5 Key Small Business trends to watch in 2018

Mar 15, 2018 | Small Business Finance

Small business trends are well and truly into play for 2018, as we see these filter down into a number of key areas where SMEs should pay attention to. to. Australia’s economic and political environment does impact all levels of society, whether individuals, families or companies large and small. Small business trends start to have momentum when policies that are set by the current government start to take affect, and the legal framework dictates how  business owners operate. The two global superpowers of the USA and China also influence local market trends and affect consumer sentiment, employment and spending confidence.

1. Small business trends – Artificial Intelligence

In 2018, more small business trends in AI will develop further as business owners embrace an important competitive tool, using it to automate mundane administrative tasks and unlock customer insights

Big data for small business has been around for a while, however, most business owners are not utilizing this valuable resource or know how to tap into this huge database for market intelligence and staying ahead of the competition. Government departments around the world have opened up data sets which is easily available through the IoT to assist businesses of all sizes to make highly informed and strategic decisions.

Targeted intelligence through beacon technology and location services in retail is used to track in-store customer movements, push mobile offers and figure out floor plan hot spots. This buying data can be used to present customers with more targeted offers, improve conversion rates and loyalty programs. 2018 will see the end of the experimental phase of AI and the beginning of applying artificial intelligence to solve the most soul-crushing marketing problems.

2. Small business trends – Agile adoption of technology

Millennial consumers are driving this small business trend in going cashless. Small business has jumped on board as there are benefits in streamlining bookkeeping, carrying less cash, and giving customers more payment options. It’s how the younger generation want to pay. We see more confidence with cashless payments across the retail sector. Choices abound with Apple Pay to Square to QuickBooks and  GoPayment, you now have a plethora of options if you want to explore digital transactions.

Typically, the huge corporate ship is slow to turnaround and small businesses are much faster to adopt new technologies or enter new markets than larger enterprises. Staying abreast with changes in consumer trends and new ways to do business is essential for all businesses to survive the digital disruption of the 21st century.

Another small business trend with SMEs is through cloud technology, which is easily adopted and implemented via cloud-based applications to run everything from accounting and storage, to payroll, job management and marketing.

Adopting LEAN automating tasks to reduce costs and time drain on business owners. Outsource to allow more time to work on growth activities instead of grinding away in the business.  Small businesses are the engine room of the Australian economy; they generate more than 40% of GDP and are major job creators, an agile business can more readily adjust to the winds of change.

3. Small business trends – Innovation as a key driver

Disruptors are innovators, or is it the other way around? Small business trends over the last 10 years have produced global companies from innovations and disruptions where they both are makers and builders of new markets. Disruption uproots existing thinking, behaviors, business practices, and everyday activities. Disruption displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new. At first met with trepidation and scepticism, the benefits of the disruption become widely accepted and entrench itself in our everyday psych.

The sharing economy effortlessly adopted by millennial’s will fuel disruption into more industries. Uber does not own a vehicle and is known and used globally, and retail giant Amazon is making serious disruptions and turning the retail industry on its head, the newspaper and news media industry are desperately trying to stay relevant as Google, Facebook and Twitter broadcast current and breaking news instantly.

Small business trends in machine learning and block-chain will see exponential grow with innovation, were block-chain and machine learning will further disrupt financial markets and keep regulators on their toes to protect consumers. Machine learning can lower costs and increased availability of speech analytical tools to allow more companies to record and monitor calls within their customer contact departments.

4. Small business trends – Align social and business purpose

Small business trends in social and business alignment have become more important as the information age have produced highly educated and savvy buyers than ever before.  21st century buying habits are based social media influences and trending posts, who its activities align with, and less on tricky sales tactics and loyal customers.

Through social media consumers have a voice and large corporations have tripped and brands have been tarnished as the consumer has the last word.  Combining commercial practices, awareness with social issues and delivering a more authentic customer experience that align with the business’ purpose.  Small business viability can be strengthened when coupled with a strong community focus or interest.

Increasingly, the story behind a business brand, its origins, and its owners becomes as important as the logo, the products, and the customer service. It’s also an opportunity to build a community of consumers around a small business trend which can significantly amplify its brand. Social advertising will become more competitive. Studies show paid social ads in Facebook for 2018 will become far more competitive. Facebook small business trends in online advertising is not over yet, and the company is growing its business advertisers at a massive pace.

5. Small business trends – Fin-tech global payments 

Global fin-tech investment has been on a tear over the past several years and 2017 was no exception. With an unprecedented amount of funding in fintech, 2018 could be the year that the era of fintech unbundling heads for rebundling. Investors deployed $16.6B across 1,128 deals to VC-backed fin-tech companies“. According to CBInsights Global Fin-tech report Q4 2017. Here are some highlights from the report;

  • Investors pulled away from early-stage fin-tech investing. Early-stage fin-tech deal share dropped to a 5-year low in 2017. The US saw the largest pullback in early-stage deals.
  • Financing shifted away from Asia-based fintech companies. While Asia dipped, Europe saw funding grow 121% year-over-year and the US hit a new annual high.
  • Investors made more concentrated bets in fintech. There was a record of 35 mega-rounds ($100M+) investments to established fintech companies.

This report also focuses on global fintech trends in 2018, including developments in wealth management, insurance, blockchain, and more. Some of the small business trends this report discusses are how entrenched new and established fin-techs are tackling new business models, which incumbents are planning a counterattack, untapped markets for disruption, and potential new entrants. Fin-tech covers personal lending, crypto-currencies, unsecured business finance, payments and billing, Regtech, insurance, capital markets, wealth managements, mortgage and real estates, and money transfers.

A major small business trend is away from traditional banking models. The old school physical bank building is being replaced with a technology first-mindset. Your phone will replace your wallet.  It’s predicted that digital banking will grow to more than 2 billion users by 2020.

Another small business trend is cutting out the middle man. eBay, Amazon and Alibaba have successfully achieved this. Speed with payments and speed in receiving goods are shaping modern banking and shopping. Fin-tech has fueled the unsecured short-term lending market, online opening new bank accounts and integrating other global accounting and payment systems. Easier access to alternative capital from SMSF and private investors have brought new money into the system. The expectation of everything instantaneous, is causing a scramble in the payments industry as companies endeavor to retain customers and offer the latest fin-tech technology in finance.

To learn more about alternative online lending for Australian small business trends in finance visit Accrutus Capital to book a call.


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