The last quarter of the year has been an exciting one in terms of businesses be it in marketing, technology, finance or e-commerce. During this time, the business world has seen some bold and path-breaking moves that were adopted by leading businesses throughout the globe along with the continuation of a few ongoing trends – such as that of physical outreach beyond social media, encouragement of social justice, serving a community of people instead of only potential buyers, and the like. In this era of digitalization, small businesses have taken the reign, making the best possible use of what technology has to offer in order to further expand the connection with masses around the world.
While some of this year’s trends are yet to gain ground, there are some that have proved to be instrumental for startups and small businesses in this competitive market. If you own or manage either of these two business entities, you must be at the top of your game and go above and beyond, to get into the core of things and understand the trends that drive entrepreneurial vision and profitability in these contemporary times.
Let’s dive in and walk through the 5 top startup and small business trends this year that, if embraced, can set you on the path to tactile and wholesome success:
- Putting Social Media To Use For Live Interactions
Social media is that golden ticket that is readily available to anyone and everyone but can be adapted and personalized by only a few. This year has seen a rise in the use of social media by both small as well as established businesses in order to reach the masses, far and wide. Amidst this rampant talk of likes, comments, views and more, it is possible that your busy may lose its way, fumble, and eventually lose its grip over its audience. Hence, it is not only crucial but also indispensable that you interact with your customers vis-a-vis social media and not only create, but maintain a personal communication that is founded on honesty and transparency.
In order to capitalize on the available social media currency, it is essential you conduct face-to-face interactions, conferences, professional events which promote high-value social learning. It’s great to have an online audience but it is also important to remember that it cannot wholly substitute the high impact that live interactions have, resulting in long-term benefits for your business.
In India, startup businesses like Sparks and Transedge, both operating in the marketing domain, are focused on deepening the social media connection through live interactions.
- Importance of Social Learning
With social media being such an integral element of our lives, both personal and professional, it comes as no surprise that many amongst us equate social media with social learning. After all, with the internet being a vast battlefield to absorb new information, bounce off comments, opinions and more, there must be a lot we take away from these social media platforms, isn’t it? You could not be more wrong if you thought this way. Even though both social media and social learning need a group, a community or a framework of individuals to mean anything at all, social media is the modality whereas social learning is the act that may not take place through one of these social media platforms. Forbes explains this the best – social learning can, in short, be summed up, as the social encounter between two employees at the workplace water cooler where they exchange ideas which in turn, promotes learning. A lot of companies nowadays offer online as well as remote learning through courses but that hardly facilitates learning amongst employees as a group. Likewise, it cannot be assumed that simply by being a part of Facebook or registering on Twitter one can socially learn. Social learning is a primarily a behavior, that must be taught by organizations to achieve learner engagement through an exchange of ideas and increased employee participation.
With millennials touted to make up 75 percent of the workforce, as per a report by Washington D.C. based think tank Brookings Institution, more and, more companies are keen to shunt the top-down or manual mode of training in favor of a more practical, experimental, interactive system of learning. Gamification, virtual reality and mobile learning are a few ways companies help facilitate social learning among their employees.
- Welcoming The Gen Z
The present generation of millennials is soon predicted to be outnumbered by Gen Z, the 1998 or later born who are now either entering college or the workforce. It is said that the oldest of the millennials in the present global workforce is 35. These millennials in managing positions of the company, will in future be guiding the soon-to-come Gen Z in the workforce. What we are trying to imply here that if your company is a startup of millennials (well, mostly) brace yourself to welcome this new, extremely gadget and the tech-savvy generation who are different, if not radically different, from your existing workforce. It becomes extremely crucial to understand them as employers and the possible changes they will bring to your business.
Velmenni Research and Development’s ground-breaking ideas are known to be the brainchild of, albeit not entirely, the up and coming geniuses belonging to Gen Z who see the world through differently-shaped glasses.
- Solving Solutions and Fitting Into The Customer’s Needs
After you have done your bit to market your product and/or service, the customer takes his/her own trajectory of research to find out about more about the same by scouring through your website, online reviews, and through their social networks. It is their research that will eventually lead to them making an investment. Hence, it is important for companies to know how to deal with this extremely savvy bunch of buyers. To navigate your way through this non-linear and unpredictable trajectory of research, you need to look at the wider picture and explore ways in which you can serve the community instead of just the buyers. In short, to get noticed by your ideal customer, your business ought to be able to solve a problem/challenge they face. By doing so you build trust in the whole community instead of just targeting the potential customers in a buying cycle and engaging with them only. Once you have built trust in a community, you will naturally have the trust of people engaged in the buying cycle. Companies such as E Group and Catapult New Business have seen tangible success by becoming more customer-solution oriented rather than product/feature oriented.
- Business Intelligence software
A 2017 Gallop poll revealed that around 40% of Americans now work from home, at least during a part of the week. In India, around 58% of office-goers work remotely, at least once a week, says an IWG report. While there are no astounding results in favor of the same, yet, many of those surveyed by IWG stated that they felt remote working enhanced employee productivity, retention, and creativity, fetching better returns for their companies than it would be otherwise. What’s more, this literally means fewer desks for the company to invest in, capital that could be better invested in other aspects of the business.
For startups that are constantly on the verge of a cash crunch, this is one of the biggest trends that can fetch them returns at low costs. By employing a slew of productivity and communication tools such as RealtimeBoard, Slack, Trello, Google Drive and more, and by making remote workers aware that their retention will be based on results, startups and small businesses can gain immensely by hiring from a global, diverse pool of candidates and giving a new face to their business.
MonetizeMore, TextMagic, InnovatorsBox, and Content Park are a few examples of companies that have made remote working work to their advantage via usage of the abovementioned tools.
This is 2018, no longer a time where businesses simply sold out to customers. With buyers being more aware and in control of what they buy, what they choose, and what they endorse, small companies, more than anything else, need to be on their toes and turn traditional marketing on its head, to foresee future trends, while implementing existing trends to their fullest. The challenge will be to not only stay in the game but ahead of it as well, one they must navigate wisely.
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