Top 10 Small Business Trends to Watch in 2020

Top 10 Small Business Trends to Watch in 2020

Jan,2020 By Smarty Software Knowledge Base

Growth is not only a sign of success in business but also it maintains your market share and guaranties a long-term survival. If you are one of those small business owners who believe growth should be your company’s top strategic priority for 2020, you need to stay up with the latest trends to hold a distinct advantage over your competitors. By knowing the latest trends, it is easier to increase your company sales, offer better customer service and operate more effectively. From implementing AI to engaging social media influencers, here are the top ten trends which small businesses and start-ups can leverage for growth in 2020.

Author: Reza Bakhtiary, Smarty Software
 

1. The Rise of Remote Working

As a business owner, you may be working from the living room or a coffee shop right now while you read this article. For a small business, infrastructure and space can impose higher costs on owners. Real estate doesn’t come cheap and according to today’s standard, not even necessary but growth is a crucial factor and small businesses cannot afford to be left behind of the competition because of this matter. That is why today remote work has appealed to many small businesses and working 9–5 in a cubicle all day is no longer the norm. With laptops and smartphones, video conferences and team messaging, technology has reinforced remote working and made it easier than ever. Thanks to this highly functional technique and collaboration tools, nowadays, working is no longer limited by location.

In the past, business owners and managers believed that working from a remote location would lead to lower productivity. However, the researches indicate quite the opposite. A nearly two-year Stanford study proved, those employees who work from home benefit from a more productive environment since they are being less distracted and save more time on commuting to the office. Since this is a fast-emerging small business trend, we already see many small businesses allowing their employees to work remotely which allows business owners to spend less money on rents, utilities and operational expenses (e.g. water and electricity), and hire the most suitable man for the job across the globe.

Technology has changed the basic fundamentals of business. Remote work is now an occasional reality for two-thirds of the world’s workforce while experts predict this trend will quickly become the new norm for even more small businesses and employees. According to data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the number of UK workers who have moved into remote-working has increased by nearly a quarter of a million over the last decade. They believe if this growth continues at the same rate, 50% of the UK workforce will work remotely by the end of 2020.

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2. The Importance of Word-Of-Mouth

Purchasing a new product/service involves many steps but recently, users have started to focus on a single aspect above all others, the reviews. User reviews already play a significant part in influencing your customers to feel more comfortable when purchasing your products or services that other individuals have already tried and reviewed. Nowadays, customer reviews have become one of the key factors in why prospects decide to approach your business and buy what you are offering. It has become the number one thing users look for before buying something. According to recent statistics, almost 9 in 10 potential customers read reviews for local businesses when considering making a purchase. In addition, a recent report by Fan & Fuel indicates, 92% of users hesitate to make a purchase when there are absolutely no reviews available and on the contrary, a 4-star rating by hundreds of customers makes it immediately more appealing to others.

Positive reviews make your business more trustworthy and result in sales growth. In addition, there are new affordable technologies which can help business owners to learn more from customer review data in multiple ways including:

  • Developing new products/services.
  • Enhanced products/services upgrades.
  • Providing improved customer support.
  • Producing better-targeted marketing materials

Therefore, reviews have become absolutely essential to selling products and services online especially for start-ups and small businesses which don’t have a huge marketing budget as their bigger competitors.

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3. The Gig Economy

According to reports, UK’s gig economy has more than doubled in size over the past three years and now accounts for 4.7 million workers (9.6%) comparing to 2.3 million workers (4.7%) three years ago, this statistic goes hand in hand with the rise of the gig economy. A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions for specific needs are more common than ever. Small businesses might not be in a position to hire permanent employees, either because of costs or due to very specific needs that don’t require a full-time employee. The gig economy means that freelancers can select among temporary jobs and projects around the world, while employers can select the right talent for specific projects that require expert help from a pool of freelance workers. Moreover, freelance workers have therefore become increasingly popular since they believe it gives them flexibility and they enjoy being their own boss. Forecasts by PwC predicts that online marketplaces that fuel the gig economy will be worth almost £43bn globally and £2bn in the UK by 2020.

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4. AI Takeover Business Automation

Artificial intelligence (AI) and related automated technologies were once considered too big to affect small businesses but that is about to change now. Nowadays AI isn’t just for business with huge budgets. In fact, AI can help small businesses with cost reduction and delivering excellent customer service experience through smart applications. The most important factor in using AI is how to integrate it with your business process. Although AI has many benefits, it should not be looked at as something that will replace the human workers, rather it must be seen as a co-worker that is going to save us time and increase productivity. In urgent or high-stress situations, AI is proved not efficient enough compare to humans, however, if it is used to reduce the burden of repetitive tasks, it could be a useful tool to alleviate support. For instance, a chatbot powered by pre-programmed responses or artificial intelligence can be used to answer a user’s frequently asked questions without the need of a human operator which would help reduce the workload of customer support representatives and deliver a top-notch experience to customers. Although chatbots aren’t fitting for any business, they are making waves in the customer service area. Customer service AI chatbots can handle many types of queries and even at peak times, chatbots have no waiting. Plus, machine learning also means they get better over time.

AI is often associated with enterprises but it is sure to be a SMEs trend in 2020 as it is essential for small businesses to invest AI and other automation technologies as a means to simplify intensive processes and grow sales. According to MGI (McKinsey Global Institute) analysis, AI will deliver a 22% boost to the UK economy by 2030.

