Every year, the economy, new consumer habits, new hardware, new software and new apps change the small business landscape. Early adopters boost their competitiveness; those lagging behind see their influence -- and often profitability -- dwindle.
While you may see a lot of trends being reported in the next few weeks, here are some to keep an eye on:
1. "Relationship Marketing"
Small businesses are increasingly shifting their focuses from customer acquisition and individual sales to customer loyalty and long-term customer engagement. In many ways, this creates and extended, unofficial safes force. For example, they either formally or informally survey their customers to discover the business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. They stay in touch with customers, often via email. They also adopt and fine-tune customer loyalty programs with helpful information or special deals, like cash incentives, referral programs, rewards or discounts.
2. Millennial Focus
The millennial generation (75.3 million Americans) has officially overtaken the baby boomers (74.9 million Americans) as the largest single group of consumers today. Because they grew up with them, millennials are tremendously reliant on their mobile devices. It's no wonder that this year, Google announced that mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic. Wise business owners take these facts into account, and know that their websites are mobile-optimized.
3. Localized Targeting
Twice in the last 18 months, Google has updated its search algorithm by placing greater emphasis on ranking local, relevant businesses. Those who have been quick to list their businesses in local online directories and ratings services have enjoyed greater prominence in search engine results. Expect many businesses (which haven't caught on to this fact) to make greater online localized efforts in 2016.
Continued hikes in health care costs, and pressures to enhance employee salaries and benefits for better employee recruitment, are taking a significant toll on business' bottom lines. To help alleviate these concerns, employers are increasingly outsourcing functions like accounting, marketing, human resources, secretarial, data entry, sales and IT services.