This month at the SiGNAL BiZHUB we've been exploring trends for 2020. We've looked at LinkedIn trends, how to use surveys to identify trends in your own business and disruptive trends that might present opportunities or threats. But what are the small business trends for 2020 that affect the way you work? What factors will dominate our workplaces in Whitehill & Bordon in the coming year?
Here are 5 we think are worth watching:
1. Starting a small business will become even easier and cheaper
Technology has already made starting a small business much more accessible to entrepreneurs and freelancers. SaaS solutions like online bookkeeping tools help businesses cut costs. Customers can be reached on social media with the minimal spend. 3D printing has made prototyping and manufacturing more affordable. All of these technologies are easy to get started with, and online support is widely available making starting a business even more accessible.
While digital technology isn't new, the cost of entry continues to decline while the scope of the solutions available increases. If you've got an idea for a new business, technology won't hold you back!
2. More opportunities for freelancers
More businesses are seeing the benefits of outsourcing work to freelancers rather than hiring inhouse staff.
Millennials are driving this trend. This generation have never experienced job security in the same way their grandparents have, and so in many cases don't see any advantage to being on the books vs. being freelance. They also like the independence and opportunity to gain different experiences by working for different clients and on different projects.
Businesses that want to be agile, able to flex the workforce according to its needs, are increasingly developing operating models that include more freelance work. This trend is on the up.
3. Remote working
Many freelancers work remotely from home and this is driving another trend in the modern workplace. Remote working. There are many advantages to a business in having a remote workforce (or offering some flexible working arrangements). Studies show that productivity increases when employees have autonomy over how they work and aren't tied to the office. Technology facilitates this trend, as does the increase in coworking spaces popping up in cities and towns around the country.
Remote working also enables small businesses to hire the best talent, potentially recruiting someone who lives in another area of the country or even globe. And it increases employee engagement and happiness, helping businesses attract the best talent because of their remote working policies.
4. More collaboration between small businesses
All the above trends are driving another significant trend and that's a more collaborative relationship between different small businesses. Technology has increased opportunities to communicate with other businesses, such as through open source models which increase innovation and promote collaboration. Online forums and chats such as LinkedIn and Facebook groups, allow business owners to develop relationships with others; and, of course, small business groups like the SiGNAL BiZHUB do this online and offline with regular meetings and members' only chats.
Coworking and flexible workspaces are also part of this trend. Here at SiGNAL we see collaborations between different businesses developing on a daily basis as coworkers and residents of the SiGNAL Village share our workspace.
5. Sustainability will be a business necessity
Awareness of the impact of our economic models and consumer culture has never been higher. Customers, both B2C and B2C, are increasingly demanding that the businesses they buy from are doing their bit for the planet. As local authorities and governments come under more pressure to hit carbon neutral targets by 2030, we can expect a raft of new regulations, taxes and other initiatives that will impact our businesses too.
Even though you may be a micro business owner or freelancer with a relatively low carbon footprint, there are likely to be things you can do to become more sustainable. It's also a business necessity. Regulations might not directly impact you but they could affect your supply chain, so it's worth exploring how you can future proof your business now against these eventualities.
These are our 5 top small business trends for 2020. If you have a different perspective or would like to add to these, join the Bordon Business Hub group on Facebook and share your thoughts there.