Insights from industry experts on how millennials, tech, and interest rates will affect small business in the new year.
1. Millennials will drive decision-making
Small business in 2016 is going to Generation Y, and their buying habits are going to influence where business heads. With 80 million U.S. millennials spending $200 billion in the new year, businesses are taking notice. The biggest trend that keeps growing – everything becoming mobile. From ads to videos, the mobile audience is growing. Companies are not just optimizing their websites for mobile devices, they are seeing success in offering dedicated apps. These apps are more functional and make services immediately reachable for clients. According to Front Desk founder and CEO Jon Zimmerman in Business New Daily, “Service businesses in particular must be able to effectively cater to this mobile customer or risk losing the important repeat business they need to keep their organization afloat.”
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2. Interest rates will rise, how it may affect small businesses
Another one of the trends for 2016, as reported by TheStreet, the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates 4 times in the coming year. However, these hikes should be gradual. While it’s good news for banks, what about small businesses, often touted as the backbone of the US economy?
CEO Dan Haber at our partner Bond Street weighed in, saying the initial move by the Fed’s will probably have little effect over the next few months, and even in the coming year, it is unlikely that aggressive action will be taken toward inflation. For those looking to finance growth, in light of the hikes, he does say it may be worth taking out a fixed-rate term loan over a floating-rate mortgage.
3. 24/7 access to service is going to be a given
Part of the move to a mobile world means being connected at all hours of the day and night.
Your phone is always in hand, WiFi hotspots are in every coffeeshop and data is now free when you travel internationally. As Jon Zimmerman wrote for CBS Pulse, “Today’s mobile-centric culture has led to extremely high expectations for customer service among consumers, who now want all of their questions and requests answered at a moment’s notice.” Information needs to be accessible at anytime, from anywhere, and the key is having a mobile strategy. Simply having a mobile site isn’t enough anymore. Your site needs to offer opportunities for customers to reach you directly, and also take into account all the devices that may be accessing your site.
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4. Rising minimum wages will change the employment landscape
Weighing in on trends for 2016, according to the New York Times, five states will consider proposals to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next 5 years. The past year saw 14 states and regions use the power of government to bring the rate for some or all of their work force up to $15 hourly. In a recent Inc article, Suzanne Lucas points out a concern of many entrepreneurs that the rising cost of employees will make it too expensive to do business. She argues, “The $15 minimum wage is politically popular, even if it won’t help the very people it claims to help. It makes us all feel good. But, what good is a $15 an hour job if those jobs have been taken over by computers or done away with altogether?” Will the cost of wages make it more likely to use automation and virtual tools to take care of customers? Will less skilled labor be too costly? And will Congress vote to set a higher new minimum? No doubt this year will be a deciding one.
5. Employers will have to work harder to keep good employees (hint: with tech)
Our partner Infusionsoft shared this article from Information Age highlighting a study that found technology is what makes the difference for employees when deciding to stay or leave a business. Access to better tech leads to more happiness for workers. The takeaway? Make sure employees have the right tools to do their jobs. From up-to-date software to portable devices, employees “should be able to “seamlessly access their data and applications from any device, anywhere, at any time (IA).” This can mean offering more flexibility so people can work in environments that make them productive. Given the right tools, and creating a workspace diverse enough to meet the needs of employees is what will be a game changer in 2016.
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