The year may be young, but 2016 has already begun to prove very promising for small business owners. Business technology continues to facilitate low-cost, high quality products and services, while social media and e-commerce allow businesses to better reach previously untapped markets.
Here's where some of the top small business trends are heading, according to Entrepreneur:
Millennials are getting older. Technology's widespread and effortless adoption by millennials has turned what used to be a one-way conversation between companies and their customers into a ceaseless and dynamic dialogue. Combine this with a generational consciousness of their employer's social responsibility, and you have business technologies like online meeting and conferencing services – aimed at enhancing communication and preserving work-life balance – proving more popular than ever.
Web presence is also more important than it has ever been. Small businesses without easily accessible and navigable websites will suffer as online customer reviews and connectivity grow even more essential in 2016. If your small business doesn't have a clean, well-organized website, this year is the time to change that.
E-commerce is expanding, and small businesses would be wise to take advantage of it. Entrepreneur reported that 58 percent of online shoppers presented with a free-shipping threshold were willing to buy more to meet that threshold, which goes to show how even small perks can drive profit. Mobile commerce – usually conducted with a smartphone – is also rapidly picking up pace. According to Forrester, mobile payments alone will account for $142 billion worth of transactions by 2019.
Payment security is another trend to keep an eye on. In October 2015, liability for fraudulent transactions shifted from banks to merchants, highlighting the need for EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) enabled terminals. These terminals allow microchip debit and credit cards to protect small businesses and their customers. If your small business still accepts point-of-sale transactions without EMV, your financial risk will only grow worse throughout 2016.