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Small Business Tips and Trends Entrepreneurs Need to Know for 2020

We’re officially just a couple of weeks away from entering a new decade, leaving the 2010’s behind. In the last ten years, an almost unbelievable number of things have changed, and they’ve done so drastically, especially in the business and entrepreneur world. 

The advancements in technology (which includes more accessible and reliable internet) have changed the game across the board, shifting how businesses operate, the overall market, and even what consumers expect and how they behave. 

More changes are coming, and in order to be ready to take on the competition, it’s important for business owners and entrepreneurs alike to know about all the latest tips and trends that will help them in the new year.

Ready to find out what’s coming your way? Let’s look at all the tips and trends for businesses that will help you dominate in 2020! 

1. Customer Service is #1 

This has been a business fact for the last few years, and it’s not going anywhere. Customer service as a major deciding factor in who customers choose to purchase from is a trend that will continue into 2020, demanding that any businesses who want to stay competitive focus heavily on this area.

Just take a look at the following statistics: 

  • 54% of consumers surveyed said their customer service expectations had risen over the previous year. 
  • 90% of consumers believe that an “immediate” response is important or very important when they have a customer service question, which is defined as ten minutes or less by 60% of those surveyed.
  • 48% of consumers expect to see a response to an inquiry on social media within 24 hours. 
  • 72% of consumers expect that customer service agents should be able to know who they are and their past history with the company, including past purchases and engagement.

You can’t afford not to invest in great customer service, so make sure you do the following:

  • Have a strong CRM system. This will help your team quickly access an individual customer’s information during a call to offer the best custom-for-them solutions possible and to follow up later. Hubspot and Salesforce are both great places to start looking. 
  • Be prepared for an influx in customer demand with an answering service. You can’t answer every call, and perhaps even more importantly, you really don’t want to. Hire an answering service to handle any call overflow (or all your initial calls, period, if you want) and ensure that your customers are given the best experience whenever they call… even if it’s at 3AM. 
  • Invest heavily in your customer service training. Make sure that all of your client-facing team members have training in this area, even if they aren’t specifically customer service reps, and hire those who qualify themselves as “a people person,” with strong empathy and attention to detail. 

2. Geography Is Becoming Irrelevant 

With online access to products and services from all over the world that may even be delivered with free shipping, consumers have more choices than ever. This means that unless you’re running a business that is bound by location (think mechanics, plumbers, lawyers, most restaurants), then you’ve got a lot more competition.

While this feels like a bit of a downer, there’s also an upside for businesses, too. If consumers aren’t bound by location, it means you aren’t either. You can intentionally create ad campaigns to reach users all over the world, and even more importantly, your workers can come from all over the world, too.

Remote work is a major trend that businesses will expect to see in 2020, and it’s increasingly the preference of many workers. It allows them flexibility, an easier work-life balance, and the option to take the perfect job for them no matter where it is and without having to move. This means that you can find the absolute top talent out there and have them work for you, even if they’re in Toronto and you’re in Austin.

If you’re really struggling with the idea of remote work, remember that there are so many additional benefits, too. It can save you money since you aren’t paying for big office space and chairs, desks, and computers for every staff member, and it’s also greener; you’re cutting down on waste from having people in-office and even just the car emissions from the transport to and from. 

Here are a few ways that you can adapt to this trend as it continues in 2020:

  • Use communication tools to help your team work remotely. Virtual phone lines like Tresta’s are a great way to go, allowing your team members to just install an app on their phones to get a second line they can use for business purposes. Don’t worry about setting up office phones or sending physical devices across the country. 
  • Look at project management software. Again, teamwork can be a little more difficult when you’re spread out across multiple time zones. Tools like Trello and Asana can help keep everyone on the same page. 

3. Green, Ethical, & Sustainability Take Priority 

Businesses are being held more accountable than they have been in the past. People are worried about the effects that the less-than-great impacts coming from some businesses will have on the society, environment, and economy.

