more right in your customer’s driveway or office parking lot.
The foodie movement continues to grow in 2016, with more and more styles of cuisine offered in unique venues. But as rent in major cities increases, it’s becoming more difficult for up-and-coming specialty food artisans to finance a brick-and-mortar location in the bustling centers of town—where their customers are most likely to be.
The answer? Food trucks! Hit the road and park yourself at local events, farmer’s markets, the local town square—wherever you’re likely to draw a crowd. The lower overhead and increased geographic versatility of a food truck means you can turn your grandma’s famous dumpling recipe or that off-the-wall dessert idea into its own thriving business.
Keep in mind that bigger, trendier cities like San Francisco, Portland, and Boston already have a pretty saturated food truck market—so you might be more successful in a smaller heartland metropolis. Food trucks also tend to have their own special set of ordinances and safety compliance standards, so contact your local health department to find out what will be required.
CAR WASH SERVICES
Who wants to drive across town to get their car washed when you could be on your couch binge-watching House of Cards? As a mobile car wash and auto detailing service, you wouldn’t only benefit from the unique value proposition of being mobile, but you’d also avoid the significant overhead and startup cost of having a physical location.
Not sure how to start your own mobile car wash service? Don’t panic! There are a variety of online wholesalers that offer auto detailing start-up kits as well as training for those interested in starting their own business in this niche industry.
If you’ve looked up from your own mobile device lately, you’ve probably noticed that most Americans these days are more than a little bit obsessed with our electronics. This widespread tech addiction means that when something goes wrong, people tend to freak out.
Enter… You! The solution for every broken iPhone screen, WiFi card, and laptop battery. And if you’re willing to travel to your customer? You’ve got an instant hit! (Because who really wants to stand around by a kiosk in the mall?)
While a mobile electronics repair business involves some overhead in the form of purchasing supplies, keeping your business mobile saves you from the high overhead cost of a physical location. That means more profit in your pocket!
As you probably know from hours spent with your grandparents, electronics that don’t seem to be working are usually actually not in need of repair. Not everyone in the world is naturally tech savvy, and when things go wrong, often the free customer phone support provided by manufacturers doesn’t exactly feel supportive.
If technology comes easily to you—and you’re a relatively patient person—then consider hitting the road, at least in your neighborhood, with mobile IT support. All you need is time, transportation, and your own know-how—so this low-overhead business model is almost pure profit.
Turning your love of fitness into a career doesn’t have to mean working for a big corporate gym—nor do you need the overhead of have your own location to train clients. Throw a few weights, bands, and yoga mats into the trunk of your car, and take your fitness show on the road!
Offer one-on-one sessions in your clients’ homes or advertise group classes at a local park or community center. Making fitness more available to your clients might just be the ticket to helping both of you achieve your goals.
In today’s ever-changing business climate, keeping your customers is important to your organization’s success. This is especially challenging for small businesses that often lack the staff and resources required to provide necessary support for current and potential customers. One solution is using a CRM system to help automate tasks and streamline sales and marketing efforts. Here we evaluate what small businesses should look for before considering a CRM system.
If you’re a small business owner, one thing is certain: You encounter change and new challenges every day. But through all of the uncertainty, there is one thing that remains consistent—the importance of keeping your customers happy. Study after study shows customers do care about them and show they’re your top priority.
This isn’t the easiest task, because satisfied customers require a lot of attention. As a small business, you may not have the time, staff, or resources to devote this amount of attention to your customer base. Therefore, it makes sense to have a system to help manage those relationships. The obvious solution is to invest in a CRM platform. CRM makes it possible to easily keep track of hundreds of thousands of individual customer preferences and histories, all while coordinating across multiple departments. In essence, CRM means happier customers, and better returns overall.
But even once you’ve decided that you may need a CRM system, you’re still left with the problem of selecting one that has all of the features you need. What should you be looking for? If you’re a small business considering CRM, it’s a good idea to put these seven features on your checklist, even before contacting CRM companies for proposals:
Software or Cloud-based?
Or, in other words, on-premise or off-premise? Perhaps the most important thing to contemplate first is exactly how much data you need to manage. Hardware has its own set of hurdles, as does software. Cloud computing eliminates having to deal with software issues, and the shared infrastructure means it works much like a utility — you pay for what you need and get automatic upgrades and more without having to install and test run everything.
Although the basic focus of every CRM is the same, each individual platform is likely to have its own distinct set of features. Much like when shopping for a car, you’ll need to research and compare the specific features of each available CRM. Your CRM should come with certain must-haves on your list. See who delivers on their promises, and what system would fit your needs. Everything from lead management and marketing automation to sales data and mobile access should be key factors at decision time.
You are a business-oriented person, which means that the question that is probably on your mind right now is this: “What’s the CRM going to cost me?” The price range for CRM extends across the entire board, and there are even CRM solutions that can be used free of charge. However, if your business needs additional features, many effective CRM plans start as low as $10 per user, per month. Once you determine your needs, you’ll be able to get a realistic picture of corresponding price points that meet your company’s budget. As with anything else, the “you get what you pay for” rule applies here. So, if you want more support and options, you should be ready to pay for it. Your business is worth it.
Most CRMs are solutions that are customizable to your needs. Customization is simply modifying or expanding the behavior of out-of-the-box functionality. It can be minor, like changing the location of a text screen, or extensive, like creating brand new applications unrelated to sales. When aligning your company with the right CRM, make sure to find out how rich the customization is to meet your needs, both today and down the road.
A CRM is an investment, and is perhaps one of the most important investments your company will make. Therefore, it’s vital to have consistent information and support at your disposal at all times. From online tools and training, to app development and 24/7 support, reliable customer service should be part of your CRM purchase.
As your business grows, the relationships you build with your customers needs to grow right along with it. Your CRM needs to have the capacity to scale to the largest of teams, and the architecture behind the service to be able to handle millions of users. You’ll want something to scale as rapidly as you require, so this is another important feature to look for.
Finally, get real feedback by considering CRM software reviews from vendors, administrators, and industry experts. Today, you’re faced with a lot of CRM options, so a review may help you narrow down your options. After discussing what makes the most sense with your team, dig into online reviews, keeping in mind that not every CRM is equal. See if important questions and concerns are addressed by the sources available.
Congratulations. You’ve considered the prerequisites for what a CRM for your business requires. After satisfying everything on your checklist, it’s time to begin a dialogue and schedule proposals with a CRM provider that can fulfill all your needs, meet your budget, and move with you through all the changes—not just today or for the next few months, but for years to come. Aligning yourself with the right CRM may be the most important business decision you’ll ever make.
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