Starting a small businesses may seem easier than ever today, but shaping it into a successful brand for years to come is a real challenge.
After all, more than 543,000 new businesses are launched each month, and there are around 28 million small businesses operating in the US. Competition is incredibly fierce, and transforming your own enterprise into a recognizable brand can be a daunting prospect.
Still, small businesses can compete with larger companies by embracing the latest, most innovative tech trends – but which are set to be the most powerful of 2018?
Telecommuting as Standard
Remote working is simpler than ever now, thanks to the proliferation of online project-management platforms, cloud-based storage, file-sharing, video chat, and real-time collaboration. Small businesses no longer need to rely on sourcing the best candidates from the local talent pool – they can access the strongest workers from across the globe instead.
One key advantage this offers? Reduced overheads. With fewer in-house employees, small businesses face less pressure to rent larger offices or to face the additional costs that come with a bigger team. Managers can still interact with employees using a variety of tools, making geographic restrictions no issue at all.
Many of the best communication and collaboration tools are mobile-friendly, too, allowing remote workers or employees to stay connected when away from their desks. As a result, small businesses can keep their teams focused on a project even when they’re scattered around the world.
Cloud Services Continue to Dominate
92% of small businesses currently use one or more cloud-based solutions, and this will only continue to increase.
Cloud-based services like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and others allow small businesses to keep records, spreadsheets, data analysis, documents, images, presentations, and other vital files together in one place. This allows businesses the freedom and flexibility to hire remote workers, keep up to date with projects while away from the office, and minimizes the need for physical file-storage.
Files can also be shared with clients or associates with a simple invitation, rather than via emails and attachments.
Video Conferencing Makes Virtual Meetings the Norm
For any small business, making connections and fostering relationships is key. Building bridges with clients or associates can be expensive and time-consuming, but only if you plan on meeting in person.
Virtual meetings are a simple, viable solution today, thanks to video conferencing. Real-time communication services, such as those provided by video chat company Agora.io, provide small businesses with powerful connections on a worldwide scale. These ensure crisp sound and clear images beyond the likes of Skype and Facebook Messenger, and expenses can be minimized significantly with no need to travel to another state or country for meetings. You will also free up more time for other tasks.
Video conferencing is a fantastic way to keep teams connected, too. Hosting virtual meetings once or twice a week gives you the chance to check in with remote workers, foster a strong business culture, and collaborate.
Augmented Reality Alters Customer-Engagement
AR is becoming more and more normalized, particularly with last year’s Pokemon Go explosion. Small businesses can incorporate AR into their advertising and services, providing customers with a more engaging solution to educate and inform.
For example, small businesses in the real estate sector can take clients on virtual tours of properties, providing vital information as the user explores the site at their own leisure.
Live Video Enhances Business-Customer Relations
Live chat has continued to become an integral part of online customer service. Simply by clicking on a button, customers can connect with a support agent and receive the help they need.
However, traditional live chat is text-based. Articulating queries or concerns in this way can be difficult, especially when of a technical nature, while customers who struggle with typing may become frustrated.
Video chat will take online customer service to the next level, offering customers a real-time, face-to-face conversation with a support agent. Not only is this more convenient than typing one message after another, it’s faster and less formal.
Agents can read customer’s’ body language and expressions, enabling them to gauge their manner accordingly. On top of this, visual aids and real-time demonstrations will help to resolve issues faster, as customers and agents walk each other through individual problems / solutions.
Small businesses must stay abreast of emerging tech trends to compete in a crowded marketplace. By embracing the best tools and platforms, even the smallest enterprise can build a strong team, establish a solid online presence, cultivate a loyal customer-base, and become a serious contender. Have you considered how these tech trends could revolutionize your business in the coming year?
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