10 Small Business Trends for 2018

Small enterprises that are able to integrate disruptive technologies into their core processes have the best chance of succeeding. 2018 will be no different as tech continues to evolve and change, and SMEs must be prepared to adopt new strategies to remain competitive. Here are ten trends that will enable your business to maximize productivity next year.

Video

Attention is now a primary currency for brands, and video is the best content medium for delivering the relevant and authentic messages consumers want across a plethora of online platforms. SMEs should also integrate cloud-based video services into their communications infrastructure to make it easier to interact with employees across departments and talk to clients in all areas of the globe.

Instant messaging

Telecoms applications such as Skype offer both video conferencing and instant messaging features to empower brands to communicate and collaborate in real time via smartphones, laptops and desktop PCs. IM will be central to both internal and external communication in 2018 as it drives the efficiency and productivity that can really make a difference in a competitive business landscape. Fewer silos and greater collaboration can improve decision making, which can reduce risks and drive revenue.

Remote working

Hosted telephone systems and cloud computing are enabling a new generation of workers to complete tasks remotely from any location with a connected device. This trend has also filtered its way through to the hiring process as tech enterprises and startups are increasing their agility by bringing in talented professionals on a contract basis, who are capable of working from home without any loss in functionality. Remote working will be crucial for the competitiveness of micro and small enterprises in 2018.

Connection economy

The concept of engagement has changed this year due to the fact that being part of a conversation is more important than selling a brand via advertising. Renowned author Ian Altman says modern enterprises are now operating in a “connection economy”, so brands need to leverage the apps and services available to them to interact with customers regularly. Creating organic content can strengthen these connections and provide end users with added value, which can drive customer retention and loyalty.

Carbon footprint

Global warming and other environmental issues are challenges that need to be met head-on in areas beyond business, but small enterprises can do their part by thinking about how their operations are affecting the environment. Consumers are more tuned in to these concerns now and want to do business with brands that are green. To ensure your audience knows that you are taking steps to address this, publish content related to your green credentials and how reducing emissions is not only helping you to operate more efficiently but also benefiting the local community.

Digital advertising

The days of traditional-only advertising campaigns are over due to the rise of digital. Offline still has its place as there remains a subset of the general populace that are not regularly using connected devices, but digital should be at the forefront of any paid ad strategies. A study by eMarketer found digital ad spend has finally surpassed TV and is expected to reach more than $103bn by 2019. However, brands must be careful that ads are not disruptive and instead enhance the viewing experience on social.

Mobile

All content should now be created with a mobile-first outlook as consumers now use smartphones more than any other device to search for and buy products and services. These consumers expect an excellent user experience on mobile and will quickly navigate to a competitor if you are unable to optimize your website so that it is fast and intuitive. Creating an iOS or Android app for your company can also increase awareness and tap into the incredible potential of mobile.

Social media

Facebook has long been the preferred outlet for social interactions, but Millennials and Gen Z are moving to innovative new platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, so it is important that your business moves with them. 2018 will see brands tailor content for a multitude of social platforms so can they be part of their audience’s daily lives. “Ephemeral, authentic sharing” is key for brands as consumers want brands to be real and not simply publish with the aim of increasing likes and shares.

Blogging

Three-quarters of marketing execs will increase content investment in 2018 according to a recent study by Conductor. While visual resources have been popular this year, 2018 will see a renewed focus on long form, editorial content and blogging with the aim of being a “thought leader” in a particular industry.

Cloud

The ongoing switch to cloud-based solutions will continue in 2018 and these service-as-a-product models offer incredible value for SMEs who do not want to invest in expensive onsite infrastructures. Both hosted private branch exchange (PBX) and session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking will allow smaller enterprises to compete with larger corporations.