Blog post from Allison Ebner, EANE Director of Member Services
Welcome to The Jungle . . .
For all of you 80’s rock fans, you’ll recognize this song title from one of the biggest rock bands of the decade. But it’s a short phrase that also represents the economic climate for small businesses in 2020 and beyond.
The only thing that’s a ‘sure thing’ over the next five years is that change will be constant. Reassuring, I know. But technology is moving at such a rapid pace that we need to jump on the high-speed train and learn as we go. If you don’t you’ll be left behind. And that IS a sure thing.
Data, in all forms, is the new jet fuel propelling everything forward. As a small business with limited resources (including time, money and staffing), you have to choose your priorities wisely. There are many trends emerging as key influencers for 2020. Here are three key strategies that are always mentioned and also offer the greatest opportunity for impacting your success over the next 12 months:
The rise of personalized messaging is astounding. The amount of information that our devices know about us is amazing and frightening. Artificial intelligence has provided businesses with unique ways to capture the minds of their consumers just as if they were sitting in their living room asking questions. Your tech footprint leaves a trail of detail into your purchasing patterns and smart businesses are taking advantage of this information to sell you more and beat out their competition. As a small business, you need to learn how you can leverage consumer data to your advantage. You also need to create a marketing plan that offers personalized messaging to your prospective customers telling them why your product or service meets their specific needs. And while you’re doing all of this, you need to make sure it’s EASY to do business with you. Really easy. One or two extra clicks on your website, too many people in line at your store, too long of a wait to reach a live person on the phone…These are all things that can drive consumers of today to your competition.
And make sure that your employees are happy. It’s critical that your employees are brand ambassadors for your business. Most of them don’t just want a big paycheck or promotions, they want to be happy at work and that means feeling like they matter and that the work they are doing contributes to the bottom line. Employee happiness is crucial and is directly tied to their productivity level, which is directly tied to your profits! This matters and it’s a weakness for many employers today. Nontraditional compensation and rewards are emerging that can help you attract and retain the best candidates for your business. Get creative! Tuition reimbursement plans, time off on birthdays, gift card rewards for creating a WOW customer experience, team building activities (bowling night out, pizza party, etc.). These are all ways to engage your employees to be more committed to the organization.
No, I don’t mean start doing yoga, although that’s OK too! I mean get flexible with your work arrangements and your talent strategy. The gig economy is alive and well. So is a remote workforce. Fifty percent of our workers today are in the millennial generation. By 2025, that number will be closer to seventy-five percent. This group is not your baby boomer generation. They are looking for a different employee experience that allows them more freedom and flexibility to choose their path. Can you fill a full-time position with two part-time people? Can you offer remote work a few days per week? Can you outsource some of your work to a freelancer? What about offering flexible hours to get the job done? Think outside the box and you’re likely to find that your employees will be grateful and reward you with loyalty and an improved customer experience.
Whatever trends you choose to embrace, watch out for the six words that can stop your business in its tracks: We’ve always done it that way. It’s a new decade and there is a revolution happening in consumer buying patterns and employee engagement. Grab your sword and join the crusade!
EANE encourages small businesses to rely on the several resources we offer to help you maintain compliance with employment laws that aren’t always on the top of your “to-do” list with all the other tasks that you juggle.
We invite small business owners and managers to register for a free breakfast briefing on Friday, January 17 at our Agawam, MA headquarters. Together with our partners from Market Mentors, we will present Branding Your Small Business in 2020. Learn the key tips that will help you improve internal and external communications and grow your business.