In a world where everyone talks about unicorns, small businesses strive to become camels! Just like camels get past the changing climates and survive without food and water for months, small ventures try to navigate through thick and thin despite being low on resources.
But unfortunately, most small businesses succumb to adverse climates and only 33% of them actually make it to last 10 years or longer. The reasons behind a business getting failed are many & not playing along with the new business trends in the market is one of them.
If you’re planning to grow your business and do not want to miss out on what the market is up to, this blog is for you. Before we dive into the top small-business trends in 2024, let’s take a glance at what a small business really means.
How Do You Define a Small Business?
Small businesses have different definitions around the world. When talking about the US, as the US Small Business Administration puts it, “small businesses” are defined as “firms with fewer than 500 employees.” (source: Oberlo)
Small businesses are the backbone of the US economy as they create millions of jobs and make the country self-dependent. In 2021, the number of small businesses in the US reached 32.5 million, making up nearly all (99.9 percent) US businesses.
Why Small Businesses Should Keep an Eye on the Changing Trends in 2024?
If your business is not on the Internet then your business will be out of business – Bill Gates
Can we all agree on how apt this quote is? And the pandemic proved it sooner than anybody would have imagined.
Now, since the Internet is a place where trends go in and out in the blink of an eye, the same Bill Gates quote applies to small-business trends as well. Entrepreneurs who want to pave their way in the new normal, just can’t miss out on the upcoming trends and predictions about small businesses in 2024.
Though anyone can hardly predict extreme situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, entrepreneurs CAN analyze the stats and listen to industry experts to sharpen their vision for the future.
The Top 10 Trends & Predictions for Small Businesses for 2024:
1. Online & Offline Stores Will Co-exist
Brick-and-Mortar Stores Vs The Online Ones. Who is the winner? You can say it’s both! There’s no doubt that online shopping gives customers the convenience to shop from the comfort of their homes, but people still cherish shopping offline.
Everyone’s hoping for COVID-19 threats to finally come to a halt so that they could get back to their normal lives. Though the resurgence of the virus is again looming in the news, the belief in vaccines is keeping the hopes up. (This is a gentle reminder for you to get your booster shots as suggested by the FDA.)
Reasons why hybrid shopping (online+offline) will be a trend in 2024:
- Humans are social beings: They like going out, visiting places, spending time with loved ones, and engaging with other people. And shopping offline is a sweet spot for each of these factors.
- Eco-consciousness: Consumers are getting aware of the negative impact the whole shipping process leaves on the environment. In fact, a survey conducted in 2021 by NRF & IBM suggests that 62% of people are ready to change their purchasing habits to reduce the environmental impact. Thus, they are inclining more towards approaches that have a lesser carbon footprint. And shopping offline is one of them.
- Quality assurance: Given the duration between purchasing the products and getting them delivered, online shopping demands patience. Plus, buyers can’t touch, feel, or try out the product right away. And this gives offline shopping an edge over online shopping.
- Empathy towards local businesses: Local businesses were badly hurt during the pandemic. Consumers are now taking into account this fact and they want to support the small businesses in their local region.
2. Employees Are Equally Concerned About The Environment
The same survey by NRF & IBM that revealed that consumers are ready to shift their purchasing habits towards sustainability, also revealed that nearly 68% of employees reported that they’re more likely to apply for jobs in environmentally-responsible organizations and 48% are even willing to accept a lower salary.
Here’s how sustainability-concerned employees will push companies to be more sustainable:
- Small-business could be seen taking action towards reducing their carbon footprint as much as possible. Measures like avoiding plastic usage, proper waste management, and even preferring online meetings to curb air pollution can be taken into account.
- Apart from the tangible pollutants, companies can also opt for green web hosting services too. That’s right! Websites use energy and many companies are trying to offset their energy usage to suppress their carbon emissions.
- Companies can also flaunt this good initiative on social media platforms and by hiring posts to win customers and attract more talent.
- Given the Great Resignation and mass employee churning, small businesses can take these small things seriously not only to woo their customers but also to retain their employees.
3. More Focus on Finance Management
Mismanagement of funds is one of the primary reasons why small companies fail in the nascent stage itself. The owners of poor-performing startups are often oblivious to how their company is generating revenues and how the money is getting spent. This ultimately dries up the capital and puts the company out of operation.
To prevent such a financial crisis, small business owners might be taking some measures beforehand. Thus, investing in financial coaching & hiring finance consultants can be seen as one of the latest trends that the market can see in 2022.
Small businesses are starting to dig into the details of their financials more now than ever. I believe financial coaching and growth strategy will be a big focus for the latter half of 2022. It’s unfortunate but most small businesses can’t afford to hire a CFO. Consultants are the next best thing.
