It is often said that the greatest sporting players understand where the ball is headed, rather than where it is right now. The same can be said for business. By solving tomorrow’s problems, you stay ahead of the game. This is how successful companies operate.
So how can your business remain relevant and what is the future of business in 2020 and beyond?
Within reason, any industry can be a growth industry if you innovate, disrupt, or add efficiency or comfort. In my business investments I am not on the lookout for industry-specific businesses. Instead, I analyse the individual company and the way in which it adds value to the marketplace. If a company provides a better delivery of their product or service than their competitors, they are going to be on top.
If you are looking to start a new business and you’re asking what the next big industry is, you are asking the wrong question. Instead, discover where your skills, competence and experience lie. Which market do you understand really well and how can you contribute in a meaningful way that is going to impact people’s lives? THAT is how you disrupt.
RISE OF THE ENTREPRENEUR
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were more than 2.3 million actively trading businesses in Australia in June 2018, an increase of 3.4% from June 2017, with no sight of growth slowing down. 2020 sees an explosive rise of entrepreneurs for a few reasons.
Firstly, being a business owner is more tangible than ever, in a digitised world and with online courses like Navig8Biz taking over the world, it’s never been easier to get educated to set up a business. And with free content like the Better Business podcast, everyone has access to knowledge they didn’t have before.
Secondly, 20 years ago, starting a business was an unfavourable pathway to success – because it was misunderstood – while now, it is widely accepted, embraced and even encouraged.
Thirdly, with the increase of automated roles, self-employment will become a more viable option – if your job is obsolete, why not create your own?
According to the Ombudsmen, the highest proportion of small business owners are between 45 and 59 years old. An ageing population means more leaders are leaving the financial and creative limitations of Executive and CEO roles, to head up their own ventures.
And finally, the gig and freelance space will expand as businesses realise that full-time employees may not provide as much value for dollar, depending on the role they need to fill.
DECENTRALISATION AND CO-WORKING SPACES
On the rise of entrepreneurs, comes the rise of co-working spaces. We are on the cusp of an enormous shift when it comes to location-dependant businesses. In the 1940s, came the 9-5 office hours. With this corporate landscape, came cigarette-smoke-filled rooms, petition desks and unfulfilled, desk-bound employees. No longer making sense in the current digital climate, this system isn’t just disliked, it’s obsolete.
Communication has significantly changed, and the future of business in 2020 aims to decentralise teams, freeing entrepreneurs from hefty office leases and all the trimmings that come with them. Instead, we will see a mass movement towards business owners (and their employees) working from hot desks, co-working spaces, cafes and libraries.
The setup is valuable for both parties – the business owner has access to the best talent across the globe, regardless of their location. Additionally, their staff are permanently tethered as the traditional work hours continue to blur. In turn, the employee is granted the freedom to work in environments and timeframes that are conducive to creativity and productivity. It’s a win-win scenario.
Having been in the education space for many years, I’ve seen it all. However, I’ve noticed a huge drive towards quick, digestible content that can be absorbed on the fly. The ability to gather content that is relevant, educational, interesting and easy-to-digest, whilst providing enormous value at a low entry point, is in demand.
Online education provides up-to-date learning and value to those who are already decades into their career or business, or to those who are facing a career or life change but don’t have the time or funds to sit through a degree. Gone are the days when you needed to spend four years in a dusty lecture room. Education is at your fingertips, and it’s never been easier or more important to continue learning.
Therefore, the future of business includes education and this should be the year you start implementing online education into your business. If you’re a pastry chef selling cupcakes, you could be teaching others how to make cupcakes, whether that’s on a free channel such as YouTube or via a sophisticated learning platform. While this provides an opportunity to scale your business, it’s an excellent marketing tool to expand the reach of your existing business. Similarly, if you need help starting or overhauling your business, Navig8Biz online courses are an excellent way to learn everything you need to know.
It’s no secret that technology is a treadmill of innovation. So, as a business, how do you keep up and innovate? Firstly, consider whether your client or customer has the demand for innovation, technology and efficiency. If you don’t know the answer, then ask them in person or via a survey.
Once they reveal their pain point, you’ll have a better understanding of how to fix it, and whether technology is required in the solution. Innovation can be costly. However, successful businesses understand their market, customers and their own capabilities. Therefore, they understand whether their company requires the latest technology.
SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Social media is the modern day newspaper, magazine, television and radio.The question isn’t, “Should my business exist on social media?’ but rather, “On which social media platforms should my company be active?” There are no bad ones, there are only better ones, each of them specifically suited to different businesses, or different audiences within your business.
If you don’t know where to start, follow these steps.
Begin by using all social platforms.
Evaluate each platform and collect data.
Understand which platform is providing more clicks to your website and therefore converting to sales.
Understand the demographics of your audience on each platform.
Find out where your customers are spending all their time.
Use each platform to engage with your audience and understand what they want.
Learn how to communicate differently with each audience, whilst keeping the brand message coherent.
Once you’ve evaluated data, you’ll know where you should be allocating your time and advertising money. In general, the more you understand your customers, the more value you can provide, and the better you can optimise your marketing strategy.
Sustainability, climate change and environmental impact is on everyone’s lips and if your brand isn’t on board the eco-ship, then it needs to be. Offering products, packaging and delivery methods that are eco-conscious are just the tip of the melting iceberg when it comes to implementing sustainability into your business. If the planet isn’t on your moral radar, it should be on your marketing radar. An exponential increase in search engine keywords on the topic shows a rising demand for eco-friendly brands.
Personalisation should be on the agenda of every business this year. As the old adage goes, ‘People buy from people.’ In 2020, we will see the personalisation as a HUGE area of demand, driven by the increase of automation, consumption, information, technology and loneliness. Customer service and marketing teams will need to get savvy. If you want to stand out, build a cult following and consistently LISTEN to feedback. This year will be all about engagement; a personalised experience for the customer has never been more important.