- July 29, 2019
- Posted by: Alexandra Giudice
- Category: Franchise Operations, Human Resources, Marketing
If you’re bogged down in the day-to-day operations of your business and haven’t planned for the next 12 months, then listen up: 2020 is going to be a big year for small business.
As well as being prepared for the commonplace challenges of computer glitches, staff holidays and market fluctuations, you need to consider changing consumer behaviour, cloud technology, the expansion of automation, a flexible workforce and increasing competition.
Don’t let any of the changes that will affect small businesses next year catch you by surprise. If you don’t factor in all these variables, small issues will turn into serious issues that affect your profits and the future of your business.
Starting a small business is becoming easier and more affordable because of digital technology and smarter manufacturing methods. That means, depending on your industry, that you will face stiffer competition in 2020. Ongoing market research will be more important than ever. You need to collect information about what your customers are thinking, their buying patterns, and why they are using your competitors. Talk to key customers and your suppliers. Consider using a professional market research company to assist you. Do you have the capacity to contract, as well as expand, if market conditions change?
Past success is no assurance of future success. A special or promotion that works one week won’t necessarily work the next. You may feel you need to change one or several of your suppliers to help your business grow. This is a big decision, and planning is important to make sure it doesn’t go pear-shaped. It takes time to build new relationships. You might want to change your products or services or consider growing digital sales channels. Your priorities will change because customers are changing. Businesses are no longer the sole creator of a brand. Customers contribute through online searches and by sharing their experiences and complaints online.
You need to have a year-long view of operations and make sure all of your staff are available for critical periods and encourage them to take their holidays during quieter periods. Do you have a shared leave calendar that all employees can access? Most people understand annual leave is based on staffing levels and work demands. But you’ll avoid disgruntlement if employees feel they have a choice and can plan their own year accordingly. You also need a contingency plan for when staff are suddenly ill or involved in an accident. Who can step in? Make sure you’re not dependent on a few key staff; get them to train other people. You may need to use casuals, freelancers or a recruitment agency, even if you haven’t done so in the past. A key feature of 2020 for small businesses will be having a nimble workforce.
You need to keep up to date with new technologies. The majority of internet usage is done via a mobile phone. Is your website mobile friendly? If your business is dependent on your website, you should consider making it voice-search friendly as well. It’s predicted that small businesses will increasingly use cloud technology as an affordable way of storing data securely. Cloud technology also gives team members easy access to data, which improves their efficiency. Are there areas of the business where automation will increase profits in the long run? Think about it now, even if you don’t plan to do it for two or three years.
Opportunities for growth
Every business needs to be alert for new opportunities. Keep looking after your existing customers, but use social media, networking, industry magazines and community events as a way of finding new avenues to expand your business. Put important dates for next year in your diary now. Make sure any new idea or development is aligned with your strengths and overall vision for the business. Look at trends happening around the world for inspiration. You will need to think less about your existing products and more about what experiences your customers want and the problems your business can help them solve.
So, are you ready for 2020? You might have the right tools and the right team in place now, but you need to be ready to respond to a world increasingly shaped by emerging technologies and the rise of the mobile generation.