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5. New Social Media Strategies

Today 42% of the world’s population uses social media which accounts for 3.2 billion users worldwide. This makes the social media platform one the perfect commercial spaces to promote products and services. Just in the past year, 366 million new people started using social media which means over a million new people every single day. There is no wonder why the number of small businesses that approach social media platform as a tool to market their offerings continues to grow every day. According to Clutch survey, more than 70 per cent of small businesses across the global used social media in 2018 and that number is expected to grow over the next few years. Platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook continually refine their technology to improve marketing return on investment for their users.

Small business owners are becoming aware of the value of social media influencers. These are professionals who specialise in increasing engagement rates and can leverage their large following to bring attention to your products or services. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, Influencer marketing campaigns earn about £6.50 for each pound spent, so you better consider engaging a social media influencer to help with your next marketing campaigns.

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Stories are the next major trend in social media marketing. Although stories were first introduced by Snapchat, owing to its huge success, it has now become a default feature of almost all social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram. Stories are basically short video content that disappears after 24 hours, which results in authentic and connectable content. Earlier it was regular feed posts that were used to bring attention to a brand on social media but now stories are growing 15x faster than the feeds. In addition, to live streaming, stories will become the primary way by which brands showcase their offerings. This may include posting photos of products and events where users can simply “swipe up” to read more. While stories are short in length and disappear, your business will be able to reach a larger audience and can quickly catch their attention. Therefore in 2020, besides influencer marketing, you need to start to pay more attention to stories and try to build an authentic voice and use it to connect with your target audience.

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6. Personalised Customer Service

Your customers are individuals with their own tastes and want, thus you need to provide them with a personalised experience. Don’t worry, with continuously developing technology, smart personalisation engines can easily recognise customers’ intents and provide tailored personal care for each customer. Gartner reported smart personalisation engines used to recognise customer intent will enable digital businesses to increase profits by up to 15% by 2020. Now that personalised customer service increase profits, you need to step up and take it seriously. For instance, when a customer visits your website, you can suggest products related to their earlier purchases rather than the whole existing products. According to Segment research, consumers expect highly personalised shopping experiences from retailers and are willing to spend more money when brands deliver targeted recommendations. The same research indicates 71% of consumers are frustrated by impersonal experiences.

Additionally, you can benefit from personalised customer services to boost your up-selling and cross-selling strategies which will directly result in sales increase and making sure you delight your customers with a positive experience every time they interact with you. As a matter of fact, between 70% and 95% of a subscription-based SaaS company’s revenue comes from renewals and upsells from existing customers.

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7. E-Commerce Dominance

According to Statista, the global e-commerce market will grow to about $5 trillion by 2024, causing many retailers to move investments from brick-and-mortar storefronts to online stores. As the leading country in Europe in terms of e-commerce market share, UK revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2020–2024) of 4.6%, resulting in a market volume of £78,942m by 2024. Therefore, it is important to leverage social media to gain more sales and use a state-of-the-art warehouse to ship orders more quickly to get a competitive advantage and gain more market share in the future.

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8. Voice Search Enhancement

Smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomePod have already gained huge popularity over the past couple years. For instance, in 2019, Amazon reported they have so far sold 100 million Alexa built-in devices worldwide. According to BrandContent, 40 per cent of the UK population are spending at least half an hour using voice assistants every day and 50 per cent of all searches are expected to be via voice by 2020.

Voice searches are much easier to perform, especially when we are on the go like driving or walking. For this reason, small businesses need to take voice search optimisation into consideration while trying to build an online presence on their channels. You need to create online contents which are not the only keyword-optimised but also are voice-optimised and since it is still relatively new, 2020 is a golden opportunity for your business to develop a tailored voice search SEO strategy.

9. 5G Development

2020 would mark the beginning of a super-fast and highly connected world. 5G networks are expected to spread across the world and bring an abundance of new opportunities to many markets. It is poised to offer average downloads speeds of about 1 Gbps which will radically change the way we interact with the internet. It means interactions will be more instantaneous than ever which will greatly benefit small businesses as you will be able to communicate and get things done much faster. Although implementing this technology in your business may require an initial investment in hardware, software and expertise, the cost will be well worth it because it gives you a competitive advantage over your competitors in the next few years.

10. Data Analytics Fuels SME Strategies

So far data analytics has been used mostly by enterprises to evaluate and improve their business performance but gradually small business began to harness the power of data as well. Easy to use analytic applications are on the rise now which would make big data contextualization easier. No matter size, it is important for any business to have a data management strategy. Raw data will not give you a competitive advantage, however, when it processes its insights and analytics makes your business process run more effectively and may drive your decision-making process. Fortunately, SaaS data management solutions adoption is increasing every day by reducing the investment and expertise required to get started.


The small business space is changing all the time. For instance, trends like AI and influencer marketing are not reserved for big companies anymore. Therefore, it is indispensable for business owners to be aware of the latest business trends in order to achieve growth. Furthermore, keeping up with the latest business trends is a great way to keep your business fresh and always evolving. In this article, I outlined 10 business trends to kick start your growth engines. May they make 2020 a fruitful in your business.


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