The business world changes rapidly, and entrepreneurs need to stay on top of the latest trends if they want their business to survive.
Learning is what keeps smart entrepreneurs on top. I’m constantly reading, whether it’s the newest book about leadership or the latest industry blog. If I don’t know what’s going on in my industry now, I could be missing out on a huge growth opportunity — or leave my company open for disruption.
From what I’ve learned, these 5 trends will be vital to any entrepreneur looking to outgrow the competition this year. Even if your business isn’t the Uber of something or if you’ve already fully integrated big data, you might see some opportunities ahead with these trends.
The Sharing Economy Will Keep Growing
I think this year, we’ll see more regulation on the sharing economy. This might sound bad, but it will actually legitimize platforms such as Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Taskrabbit and Airbnb. By 2025, PwC predicts that the sharing economy will be worth as much as $335 billion.
By giving these companies a legal foothold, precedent will be set. Competitors and sharing economy upstarts will have a roadmap to draw from.
I see this year as the time when even more disruptive technologies spring up, forever changing bloated industries like the housing market. More companies will turn to technology to solve pain points, as apps utilize a groundswell of freelance and part-time workers.
If you’re an entrepreneur looking for a new endeavor, start thinking of how you can cut the middleman out of certain processes using technology.
Brands Need to Show a Charitable Side
As social media continues to evolve, customers have more and more avenues to sing your company’s praises (or talk about how you’ve messed up).
More and more today, brands come under fire for shady dealings, a poor environmental record or a variety of other failings. People want to spend money with companies they feel good about.
Brands such as Toms Shoes and Warby Parker have gained solid traction with Millennials, who enjoy buying products from companies that give back. It’s not enough anymore just to have a solid business plan. A Nielsen survey shows that 55 percent of online consumers would pay more for products from companies dedicated to a positive societal or environmental impact.
Find a cause that’s close to the hearts of your staff or your customers, and find some way to give back. That could mean announcing a certain percent of your sales will go to a cause or organizing a volunteer day.
More Companies Will Embrace Big Data
You’re probably sick of hearing about the importance of big data by now. But industries such as healthcare, insurance, retail and telecommunications have started to realize the importance of data analysis.
If your company hasn’t embraced big data, it might be time to learn more about how a data-driven, analytical approach might help. Big data providers are ramping up, as experts predict revenues for these types of companies hitting more than $203 billion by 2020 — a compound annual growth rate of 11.7 percent.
More and more companies are embracing the power of mass data. Your competition might be next.
Customer Service Will Be Even More Critical
Whether you are in B2C or B2B, you’re in the business of customer service. Online reviews and word-of-mouth are more powerful than ever.
If you can nail the aspect of customer service — whether you are a solo entrepreneur or the head of a major company — you’ll keep clients coming back. It can get so easy to just get lost in the nuts and bolts of your product to forget that you’re interacting with humans, not numbers on a spreadsheet.
Companies and entrepreneurs who treat their clients well reap huge rewards. According to American Express, 58 percent of consumers are willing to spend more with a company after they’ve had a positive customer service experience.
If you really want to see your business skyrocket in 2017, start thinking more like your consumers.