Experts are predicting that 2015 will be the year of the podcast, the year of mobile (again), the year of solar power, and the year of the millennial customer. Why not the year of your small business?
2015 is a blank slate offering plenty of opportunities to grow your customer base. In fact, it’s an incredible time to be a small business because today’s complex, multi-channel world demands agility and individualized customer attention, which come more easily to small businesses.
Get ready to feel optimistic. Here are five reasons why 2015 looks especially promising for small business owners.
Customers are increasingly willing to change old patterns and embrace new ways of living. Take taxis or food delivery, for example. What used to be an obvious action (pick up the phone and call a cab or restaurant) is now an endless list of options: request a ride on one of several ride-sharing apps, use a food delivery website, or even digitally hire a personal assistant. In general, people are becoming more comfortable with changing the way they do things—and they like it. This new mindset is helpful for your small business, as your potential customers are likely curious to test something new.
Need an app developed? A website redesign? A technical guide that explains how to use your product? The contractor and freelancer ecosystem is booming. According to a recent Forbes article, “Current estimates put the number of freelance workers at 53 million, or about 33% of the domestic workforce—a number that is expected to grow to 50 percent by 2020.” Some of today’s most skilled workers are actually choosing to be freelancers because of the flexibility this lifestyle offers. This is great news for small businesses that may need short-term experts, but can’t bring them on full-time.
Mobile devices yield huge benefits for small business owners. They bring more ways to reach customers, more ways for customers to reach you, and more convenience for both parties. GigaOm reports that we’re on track to meet 100% mobile penetration by 2015, meaning that the number of mobile connections will surpass the number of people on earth. With ApplePay quickly expanding reach in 2015 (including a presence at gas stations), 2015 brings countless ways to benefit from a more mobile world.
Podcasts, smartphone apps, text messaging, and social networks are only gaining in popularity, while traditional media outlets like TV and print must find new ways to keep up. Developing a presence on up-and-coming channels can come at a smaller price tag than expensive old-school ad campaigns, and audiences on these networks are ready to listen at any time. Even if you do decide to run ads, a highly targeted Facebook ad campaign still costs less than a commercial or ad on most traditional outlets.
In 2015, small is strong. On the American Express-hosted Small Business Saturday in 2014, 88 million consumers shopped at small businesses, a 14.9% increase from 2013. Also on Small Business Saturday, US consumers spent $14.3 billion with independent retailers and restaurants—a 2.1% increase from 2013. Increasingly, customers are passionate about shopping local not only during holidays, but also year-round: foodies take pride in local restaurants. Etsy users prefer shops in their area. People want to support small businesses—so make it easier for them to know your story and join in.
These trends and many more point to 2015 as a banner year for entrepreneurs. Of course, we can’t know what the next twelve months have in store. But if you keep a close focus on customers and remain agile enough to keep pace with these trends, you’ll be on your way to plenty of success to report this time next year.