How many new businesses got founded in 2015? Any guesses? The number is 6.36 million. The current count of active businesses, on a global level, exceeds 50 million. As the world gets over its hangovers from the wild partying of the New Year’s Eve and welcomes 2016, it’s time for realization for small businesses, that the year ahead has some significant opportunities, challenges, pitfalls, and growth escalators in store. Are you ready to know more about the trends that no small business owner can ignore in 2016?
Trends That no Small Business Owner can Ignore
Grassroots Movements Will Become Big
Grassroots movements proved to be a lot more than marketing hype in 2015, and that’s what makes them a trend worth tracking for everyone in 2016. Small businesses are leveraging internet and social media in particular to gather a lot of mass around their demands and concerns. For instance, local business owners in NYC joined hands to fight for rights of commercial tenants, and to put an end to exploitative commercial rents in the city. The TakeBackNYC movement went viral, and empowered the ‘revolutionaries’ to lobby successfully for a legislation that allows business owners to avail fair lease renewal rates. This year, don’t underestimate the power of social media movements.
Changes in Legal Landscapes of Business will keep Businessmen on their Heels
Major states across the globe witnessed some significant legislative changes that have immense impact on business owners. For instance, California’s minimum wages were increased from $9 to $10, effective from 1st Jan, 2016, posing compliance challenges for employers. Employment rights, workplace discrimination, and wage theft lawsuits are surging, which poses several challenges for small business owners. Startups would do well to ramp up their understanding of legal environment surrounding them, so that they remain compliant to the law, and can leverage the provisions that suit their interests.
HTTP/2 – A New Dawn for Cyber-Sphere?
The Internet has been evolving from several years, and 2016 is no different. HTTP/2 will percolate to the deeper strata of the cyber-sphere in 2016, which will mean better opportunities for startups to upgrade their websites to deliver better user experiences empowered by HTTP/2. Of course, issues like browser compatibility, investment in backend revamping, etc., will pose challenges for small businesses looking to hold on to their working capital. This also means that ITes startups have some exciting business opportunities to tap. 2016 could witness hundreds of small businesses innovate and create affordable service packages around the HTTP/2 protocol upgrade.
The Critical Questions of Data Security
Retailers with physical stores have some important news to chew over, and act upon. Regulators across the world have either already chosen to shift the liability of data breaches to retailers, or are looking to do so. In fact, from Oct 1, 2015, US has already implemented a legal shift, that holds the retailers responsible for ensuring data security in card related transactions. As a retailer, there’s heavy probability that you’ll need to invest in EMV enabled registers very soon, because the costs and penalties of a data breach lawsuit are gigantic compared to the investment in better card-processing technology. Revamping physical checkout technologies could be the smartest move for retailers in 2016, particularly before the legal drift motivates EMV technology vendors to raise prices. Legislation related to minimum security certification necessary for web stores is also likely to become stricter, which will prompt better implementation of web-security technologies by small and medium sized retailers.
Social Search – Are you Ready?
The face of web marketing will change across 2016; that’s primarily because of the changing ways in which people search for content online. Apart from search engines, web users trust social media websites for vital, insightful, and credible information about businesses, entrepreneurs, brands, products, marketing campaigns, etc. So, small businesses need to look beyond SEO, and grasp the opportunities that social search and social media marketing has to offer. Invest in a dedicated team to manage your social media content, and regularly monitor all posts and mentions your business or brand name gets on the big 3 of social media – Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Apps Will Become more Important than Ever
App Indexing will open up a world of opportunities for small businesses. Studies based on preferred modes of brand interactions adopted by mobile users point to the fact that mobile apps are a future replacement for mobile responsive websites. Whereas a mobile user has to open the browser and key in the search term of URL to begin the brand interaction via a mobile responsive website, an app enables users to just tap on an icon, and access the functionality of the website or web-store in a much more intuitive, enjoyable, and streamlined manner. With app indexing already endorsed and implemented by Google, the implications for startups is that searches made for their target keywords could showcase their app links, along with an Install button, to the users’ screens, promoting more app installations. No wonders, mobile app developers are rubbing their hands as we move in to 2016.
The Cloud Impact
Traditional small business service providers and workers for occupations such as book-keeping, payroll management, etc. will be replaced by SaaS based cloud applications, because of ease of switching, flexibility, cost effectiveness, and scope of leveraging the applications for enlarging operational margins. Data storage and IT functionalities that are relevant for most medium sized businesses are already moving to the cloud; 2016 is all set to see a significant in surge in the transition to the cloud, as small businesses brace up to fight price battles which necessitate the tightest cost control. IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) will surface as a key success driver for small businesses, and SaaS (Software as a Service) will impact medium and large sized businesses to a greater extent.
Smarter, More Demanding Employees
Trust your employees to become demanding and smarter than ever; small and large businesses will have to stay on their heels to be able to recruit and retain key resources. Human resources departments will have to innovate to strategize and plan for retaining top talent. These innovations will encompass flexible work hours, employee stock options, memberships to health clubs, availability of day care centers, provision of travel options, flexible vacation and sabbatical policies, and benefits encompassing medical as well as non-medical aspects that touch the lives of employees.