Green, ethical, and sustainable business practices are taking priority, and this is something all businesses should get on board with for ethical and business reputation reasons. People are actively seeking out brands that offer ethical, conflict-free, and green brands that have a strong positive impact on the world. At least 73% Millennials alone will actually spend more on brands that they feel uphold these principles, and this isn’t a trend that’s going to fade out. 

If possible make sure that you’re making green, ethical changes and that people know about it. You can factor it into your branding, release newsletters explaining recent green changes that you’ve made, or even list “sustainable eco-friendly packaging” on product pages. 

Looking for some new ways to do this? These are a few solid suggestions to get started:

  • Make a conscious effort to reduce your carbon footprint. Find eco-friendly packaging, which is ideally recycleable and reduces or eliminates the use of plastic. Go digital so that you’re reducing paper documents and file storage, and consider Cloud-based software since it’s secure and green. 
  • Reduce waste. A great example is finding ways to consume less if it’s unnecessary, which, yes, reduces your carbon footprint, too. Tresta’s virtual phone system prevents you from needing to purchase new phones for every employee and replace them every few years, which is much better for the environment and your bottom line.
  • Do business with others who prioritize the same values. A jeweler could make sure that they’re sourcing conflict-free stones, and a coffee shop could only import coffee from select farms. Be part of the solution by working with vendors and partners who want to do good, too.

4. Machine Learning is Advancing 

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are more prevalent than ever before. We’ve got people talking to computers and even computers talking to computers incredibly frequently, so it’s time to adapt.

Machine learning, for those who are unfamiliar, is a type of artificial intelligence that allows software to evolve as it “learns” from its experience. 

If you’ve got a chatbot on your site that implements machine learning, for example, it may have a built-in functionality to offer product suggestions based on user questions. By evaluating which products users respond to most, software that uses machine-learning will actually be able to fine-tune the process automatically and offer better suggestions moving forward. This isn’t unlike a salesperson fine-tuning their pitch over time, and it can be incredibly effective.

If you aren’t leveraging machine learning for your business yet, here are a few great ways to get started:

  • Leverage machine learning that’s already accessible to you. Facebook Ads, for example, has recently released an option that allows advertisers to create multiple text options for their dynamic ads, and they’ll show each user ads containing information that is most likely to influence them to purchase. You don’t have to pay extra for this functionality, which can help you automate and optimize your campaigns instantly. 
  • Check out machine-learning software to help you with any weaknesses. All businesses struggle in certain areas. For some, it may be finding effective sales tactics and for others it may be predicting the financial status of your business over the next few months. There’s machine learning software that can help with most tasks that involve analytics, so take a look at this list and see if there’s anything that could benefit you. 

5. Mobile Apps Are Redefining Service-Based Industries 

I feel like I hear the phrase “there’s an app for that” every time I talk about any sort of pain point in my life. Am I tired of forgetting about what food I have in my freezer, or managing my budget, or even cooking my own dinner? There’s an app for this and more.

Mobile apps are one key way that businesses are offering more personalized and high-level service for their customers, and it’s keeping the brand relevant and improving retention rates. Imagine getting a push notification from your favorite retail store every time there’s a sale

Mobile apps are important across the board, but they’re particularly crucial for service-based businesses. People want convenience, and the ability to quickly book an appointment with your carpet cleaner or even to pay their statement on an app without having to get on desktop is a huge plus.

This being said, mobile apps may not be for everyone. They should be something that you should consider, and this article can help you decide what’s best for you moving forward. 

None of these business trends for 2020 will likely shock you; our society has been gravitating towards these values for some time now. Just because they’re not brand new doesn’t mean that they aren’t important or that you shouldn’t prioritize them in 2020.

Instead, make sure that your business and its practices are up to speed on these trends, and check out any new tools or resources that may be available to you now that weren’t before. The new year is coming and you’ll be ready.