The turn of a new year is nearly upon us. With holiday marketing and promotional efforts likely squared away and awaiting deployment, many small businesses have the time to look back at the events of the past year and also to look forward to the next. From our perspective, here are some of the ideas and small business stories that will be making a difference in 2016.
Consumer-Controlled Content – The Story Comes First
More than ever, digital consumers are being given the tools they have long desired that enable them to control the messages they encounter on a daily basis through the internet. Don’t like a particular brand’s approach to digital advertising? Hide it from your inbox or social feed. Sick of stories about Donald Trump? Exorcise mentions of his name from your browser with a specially coded extension script. For digitally savvy small businesses, the trend toward increased curatorial agency on the part of your customers will likely mean that insightful, thoughtful or story-driven sharing will take the reins of your marketing strategy. Rather than simply advertising a sale or promotion with a link and stock photo, the onus will be on businesses to connect on a human-to-human level.
Payment Gets More Flexible – And Faster
2015 saw a lot of buzz in the world of mobile payment technologies: Square made aggressive expansions to its business model, while a host of app-centric payment options like Google Wallet have refined and broadened their services. Even popular text messaging services have begun integrating simple ways to transfer money between users. 2016 will likely see many 0f these technologies emerging from the beta phase and becoming part of shoppers’ daily tech lexicon. Your small business need not embrace each and every one of these multitude of options, lest you be caught in a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses scenario: however, familiarize yourself with the methods your customers find the most popular and convenient. Getting on board will help your business streamline its cash management and workflow while appealing to a tech-savvy demographic.
Demand for On-Demand will be Uber-high.
While it feels like a cliche to talk about “Uberization” of many business models (“There’s an Uber For That!”), it’s hard to deny the appeal of on-demand and sharing-economized services among consumers. Expect challenges and changes to the regulatory environment surrounding these controversial and popular methods of delivering goods and services. Don’t overlook the potential that on-demand models might hold for your business operations, either: reduction of overhead costs for logistics has been made possible by the democratization of these roles.
Tailor Your Business for Transition
The Canadian populace, both in general and in terms of the makeup of its small business workforce, is aging. Among the most important predictions for small business owners will be the increased value of transition planning and the provision of financial support and services for a new generation of owners with their own expectations, priorities, desires and financial disposition. Financing models will need to be structured around the needs of this new demographic. The sale and transfer of businesses will likely become a major talking point in the next year, and business owners should educate themselves on transition planning in order to ensure that the life of their business continues into a vibrant new chapter.