Predicting trends is always risky business. However, I’m confident the five I’m enumerating here will definitely command their share of headlines over the next 12 months and beyond.
But frankly, whether I — or anyone else — publish an “X Number of 2015 Trends” article is not important by itself.
Any value lies in determining which trends are most suitable for advancing your business throughout the year, so it’s from that perspective that I’ll examine these five trends, starting with what I believe is the biggest and most important.
#1: 2015 will offer major small business growth
If you had a Magic 8 Ball rolling around your house when you grew up, you know that one of its answers is, “All signs point to yes.” That’s the way I feel about significant small business growth in 2015: It’s going to be there for those who are well positioned and ready to work hard.
This has major practical implications for your business. You need to be sure that everything is in place to participate in 2015’s opportunity for growth. If growth requires funding, put it in place. You may need to hire. You could need more space. I have additional comments on some of these areas below.
Also, during the recent difficult years, many small business owners deferred funding their retirements. Go into 2015 with a positive attitude, ready to grow and aggressively build your retirement accounts.
#2: Savvy marketers will stop chasing every trend
Recent years have seen small business marketers go all in on the “trend du jour,” whether it was Facebook ads, content marketing, SEO, automated CRM, or any number of tactics. In 2015, businesses will bring a sane and holistic approach to their online marketing programs.
All of these sales and marketing strategies have their place, but in 2015 small business owners will look at the big picture and design their own “marketing blend” that includes several of these. They also might bring in more traditional marketing devices such as direct mail.
#3: The color of money will be in flux
Major wars will be fought over payment systems and even currencies. Mobile acceptance systems, smart cards, smart phone-based payments, and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will be battling it out for chunks of this huge market.
Some small business owners can sit out this war until some clear victors begin to emerge. Others need to get involved. Consider the customers you have today and the ones you hope to have tomorrow. Will the ability to use Apple Pay or one of the other players in this Kabuki drama impact their decision to do business with you?
#4: The “home office” is officially listed as an endangered species
Virtual workers, coworking spaces, and cloud computing will continue to change the complexion of the small business workforce. As you plan for your 2015 growth, you need to seriously consider the changing landscape of workspace.
For example, if your planned growth includes opening up new territory, your initial foray could take advantage of a low-cost coworking space and perhaps even a virtual employee. If you have successfully moved critical infrastructure to the cloud, you can locate team members anywhere.
#5: Mobile and local marketing are promoted from kings to emperors
Marketing professionals will continue to develop new systems and strategies for engaging customers on their mobile devices when they are out and about. If you’re able to grab the eyes and ears of your customers when they are on the move, you’re much more likely to book a sale.
This starts with making sure your website is mobile-friendly but it goes much further than that. Consider an app, beacons, QR codes, and more. Set aside time to study the topic and find the best ways for your business to take advantage of mobile and local marketing initiatives.