As many of you know, I do a LOT of reading of professional and academic journals. Published research helps me stay on top of new ideas and developing trends. And the new year has four major trends already set for business! These trends aren’t new, but they’ve come together in a whole new way. Your preparation will determine whether you sink…or swim.
Trend 1: Entrepreneurial Orientation
Lots of talk about this buzz-phrase in the last year and it may have a significant impact on startups and micros in 2017. Entrepreneurial orientation includes a mix of characteristics: innovation, risk-taking, and proactiveness. Research says the more you develop these characteristics and are able to harness them, the more successful you’re likely to be.
Innovation isn’t just creating a new product or service idea. It includes creativity, of course, but also a willingness to explore new tech and new business methods through a more hands-on testing and data analysis role. An innovative entrepreneur in 2017 will learn how to handle his or her own data and adapt strategies from results.
Risk-taking is common to leaders of all sizes of business. This is an extraverted quality but besides being willing to take bold action, it may include the willingness to commit resources in uncertain business climates and situations. With a new president, nearly all businesses are facing uncertain an economic climate, but the risk-taker – having run the numbers – will find favorable odds and be willing to gamble more.
Proactiveness is the most challenging requirement of a progressive and successful business. This requires foresight – which means considering all the possible consequences of every option available. Then, by acting in anticipation of future outcomes and events, a proactive entrepreneur can strategize to maximize those situations.
Trend 2: Agile
This buzzword has been a trend for a while, but it may be more relevant in 2017.
Micros, this is your chance to shine! For all the talk about agile, SMEs aren’t as able to move quickly. Make the most of your flexibility. This means one of your first tasks of the new year might be an audit of your entire business.
Look at your financials and streamline where you can to improve profits so you’ll have cash more readily available to invest if and when the right opportunity presents itself. Evaluate your systems to see if you might make processes more efficient. Finally, think seriously about your business goals and values; make sure your people are on board with what your company represents. When you’re all on the same page, making decisions is simpler and faster.
Trend 3: Emergency Preparation
No, you don’t need an underground bunker for this, but it’s a few steps beyond an alarm system or a fireproof safe.
Very few small and micro businesses are prepared for any kind of crisis that might impact management and decision-making. The past couple years have shown too many examples of how natural disasters, hacking, and even personal and political disagreements can harm lives and businesses.
The odds that you’ll be affected are relatively low, but isn’t it better to have a plan in place? Micros, you’re more agile so this should be easier for you. Use past examples as “what-if” scenarios and create tentative plans to keep things going strong. Get your people in on this and figure out the best way everyone can respond if something happens.
Trend 4: Building Online Trust
Psychology knows we trust people we like, and we like people because they’ve given us something, or because we see them as similar. We trust businesses (online and offline) who build relationships.
And if you’re one of those businesses, you’re constantly reaching out and inviting engagement. Maybe people respond and maybe they don’t, but you’re making it clear that you’re friendly, approachable, and interested in people. That’s the attitude that gets you fans.
You can find plenty of ways to tweak your online presence and shift your brand to a more trustworthy position. Here are a few to get you started: use new stock photos that haven’t been used by everyone else, ask for photos with testimonials, provide free content and resources, make yourself known locally and share your local publicity online, and keep your audience in the center of the stories you tell.
There are no guarantees. But research – and the business gurus – are in agreement that these trends are hot for the new year. The smart strategy is to jump on them as quickly as you can!
In the meantime, I want to wish you a very happy new year! I hope you’ll stop by and say hi on Twitter or share a little holiday cheer on Facebook – or leave a comment here about how you plan to tackle 2017 trends!