As the first quarter of the year comes to a close, we’re checking in on the state of affairs for small businesses. How are small-business owners feeling right now, and what trends or challenges are they facing this year?
Optimism is up
This is the perfect time to check in on the state of affairs for small businesses. The first quarter of the year ends this week, and we just celebrated National Mom & Pop Business Owners Day on March 29. The news is in, and it is good: People are feeling optimistic.
Optimism among small-business owners is at a 10-year all-time high, according to research published this month by Gallup. Small-business owners are reporting the highest levels of optimism since July 2007, based on the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of small-business owners conducted February 6-10.
According to the report:
- 45 percent of small-business owners report an increase in revenues in the past 12 months
- 64 percent reported either “very or somewhat good” cash flow over the last 12 months
- 71 percent reported their financial situation as “very or somewhat good”
With not only optimism levels on the increase, but also reported revenue, it’s shaping up to be a good year for small businesses.
Trends to look out for
Aside from data on revenue, what themes are big right now for small businesses? What trends and outlooks are small businesses facing this year?
Author Adam C. Uzialko gives us some insight in his January 1 post on Business News Daily, where he shares 2017 forecasts directly from the mouths of experts in the field.
In the scope of employees and the workplace, experts anticipate that:
- Millennials will take on more leadership roles
- Job hopping will become more of the norm, especially in the tech industry where it is currently the most prevalent
- Offices will become more digital and paperless as they increasingly use software for business “paperwork” and file management
- 401k lawsuits will continue against small companies administering their own retirement plans
As for the subject of customer experience, experts predict:
- More cross-collaboration among different industries as technology and apps give more options to customer and make the market more interconnected
- Experiences will become more valued by customers as they seek real-life connections to brands and people offline
- Tech will become more integrated into the customer experience, with cloud, mobile and other digital functionality becoming essential to business strategy
At Hinda, it's our mission to help companies build lasting engagement, so we pulled out the takeaways from these predictions. For businesses and leaders looking to create employee, customer and client satisfaction, keep these recommendations in mind:
- Be flexible and open to the ever-evolving employee persona — consider your company’s culture and its adaptability to meet the needs and goals of today’s workforce
- Embrace and experiment with new technologies, both for internal business and connecting and communicating with your audience — explore how social media, apps and other digital platforms can be used to increase business productivity, foster employee engagement and develop lasting relationships with your customers
- Find and carve out your company’s niche in the marketplace, and be willing to cross-collaborate with businesses that fill other niches — find ways that other businesses may be complementary, and not competitive, working in conjunction with yours to reach more customers and build loyalty
- Engage your customers in events and experiences which pull them out of their normal digital interfaces and give them a real-world way to connect with your company’s brand and mission — give your customers opportunities to be a part of your business’s story and build that lasting engagement