2011 has been a challenging year for small businesses. As a result, new trends appeared out of necessity or due to the tech and economic changing climates. Here are 5 small business trends to watch for:
Businesses Going Mobile
Both consumers and businesses gone completely off the edge when it comes to smart phones, and more businesses are switching from the old work-by-desk approach to the work-from-anywhere-anytime approach. A research recently published on Intuit.com discovered that 96% of small businesses use wireless devices and technology in their operations. Taking your business mobile is the smart thing to do these days since your customers are already there.
Mobile marketing and commerce is also on the rise for small businesses. There were more mobile phones being bought in the Q4 of 2010 than PCs. People are looking for places, businesses and deals on the go and small businesses that already picked up this trend are on the right track.
The Rise of Apps
Small businesses are becoming more reliant on mobile apps for day-to-day operations. 3 out of 4 businesses surveyed reported they use apps for a few reasons: it saves time, increase productivity, it’s cost saving, generates new business and helps your business look cool. There are mobile applications for any aspect of a small business: management, human resources, networking, legal, finance and productivity. Predictions are that by 2012, 50% of small businesses will use apps for their daily operations.
Year of the Groupon
Social discounts and groupons can give businesses exposure and boost sales. The economic downturn pushed many businesses to come out with groupon promos. Groupon, just a 3 year old service, has become so popular that Forbes magazine called it “the fastest growing internet company ever”. Discounts are not always a good idea, especially for upscale brand but it does bring a lot of exposure and possibly more customers. One advantage is that is sees the value of a new customer and not just revenue since these discounts sometimes mean breaking even or even a slight loss for businesses. But it’s a great marketing strategy and can create a buzz around your business and bring future customers
Going on the Cloud
Cloud computing and hosting is becoming more popular for small businesses today. As mobile as people are today, being tide to one computer is not an option anymore. With smart phones and tablets becoming more popular and sophisticated, going on the cloud is the best option for some small businesses. In a recent study conducted by Hostig.com, 80% business and IT leaders said they are considering shifting from traditional servers to cloud computing. There are many pluses to going on the cloud: it enhances coordinated team work, there is no need for physical office or meeting, it reduce costs and is fast, easy and safe, and lastly, it’s a great opportunity for growth.
Temp and Contract Workers in Demand
The economic meltdown changed the way the job market and employers see labor and employees. Employers are quick to fire and slow to hire because they haven’t gained their confidence in the economy back. As a result, scoring a permanent job is not easy these days. Since business owners are not sure if their business is ready to expend or grow, temporary workers, independent contractors and freelancers are in high demand. Employees are also going for self employment for the fear of layoffs and the instability of corporate career.
2.3 million People held a temporary job in the US in March this year and around 8.5 million were working part-time according to federal data. There is also an increase with outsourcing and sending work abroad due to low cost. Over the past decade, major American companies have cut their domestic rank by 2.9 million while adding 2.5 million jobs overseas. It’s hard to say whether this trend is good or bad, but it defiantly helps independent contractors, entrepreneurs and freelancers.
1) Entrepreneur.com: 10 Trends That Could Change Your Business
2) USA Today: Top 5 Small Business Trends
3) Open Forum: 5 Trends That Will Shape Small Business in 2011
4) NY Times: Is Groupon Good for Small Businesses?
5) CNN: The Rise of the Permanently Temporary Worker
6) Intuit: How Small Businesses Has Gone Gaga for Mobile