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10 Trends That Will Impact Your Business In 2017

Every year brings new perspectives that change how we work. In the case of 2017, a change in national leadership, combined with ongoing technology, social, economic, political and environmental factors, are generating key trends that business owners need to pay attention to if they want to continue being relevant to their customer base. Plus, these trends also impact how small and mid-size business owners develop their strategy, marketing messages, and investment plans toward adopting new technology.

Unlike larger corporations that have the capital and resources to quickly react and handle these changing business environments, small and mid-size businesses often have to be more creative when it comes to how they run their companies and address new trends. That’s why it makes sense to start looking at the imminent trends now so that you can begin planning for how you will address these changes in the coming months.

1. Mobile Dependency

A new survey by B2B research company Clutch found that nearly 50 percent of U.S. small businesses will have a mobile app by 2017, recognizing the ongoing trends of customers preferring to use their smartphones and tablets for many activities, including search, social, and shopping. Besides offering an app to stay competitive, a small business owner must ensure that they have a mobile-friendly website. The same survey found that “the majority of small businesses are building apps to increase sales (55 percent), improve customer experience (50 percent) and become competitive in a specific market (50 percent).” The apps will be a way to continue competing against larger companies and keep their customers engaged and loyal.

2. SEO Standards

While the updates to Google’s SEO standards basically occurred during 2016, the ongoing changes indicate that 2017 will involve further evolution of the search engine framework. As a small business owner, this means staying on top of what these SEO changes mean to ranking and how to approach SEO strategies, especially in the mobile environment. Google has provided much assistance for business owners in this area, but there are also numerous companies that can provide assistance on understanding what these changes in SEO standards means for your search marketing strategies.

3. Federal Labor Laws

Also changing in 2016, federal overtime laws have changed how small business owners will allot hours to their staff and approach their employee costs. With the changes that now require business owners to pay workers more than $47,000 a year to reduce their overtime obligation, there will more likely be a move to taking on more part-time employees to avoid the new rules. The good news here is that the ongoing growth in freelancers and individuals seeking to take on outsourced projects continues to grow, so small business owners have a sizable talent pool to take this approach.

4. Bot Help

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to expand further as more applications are developed that can provide assistance to businesses in the form of things like chatbots that take over some of the processes that workers used to handle. This provides any number of opportunities to have a wide range of time-consuming tasks handled on your behalf, which can allow you to focus on those core capabilities that expand your business. This includes having chatbots handle basic customer service requests on a 24/7 basis. This trend has some incredible potential to help small businesses to become more efficient, productive, and responsive.

5. Employee Autonomy and Remote Work

Due to the aforementioned trend toward freelancing, workers are becoming more autonomous, which has made for happier, more satisfied employees. This trend is set to continue as more small businesses will realize the benefit of hiring freelancers or allowing their employees to work remotely and direct their own hours. Adding the technology that allows for this working arrangement while creating a framework for how to let talent will allow your small business to leverage this beneficial way to increase retention and productivity rates. This trend will also help your small business to decrease overhead costs and the associated expense of having a formal office.

6. Savings and Retirement Regulations

Because of growing concern over the fact that more people do not have savings or retirement accounts, the U.S. and state governments are becoming involved in changing this before too many people turn to government aid to get them through tough times and the twilight years. Some states will begin requiring that small business owners offer a qualified plan that helps their workers savings for retirement. While new options and financial programs are set to take some of the expense out of this benefit, small business owners will still have to think about how to budget for this new level of benefit no matter the size of their business.

7. Upping the Content Marketing Game

Content marketing will only take on a bigger role in 2017, continuing to push small business owners to become more knowledgeable and talented in terms of the content they produce. This expectation and trend toward meaningful content will continue because consumers and businesses alike both will keep demanding what they perceive helps them in some way whether it involves words, pictures, or video.

8. New Connectivity Levels

The trend toward affiliate commerce will grow further in 2017 as companies realize how lucrative and beneficial it is to partner together to drive traffic to each other’s sites. The more you can integrate your services or products into another business in the near future, the more value and larger market share your small business will be able to gain. Although affiliate marketing has been around for quite awhile, the level of collaboration and connectivity is something new. Finding these connections for your small business in 2017 could propel it to new levels of growth as the opportunities for connectivity between companies appears to be limitless.

9. Growing Payment Compliance

The level of compliance and regulatory issues is set to rise dramatically in 2017, which can put significant pressure on a small business that doesn’t want to risk non-compliance and end up with fines, penalties, or the inability to process payments online or offline. However, small businesses will be able to seek out payment service providers that can assist in helping ensure compliance and educating your small business on the ongoing trend toward heavier regulation of all transactions.

10. Further Automation

Lastly, between artificial intelligence, regtech, bots, and new types of software, more of your business is set for automation in 2017 as this trend toward digitization and the elimination of paper processes continues. This trend can enable you to save both time and money as well as minimize human errors in various types of operational processes, including everything from invoicing and accounting to social media engagement and online marketing content delivery.

With these trends in mind for 2017, now is the time to get ready and decide how your small business can leverage and incorporate these changes in order to get the maximum benefit and deliver on expectations in the coming year.

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