By Leslie Youngblood
One month down, eleven more to go now in 2019. And as we really rev into high gear, we'll start seeing a whole new batch of business trends blossom.
Business trends can be tricky though, because like technology they're always changing. Even so, it's more than worth your time and important to stay focused and aware of what’s coming up on the business horizon.
So today I'm giving you the top seven small business trends for 2019.
Trend #1: Businesses will further adapt to the modern customer.
Customers today truly have more choices than ever, and they have shown they will gravitate toward those who prioritize the delivery of fast, seamless and personalized service.
This is true whether they are ordering lunch, getting their car repaired or making a financial transaction.
One simple way to make sure your tech is always on and at-the-ready for customers? Utilizing Managed IT Services.
Office Depot OfficeMax has a great option and Excelerate America can hook you up with an even better price.
Trend #2: Technology will not replace the human touch.
Technology is always improving, and with the latest and greatest tempting every organization, everyone needs to keep in mind that AI (that's Artificial Intelligence) and predictive analytics will not replace humans when it comes to delivering customer experience.
While there are definitely some great opportunities ahead for AI, it will not be a true game-changer yet.
Trend #3: The rise of IoT or The Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things is actually a pretty simple concept: It means taking all the things in the world and connecting them to the internet.
When something is connected to the internet, that means that it can send information or receive information, or both. This ability to send and/or receive information makes things smart, and smart is good.
To be smart, a thing doesn’t need to have super storage or a super computer inside of it. All a thing has to do is connect to super storage or to a super computer.
Some examples of IoT that you may already be familiar with are smart refrigerators and washers and dryers.
Trend #4: Marketing will continue to grow more personalized.
Marketing is becoming increasingly personal, and this trend will keep going as we move further into 2019. No longer will stock images, generic nurturing campaigns or impersonal calls to action convince consumers. In order to succeed, you'll have to provide high-value and personalized content every step of the way.
Trend #5: The user review will be king.
Today, customer reviews influence more than 95 percent of online customers before they decide to purchase.
And another shocking fact: More than 90 percent of people step back from buying things online that do not have any reviews, good or bad.
Both of these support the idea that in coming years, customer reviews will be the greatest influencer of any business.
Keep your eyes peeled for businesses opening their review forums to publish their customers' opinions. You may also start to see brands starting to drive innovative marketing campaigns through these review forums to influence their target audience.
Trend #6: Businesses will prioritize employee happiness.
Businesses will be focusing more on employee engagement and happiness this year. Hooray! Right? But there's more than just warm and fuzzy reasoning for this: Because unemployment is at historic lows, keeping employees engaged and happy is critical to retaining good people.
Furthermore, many people are unhappy with the state of our country and the world right now. Keeping them happier at work has been demonstrated to boosts productivity 10 to 25 percent.
Trend #7: Tech startups will hire candidates from a broader range of professional backgrounds.
In 2019, tech startups will look beyond technology-specific hires like computer scientists and coders, and consider the broader spectrum of STEM talent to grow their company.
Many startups are by default STEM companies. While technical skills are important, graduates of math, science and engineering programs have strong research and analytical skills that can help an emerging tech company reach new heights.
A broader representation of STEM-related roles, especially women in these fields, will be a focus for companies that want to increase diversity and innovation, which is essential for competing in the tech industry.
So there you have it: The top seven small business trends for 2019.
Hopefully you noticed, like I did, that personalized marketing, human-based customer service interactions and customer reviews are still super important this year. These are all things you should have started implementing last year too. If you haven't gotten around to it yet, now is more than time to start.
Leslie Youngblood is the Creative Director for Excelerate America, the fun, smart service for small businesses. Tell Leslie about what you think of 2019's biggest small business trends by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.