– Ryan Lucia, Such n Such Media
4. Making The Most Of Social Media Marketing
Being short on working capital is not something to cry upon. At least not in 2022. Small businesses are going to rock their way in the digital market with the help of social media just like they’ve been doing so far.
Free marketing strategies like creating a personal brand on LinkedIn, sending cold DMs on Instagram & LinkedIn, and volume posting on video streaming platforms like TikTok will be on spree this year too.
5. Leveraging ML & Automation To Boost Productivity
A report from Zapier suggests that 63% of small & medium businesses say automation allowed their company to quickly pivot as a result of the pandemic.
Automation tools help companies boost productivity by helping them bring their goods and services online or change their business model altogether. And this paradigm shift is no longer limited to the pandemic aftermath only. 66% SMBs say that automation & ML tools are now essential to run their business.
The most common software tools that SMBs use to automate their workflows include Google Workspace, Slack, MailChimp, Trello, Airtable, Calendly, etc.
6. Email Marketing Is Here To Stay
Despite being the most conventional digital marketing strategy, email marketing never goes off fashion and outperforms every other digital marketing tactic out there.
Yes! Even social media marketing can’t beat email marketing in ROI. And for small businesses, email marketing (if done right) can prove to be the Holy Grail, since it gives an impressive ROI of $36 on every $1 spent.
Apparently, email marketing is going to stay on trend in 2022 as well. Though the concept of email marketing is old, the way we used to send emails has changed massively. Small businesses will be leveraging automation in their sales pipeline to leave no stone unturned in their email drip campaigns.
7. Experimentation With Trendy Content Strategies
Doing regular experiments with marketing tactics is the only way to understand what exactly works for you. Businesses will be trying out the latest content marketing plans of action to get more traction for their business.
These content experimentations may include
- Creating short-form videos on Instagram Reels or TikTok;
- Self-conducting or making guest appearances in podcasts;
- Including videos in emails. It increases clickthrough rates by up to 300%. (Source: Spiceworks);
- Creating captivating infographics and posting them in blog posts, social media, or emails.
8. Advanced Payment Choices
The pandemic had created a boom in the new modes of online payment systems. Be it mobile transfers using UPI, contactless credit and debit cards, or even via cryptocurrency, the last two years disrupted how people used to pay money for the goods and services they purchase. And this trend is only going to thrive even more.
Now that people have an understanding of Bitcoin, they’re gradually making a shift towards smart contracts and NFTs too. Apart from giving customers more options to make payments, small business owners can also benefit from these smart contracts.
Peer-to-peer transactions cut out the intermediaries and reduce underlying fees per transaction and this can help businesses save a lot of money in the long term.
9. Empathetic & Personalized Customer Support
It’s interesting to note that 67% of customers are willing to switch brands due to poor customer service. Not only that, the customers even say that they will stay loyal to a company that provides quality customer support even if their product is not the best in the market.
Such facts only conclude one simple thing. Customers want peace of mind. Whether you’re providing a service or selling a product, being empathetic to your customers can earn you their loyalty. And only loyal customers help you become a successful brand.
Provide curbside pickup, offer home delivery, keep multiple touchpoints, try to respond quickly, listen to their issues with more compassion, and take genuine feedback. Become their favorite brand and let word-of-mouth popularize you!
10. Hybrid & Flexible Work Environment
Remote working was already in fashion even before the pandemic. But COVID converted it from a mere privilege to an absolute necessity. And now more and more businesses are happily accepting this modern working culture.
They can either keep their whole workforce remote or can opt for a hybrid model (a mixup of both in-office & remote employees) and run their day-to-day operations hassle-free.
By hiring remote employees, businesses can
- hire the best talents across the world,
- cut down their payroll costs by outsourcing work,
- maintain a flexible work environment,
- provide a healthy work-life balance to their employees,
- lessen the effect of 2021’s Great Resignation & continue their workflow.
Change is the only constant in the digital market. By keeping pace with the fast-changing trends, small businesses not only ensure their survival but can also compete with their biggest rivals.
Here’s a quick recap of the small business trends in 2024:
- 2024 will try to make a balance between online & offline shopping.
- Both customers and employees are getting more environmentally conscious & companies should too.
- Businesses will invest more in finance management and coaching.
- More focus on free marketing via free social media platforms.
- Implementing more ML & automation tools to increase productivity.
- Email marketing will thrive as it is.
- Content experimentation with videos, podcasts, and infographics.
- Wide acceptance of advance payment facilities including smart contracts & NFTs.
- Compassionate & personalized customer support
- Remote/hybrid working will continue (or even go up!)
Apply and take advantage of these ideas & predictions and grow your business to the next level!
We hope you find this blog post useful. Good luck!