2018 is set to be a great year for small business owners all across the nation. With stocks soaring, unemployment steadily dwindling, business confidence at an all time high and opportunity knocking at every corner, the outlook has never been so good for many entrepreneurs. This year just might be the best we’ve seen in a long time, but there are going to be new trends to get used to in order to be as successful as you can if you are a small business owner.
The Trends of 2018
Catering to Millennials
We cannot have a business discussion in 2018 without mentioning the $600 billion dollar (and rising) market that is the Millennials. If you want a piece of that pie, you need to focus your marketing on this crowd connecting to your brand. You need a deeper, more experiential focus. Many businesses are going to profit big on a niche market. If your business name has buzzwords like microbrew or artisan, you are definitely on the right track with this group. They want to feel special, especially since they’re used to always getting a participation trophy.
Made in America
Perhaps one of the most recognizable and understood slogans of recent history was (and still is) Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign. Whether you like his administration or not, his first year in office has definitely made some waves for the economy and brought many jobs and investments back to this land. His administration has made changes to trade agreements and re-examined tariffs that have people paying close attention to products being able to be made in America again. As a small business owner, this could mean not having to outsource any part of your company offshore and continuing your effort to keep your company involved in the local community, as much as possible.
Popularity of Contract Workers
A very cost-effective way for some businesses to thrive is on their ability to use contract workers. Instead of hiring full-time employees that need benefits and a babysitter, contract workers are used in a much more efficient manner. They’re affordable, flexible and usually do a better job at the project you need them for. In fact, 42% of employee based businesses already are using contract workers, and that number keeps on rising.
Physical cash is becoming less and less popular. More and more transactions are taking place online and with credit cards, that there’s almost no reason to carry cash these days. Apps are becoming popular with payments options and tips. Going cashless can also be safer and more efficient for bookkeeping when it comes to your small business. Many customers are beginning to expect a cashless way to pay, so now is the time get onboard.
Looking back at 2017, America definitely struggled through some very tough natural disasters. Hurricanes and wildfires did a ton of damage. These types of crises have many business owners wondering if they could withstand a total loss. Many business owners may not know if they have their data backed up and how they would maneuver through a significant loss should they have to deal with a crisis or natural disaster. Your best bet is to make sure you are prepared now, so you don’t have to scramble later. You can learn more about disaster prevention and prep here.
The Bad News in 2018
Early this year Facebook announced that users would start seeing less ads. Some people jumped for joy, while many small business owners started growling in disgust. Ads are expensive as they are, but to know that your audience size may dwindle down even lower is frustrating. Some people have pledged to move on to other social media platforms. It will take some more time before we see the true effect on this change.
Hacking is on the rise
As we continue to put more and more data online, it only increases your chance of getting hacked. It might be your personal information or your business that gets hacked, but it’s happening exponentially. Companies that lose your information are not punished very harshly, so there’s little incentive to keep your personal information locked down. The problem is that many consumers don’t think about being hacked until it happens to them. This year it will happen, so your best bet is to get protected and find a security plan for your personal information and your business.
The Year Ahead
As we move further into what should be a positive year for small business owners, no one can completely predict how everything will flow. Your best bet this year is to stay protected, educated and be as flexible as you can be. When you see a changing of the tide, just roll with it. Successful small businesses will be prepared, focused and ready to take any changes that may or may not happen in 2018.