As you know, we live in an environment where it’s “blink,” and you missed it. Still, there’s always an urgent need to keep on top of what is happening so that you can stay ahead in business. I own several companies and, candidly, I don’t think there’s a single day I’m not thinking about how to make things better and improve our competitive advantage in our industries.
A couple of days ago I read an article about a luxury yacht company that had been in business for generations, and although they had client orders on hand, in the tens of millions of dollars, they fired everyone and shuddered their doors. They were hemorrhaging money and not paying attention to the changing winds.
The reality is that I can sit here today and write what you want to be looking for in business trends and then a year from now, write the same sort of article with different ideas to keep an eye on as business and society evolve. Still, there are some areas that I think will remain constant and you should pay attention to in your company.
Always Pay Extra Attention to Millennials
For decades and decades, the “darling” of generations were the Baby Boomers because of their sheer size and buying power. As the Boomers are now seniors, the same can be said about Millennials. They will be, and already are, a force for years to come and they are the first generation that is pure digital natives. Your products and services should be marketed to them and how they think. By 2020, Millennials will have an estimated $1.4 trillion in spending power.
Get Comfortable With AI, IoT, and ML
What used to be buzzwords such as AI, IoT, and ML, are not anymore. They are not the future; they are the present. Most of you know about AI (Artificial intelligence), IoT (Internet of Things), but maybe you have not heard about ML (Machine Learning). Machine learning is when computers do things without being programmed to do it because they are learning it for themselves. Through machine learning, we are given self-driving cars, excellent web search tools, practical speech recognition programs and a host of other platforms. As technology evolves, all of these elements will play a more substantial part in life and business.
I have a preference for my team to be onsite, but for some functions and aspects of our work, these elements are outsourced. Currently 40% plus of American workers are doing some work remotely, without having to be present at their place of business all the time. This trend creates demand for adequately training remote employees through video conferencing platforms, especially for social media and programming positions. All that is required is a computer and Internet.
Get Past the Clutter
The way you brand your business is essential. People are drowning in data and information, and you have to be able to cut to the chase immediately. Branding, which encompasses the name, logo, etc., creates instant identification. With excellent branding, you are perceived as an authority, successful and trustworthy because you pay attention to the details. Also it makes prospecting easier. Customers find you. You can hire better talent. Candidates seek you out rather than looking to apply for a position with an unknown company. Because of branding, it is easier to create more businesses under the same name.
Opportunity Exists in Buying Businesses
There are more businesses for sale due to the retirement of the Baby Boomer and Millennials will be buying them and then reinventing the companies they buy. Keep an eye out for your competition because there’s always an opportunity in looking to buy an existing competitor. For instance, you can buy their entire client base, or perhaps they’ve excelled in e-commerce, and you’re able to bring that into your portfolio. I’ve successfully purchased some of my competitors, and it’s only helped my businesses grow.
Away Status Functions On Instant Messaging Platforms
Before Slack, my morning routine was typically to get into the office, plan my day, scan through emails for anything that needed immediate attention, and then get working on my backlog of priority tasks. After Slack, I’ve found when I get into the office I open Slack and, for each account, I go through all the channels with notifications and read through each channel. Throughout the day I find myself responding to “fires” and answering questions that I probably don’t need to dedicate my time to. In 2018, a trend that will help is using Slack more like email messaging by turning it on only during certain times and for a certain length and then closing it. Turning on away messages and focusing on what matters is a trend I need back.
Greater Reliance On A Freelance Workforce
I already work with many freelancers, but as I grow, I expect that all my workforce is going to essentially be a freelance workforce rather than any traditional employees. This is a good thing, as it allows me to scale up and down with different businesses I am working on, and implement projects on an on-demand basis. In turn, I can continue to maintain a lean budget without having to contend with so many overheads. Even if business should slow at all, I can adjust accordingly without having to worry about letting employees go.
Blockchain’s Interruption Of New Industries
Blockchain has already made a big impact on the banking industry, and this year, it will make its way into new industries. Everything from procurement to legal management will be looking to blockchain to increase security throughout the entire customer experience. For business leaders like me, we’ll need to keep our eyes on the horizon for opportunities to integrate new technology like this into our business processes.