Thinking of starting a small business?
Small businesses will never go out of style. Whether it’s earnest mom and pop stores that keep popping up all over the country in the thousands, or independent contractors who’ve slugged away for years to finally set up shop, small businesses are synonymous with hard work, diligence, and a spark of creativity. However, they can be very tricky to keep afloat. In fact, a recent study found that only a third of all small businesses will survive their tenth year in the field! This is why people looking to start a small business can often find themselves in a funk. Armed though they are with ideas and passion, they can do little to grapple with the obstacles of limited knowledge and guidance.
We’re not ones to bemoan conventional wisdom, of course, but the small business space can be scary and unforgiving. This is why wannabe entrepreneurs looking to start a small business should keep their fingers on the pulse of the latest trends and contextual cues that could help prod them along on their path to success. Last year, we brought you some Small Business Technology Trends for 2016. Now that we’re halfway into the newest year, we thought we’d round up some of the major insights we’ve gleaned from the goings-on in 2017!
When it comes to business models, bucking tradition is good
So you’ve thought about the product or service you want to provide, scraped up enough money and ordered staff tees with that logo your friend Ben made. What next? Thinking about business models is extremely important, especially for a small business just starting out. You could, of course, become a middleman, or set up a veritable marketplace of your own, bringing together buyers and sellers like Airbnb has had so much success with. However, as the last few years have shown – and as 2017 has unequivocally demonstrated – the on-demand model is extremely lucrative for businesses that are smart enough to get it right. Whether it’s the instant gratification of Netflix, or the convenience of Uber, companies realize that getting the customer what they want when they want it is crucial. This model spills over into other spheres as well, such as on-demand software (more commonly known as SaaS), which is helping millions of businesses smooth out their workflows with no setup required! Thinking of creative ways to fit your business into demonstrably successful business models, therefore, is definitely a push in the right direction.
Wrap your head around new small business policy
Being a small business owner means you have to wear a lot of hats. Some of those hats are comfy and fun, but others can pull at your hair and tug at your sanity! Clumsy metaphors aside, starting a small business will challenge you to step into spaces you might not be wholly comfortable with. You’ll have to think about how new tax reforms will affect the way your profits are taxed as compared to your salary, or how changes in climate accords would deter your ability to find new markets overseas. For example, currently small business are spending $83,000 on regulatory costs alone. Changes to these regulations will have a huge impact in the way you draw up your business plans. Staying up to date on policy issues is, therefore, a must for small business owners, especially in 2017 when so much has changed and further change is inevitable.
Marketing has changed. Have you?
Digital marketing has been going strong alongside traditional marketing for a very long time now. However, the scope of marketing continues to evolve with passing time. Social media and grassroots innovations have not just come to define marketing today, but in many ways, it is actively redefining it. This means that the product-centered marketing messages of the past have given way and new forms of communicating directly with customers have been established. While a zany viral video campaign would have been enough to turn some heads a year ago, now companies are being forced out of their comfort zones to confront something more vital – the lived experience of their consumers. Marketing is therefore now about community building, about not just superficially creating meaning but representing it. To succeed on this front, you must, therefore, ditch USPs and think instead about values.
Where’s that money going to come from?
The U.S. Bank recently released a study which claimed that 82% of businesses fail because of cash flow problems. This could be further broken down into a lot of different categories, such as poor demand, lowered disposable income, or a product that fails to push for longevity. However, in this age, small business owners can afford to be a little more creative with respect to funding. Good products helmed by smart people will always find their market! The scale and scope of production would necessarily depend on a lot of variables, but people starting a small business have so many options in 2017! Michael Banks, the founder of wealth building platform The Fortunate Investor, outlines the benefits of the ever-glamorous option of crowdfunding. He says these platforms “allow entrepreneurs to easily validate and fund a new product or service all while growing their customer base”. Therefore, play around with your funding options a bit before settling on one. At the very least, you’ll learn a lot more about your potential market!
Yes, technology is ever important
This should not come as a surprise to anyone, but it’s worth reiterating: Technology has shown to be more important than ever in the business landscape of 2017. We don’t just mean products or services geared towards the consumer market, but also the scores of software products aimed at improving workplace productivity, whether it’s through asset tracking, managing customer data, or even balancing your books. This is why it is not surprising that business IT budgets will increase by 2.7% by the end of this year across America. This is all tied into the idea that this year, small businesses will rely on AI advancements much more than they have in the past. If course, this is something giant corporations have already been doing for some time, but the proliferation of this theme into grassroots organizations can be a game-changer for the economy. In fact, AI could boost productivity by nearly 40% by 2035! If you’re thinking about starting a new business, then, perhaps think about some major time drains that could be lessened or even eliminated entirely using technology.
Read more: Client Project Tracking for Productivity
2017 is halfway to its tail end. If you’re thinking of starting a small business, there is no better time to look for answers than right now! Think about the ways new administrative policies will change the scope of your business, or the need to speak more meaningfully to your customers about your offering. Think also about the space your business can occupy in today’s vibrant technocentric community, and about the role of tradition in an increasingly rebellious 2017. Reflecting on the current context in this way can be a great learning opportunity before you embark on creating a business all your own!
EZOfficeInventory is empowering SMBs from all over the globe to cut costs, increase ROIs, and improve operational efficiency. Through constant feature releases – a lot of which are suggested by our small business customers – we aim to improve business workflows and help organizations leverage their assets for increased profits! You can try us out by signing up today for a free 15-day trial.