New Year, New Tech Tools for Small Business
The trends, insights, and solutions you need to grow your business.
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As small business owners kick off this new year with bright goals for increased productivity and revenues, they'll look at new tech tools and expand on what they know is working.
Here are a few of the trends industry experts and entrepreneurs say deserve attention from small businesses for a successful new year.
Couple with a multilayered strategy of implementation, modernized checkout growth in the past year is expected to continue, according to Keara Dowd, web editor for BizTech.
"Whether it's BOPIS or contactless transactions, shoppers are now accustomed to completing their purchases in the manner that is most convenient for them at the moment. Delivering on this expectation requires a modernized checkout approach," she writes in a BizTech post about retail tech trends.
"This includes point-of-sale improvements such as mobile and contactless options, but it also incorporates a holistic approach that integrates connectivity and applications. Organizations need to use the latest technology in each of these areas to accommodate customer expectations and industry trends."
The impact of influencer marketing — the social media marketing that involves endorsements and product placements by "influencers” — continues to grow, and it's cited as a viable marketing tool for small businesses in the next year.
A study by Klear, an influencer marketing platform for Fortune 500 brands and agencies, showed a 26.7 percent increase in sponsored Instagram posts in 2021, while sponsored stories increased by 33.5 percent, with influencers creating an average of 16 sponsored stories a week.
“Online platforms and social media channels such as Instagram and TikTok can help small businesses tell their stories to drive awareness and excitement,” says Sharon Finn Connell, co-founder of Capo Initiative, a Chicago-based diversity, equity, and inclusion consultancy.
“Influencers both large and small (micro-influencers) strengthen the story by providing relevance and endorsements,” she says in an article posted by Forbes Coaches Council.
Marketing specialists often steer small businesses toward seeking out micro-influencers, who have between 10,000 and 50,000 followers, because they’re typically lower in cost than the most popular influencers, and some accept payment in goods and services.
Plus, some micro-influencers can generate as much if not more engagement for your business.
According to the 2021 Influencer Benchmark Report released by Influencer Marketing Hub, micro-influencers with less than 15,000 followers have an engagement rate of about 18 percent, much higher when compared with influencers with more than a million followers who are at 5 percent.
“Influencer marketing is ultimately all about engagement. This means the higher the engagement the more effective the influence,” says a post by Marketing magazine.
Adopting the Systems and Processes of Big Business
If you haven’t already, this may be the year you’ll consider technology once meant and affordable to only bigger companies.
It's important for small businesses to begin adopting big business procedures and processes to achieve success, says business and finance coach Carlos Then, owner of Mr. Then Consulting.
“What I mean by this is that small businesses need to set up toll-free numbers, interactive voice response systems and automations, and structure their businesses as if they are much larger than they are,” he said in a Forbes Coaches Council post. “This will be crucial to their success.”
“Small businesses are always looking for opportunities to maximize their capabilities with limited headroom,” says an article in BizTech magazine by Julie Malaga and Jeff Cerrato.
Malaga is a public cloud specialist, and Cerreto is a productivity solutions specialist at the multibrand technology solutions provider CDW, which publishes BizTech magazine.
“When it comes to optimizing operations, there are few tools that can be more impactful than automation,” they write in the post.
An increasing number of small business owners are using automation - some of whom started during the pandemic to automate curbside pickup or process new leads.
Eighty-eight percent of the businesses surveyed in a study by Zapier said automation enables their company to compete with larger businesses.
The 2021 Zapier State of Business Automation Report also says 66 percent of those surveyed described automation as critical in allowing them to make the necessary pivots.