Reuben J. DeTiege, II. is an economic development expert whose mission to promote positive outcomes, understanding and appreciation has translated into a full-time career. His boundless passion for the subject stems from his own diverse business background. Reuben has spent over 20 years supporting organizations in the development of small and emerging business.
So here are the seven trends happening now that you can’t afford to ignore:
1. The cloud. Although social media and mobile get more buzz, the great change-maker for small business comes from the cloud. Using Internet-based applications to run your business rather than locating those applications on your servers or hard drives sounds pretty dull, doesn’t it?
2. Social media. Social media is hot right now, and small companies are entranced with the idea of it. But they’re also a bit mystified. Social media offers the possibility of inexpensive ways to reach and interact with customers, but it seems like it takes up a lot of time with a very uncertain return on that investment. Keep watching because this year will see the emergence of more easy-to-use tools that help you reach highly targeted customers. More small businesses will embrace a wide variety of social media platforms, and Google+ will become a significant player.
3. Mobile. The mobile juggernaut continues in 2012, both for running your business and reaching customers. Smart businesses increasingly will use mobile solutions for a raft of business functions. One technology that will explode: accepting payments on smartphones, with tools such as Square (squareup.com). Expect to see more independent contractors, service businesses, and entrepreneurs at crafts fairs and farmers markets getting paid that way. Look for greater embrace of mobile marketing, such as offering deals when people check in on FourSquare. And more companies will embrace the power of being untethered from an office, running operations on the go,especially when using cloud-based applications and tools.
4. Hiring. Small companies already have picked up their hiring. The past couple of years, workers have been “on sale” because of high unemployment, making it possible for small companies to land great employees at lower costs. As corporations start hiring again, smaller companies will have to scramble. Consider college graduates from the past three years who have been underemployed. They can make great entry-level employees, and big corporations focus mostly on current graduates.
5. Credit. Credit has been tough for small businesses for years now. But it will get slightly better this year, making it a bit easier for healthy companies with strong customer demand to expand.Small businesses with less than stellar balance sheets will have to find other sources of money to grow. Work with community banks that are receptive to local businesses.
6. Analytics. One of the great things about cloud applications is they not only give you data, they give you reports. You can see response in real time to actions you take. For example, in my company we send three monthly newsletters. I can see exactly how many people opened it, which articles they read, which products interested them. Knowledge is, as they say, power.
7. Global. You may not be a global business yet, but I’m guessing you may be soon. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to meet many American small-business owners who have grown their businesses by going international. I’ve even heard of someone who exports miniature golf courses. Think outside the box by thinking outside our borders.
- How Small Business Owners Become Cyber Victims (informationweek.com)
- Why Small Businesses Should Use the Cloud (bizfilings.com)
- Does My Small Business Really Need a Website? [VIDEO] (reachlocal.com)