Small Business Trends for Owners to Monitor
Small business owners should remain aware of the current business trends in the market, in order to stay ahead of the curve and be ready to address rapidly changing demand. If your business fails to monitor current small business trends, then your company will be tied to archaic methods while rivals prosper from more modern and efficient methods of conducting business. Here are several of the top business trends for small business owners to monitor.
The Social Network While the 1990s required businesses to create company websites, social networks Facebook and Twitter have steadily replaced dedicated company domains with viral marketing initiatives. Facebook has sprinkled its "Like" button and "Facebook Connect" buttons all over the Internet in an attempt to become the ultimate portal website and successor to Google's throne. Along with Twitter, social networking sites have likewise made information sharing instant and accessible over multiple platforms. The soaring popularity of smartphones and tablets have made Facebook the first stop of many mobile users, and small businesses can substantially increase their presence through prudent promotions and viral initiatives on the site. Best of all, promoting your company through a Facebook business page is free, and paid advertising is cheap for its expansive reach.
Apps and Mobile Advertising As the mobile internet grows, smartphone and tablet platforms have become increasingly reliant on mobile app developers for fresh content. Popularized by Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market, mobile apps are now the bread and butter of mobile users. Forward thinking companies have been fast to offer mobile apps to promote their business. Some mobile apps are simply bookmarked versions of the company's mobile site, while others are full on programs tapping the specialized GPS and Internet functions of smart phones and tablets to create a unique browsing experience. No one likes to browse a website optimized for desktops and laptops on a tiny smartphone screen, so creating apps can be a fun way to introduce your company to mobile Internet users for free. Companies also pay search engines like Google to boost their search results - a more traditional but doubly effective one, with the increasing usage of mobile Internet devices.
Group Discounts With the advent of Groupon, an increasing number of websites have begun offering group discounts. You can offer a product at a steep discount on these group discount websites, stipulating that the order will only be filled once a set number of customers - such as 10,50 or 100 - sign up. For example, a steakhouse might offer a $30 dinner for $20 - but only if 100 customers are guaranteed. This helps your business trade off higher margins for higher sales volume, which may be more profitable in the long run. In addition, it helps publicize your company. Services like Groupon have been considered the wave of the future, as evidenced by Google's failed $6 billion attempt to purchase the fledgling company.
E-Commerce Simply owning a website does not mean your company has tapped the true potential of e-commerce. Companies in America have realized, albeit a decade late, that traditional brick-and-mortar businesses are costly and dent margins. Thus, most companies - even old fashioned ones - have begun to follow Amazon's time-tested model of online retail. You can consider slimming down your company's operations by moving operations online. However, you'll also need a lot of computing horsepower to run a successful and secure e-commerce website. Amazon's servers are considered the strongest and most impregnable in the world.
Emerging Markets and Outsourcing With the stagnation of American and European markets, many companies have become focused on expanding their operations overseas while reducing their domestic business interests. It also makes good business sense, considering the weakening of the U.S. dollar, the rise of wealthier middle classes in Brazil, Russia, India and China, and faster GDP growth in emerging markets. Small businesses that have prided themselves on producing products "Made in the U.S.A." have paid dearly for their anachronistic ideals. Today, even small and mid-sized businesses benefit from outsourcing their manufacturing to countries with lower labor costs.
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