After treading water for a number of years, the future is looking bright for small businesses – and they’re actively responding to the positive changes. 99.7% of U.S. employer firms are considered small businesses, and they’ve increased their budgets and are ready to spend this extra money in 2015. SMB leaders are expecting the new year to bring additional profit and growth in revenue. How do we know that? A recent survey of over 1,000 small business leaders shows confidence in the economy and the expectation that company performance will be even better than 2014. Here are three ways your small business can invest in growth during 2015:
- Strategic Technology. Tech plans for 2015 are significantly different than previous years. First, 38% of small businesses intend to increase IT spending. Second, that extra cash is being allocated for new tech initiatives and projects rather than replacing old equipment or maintaining current IT infrastructure.
After topping the list of IT investments in 2014, network (cyber) security remains a top priority for 2015. Small businesses want to protect their customers’ data, especially after seeing how big business was impacted by large-scale breaches in 2014. The fact is that small businesses are just as vulnerable as their larger counterparts. In a recent survey, 31% of small businesses expressed worry that customer credit card information would be stolen through point-of-sale breaches. Unfortunately, these concerns are legitimate. According to a recent McAfee survey, 60% of all cybercrime is now directed at small businesses.
As SMBs look to invest in new tech tools, they need to strategically choose not only what to implement but how to do so securely, eliminating vulnerabilities by creating policies that protect both the company and future customers. When customer data protection is set as a priority, customers will know their safety is important to your company – this is just one way to create customer loyalty. Here are just a few expert security tips: monitor credit, install anti-virus and anti-malware software on all devices, physically secure equipment, and, most importantly, educate employees about risks and best practices.
- Customer Focus. Small businesses anticipating increased profits and revenue growth in 2015, expect to do so by investing in methods that attract and acquire new customers, by improving customer experiences, and by retaining all customers. One method SMBs can use is to present customized or personalized products and services to consumers in order to engage those within the market. Exclusive offers sent to both frequent and loyal customers, not only makes those customers feel like your company recognizes and appreciates their business, but it also makes that customer feel special.
Although a large business, Zappos piloted a unique way to reach specific customers through Instagram and Twitter. Customers who tagged pics with the hashtag #NextOOTD (outfit of the day) were sent a personalized shopping recommendation based on their photo. Don’t ignore what your small business knows about your customers, and use that information to your advantage – your personalized service will place you well ahead of larger competitors.
- Competitive Benefits. As an economic indicator, the falling unemployment rate has given businesses the confidence to hire more people. In 2014, unemployment fell to 5.8%. If it continues to fall at this rate, unemployment would drop by an additional half a percentage point by the second quarter of 2015.
Another reason small businesses are looking to hire is due to diminished concerns about new healthcare laws. As small business leaders saw exactly what insurance premiums looked like under the new law, their worries decreased. This is especially true since there’s more competition among insurance providers and the premium increases are much lower. This is a perfect opportunity for small businesses to offer more competitive benefits to new employees.
SMBs already have the advantage of offering pretty good perks to employees: a bigger voice, closer relationships, learning all the company’s ins-and-outs, developing a variety of skills, and making a greater impact. With more reasonable health insurance options, SMBs can now offer a significant financial benefit.
As a small business owner, you will need to make investments in your company’s future; with all of the choices available, you will need to choose wisely. Luckily, it looks like 2015 holds plenty of variety and opportunities for you to do just that.
- Select tech products that will improve your business efficiency while protecting you and your customers
- Develop and offer personalized products and services to attract and retain customers
- Hire new staff to provide quality service to your customers, this will pay huge dividends in the long-run
Secure tech tools will protect your business and your customers, as well as allow you to make informed business decisions, maximize your current opportunities, and turn future prospects into new, more satisfied and loyal customers. Developing a team focused on providing the best service possible creates a positive reputation that just can’t be bought. These investments not only improve your business, but they will cause you to grow (revenue and profits) and give you a significant advantage over your competition.Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community