A new year means new opportunities for your business. And 2020 isn’t just the start of a new year, it’s the start of a new decade — one that’s set to see rapid change. Between new generations joining the workforce and new technologies setting a breakneck pace for innovation, there’s clear potential for organizations that manage to get ahead of the trends.
So how can your small business best to prepare and invest for success in 2020 and beyond?
While no one can know exactly what the future holds, here are a few resolutions to help you stay on trend for the coming year.
Resolution #1: Get to know your customer
The face of the modern consumer is changing. Gen Z now makes up the largest percentage of the population and Millennials account for nearly 50% of the active workforce. Combined they make up a rapidly growing proportion of consumers, changing the way we work and the way we shop.
Both generations are looking for connected, meaningful experiences that go beyond the use of technology for technology’s sake. While it’s true they expect technology to be used to improve their experiences, younger generations are more likely than their predecessors to consider the social impact of their purchases — they want to contribute to companies that operate fairly, ethically, and make a positive difference in the world.
As their participation in the economy continues to grow over the next decade, keeping a pulse on what “the kids are into” will become a business imperative.
Resolution #2: Travel more (i.e. go mobile).
The mobility trend is here to stay. The ability to deliver experiences wherever your customers are, whether through ecommerce or mobile apps, is critical to remaining relevant in the 2020s.
But mobility is equally important for employees. Collaboration tools and tech solutions like virtualization keep your team connected and allow them to get work done from anywhere. Embracing a more flexible, mobile workforce gives you access to a wider pool of talent, including remote or contract workers, and helps your employees achieve the work-life balance that more than 70% say is “very important” to their career.
If you haven’t optimized for mobile experiences, 2020 is the year to finally cross this resolution off your list.
Resolution #3: Make time for human connection.
Customer expectations are at an all-time high, demands for faster, smarter, more personalized experiences have led many businesses to invest heavily in automation and AI to help bridge the gap.
There’s no doubt that data-driven experiences are the way of the future. But despite the rise of increasingly advanced solutions, 86% of people still prefer to interact with a human over a chatbot when it comes to customer service.
As buyers and sellers, we crave efficiency, but as people, we seek genuine connection. It’s this understanding that has led the shift in focus from the Customer Experience (CX) to the Human Experience (HX). Technology offers some exciting tools for helping to understand and serve our customers, but in the next few years, it will be important to remember these tools should be used to enhance the human touch, not replace it.
Resolution #4: Give women a seat at the table.
The late twenty-teens saw women making strides in leadership roles around the world, and the narrowing of the gender gap has a range of benefits across the board.
Empowering women in leadership has been linked to increased productivity, collaboration and overall satisfaction in the workplace. Companies that rank highest in gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform their competition — and female-owned businesses have outpaced the overall increase in new businesses by 1.5x.
Yet by the end of 2019, only 29% of senior management roles were held by women.
Those businesses that get ahead of this trend stand to reap the greatest rewards as new female leaders bring new ideas and new opportunities for growth.
Resolution #5: Trim down, stay “fit.”
As you plan out your New Year’s diet or workout resolution, consider doing the same for your business.
Over the years, it can be easy to lose track of recurring payments, extra software licenses, duplicate data or other outdated, unnecessary expenses. As you work through your 2019 taxes, take the opportunity to conduct an internal audit to see where you can consolidate, eliminate waste, and cut costs.
The new year is also a good time to work with vendors to make sure you’re maximizing savings throughout production. Look beyond your primary costs to see where processes can be optimized as well. Consider modernizing your marketing efforts to reduce expensive print materials, or installing smart, energy saving solutions to reduce overhead.
The more efficient your spending is now, the better positioned you’ll be for whatever the next decade brings.