The Top 10 Small Business Trends in 2016

Small Business

Small business trends, like most other trends, come and go. Some are hot one moment and obsolete the next. With so many changes every year, small businesses grow and evolve more rapidly than ever, and the small business market is ever changing. Old rules are in again, new rules are no longer all that interesting and more workers than ever before are changing jobs more frequently, opening their own businesses and freelancing in their spare time.

The normal, a term we use very loosely here, has changed – again. Small businesses when my parents were growing up meant ice cream shops on the corner, small stores and little restaurants. The internet wasn’t invented, smart phones were not even a thought and constant communication and the ability to reach millions of people in the matter of one properly used and carefully timed hashtag were not even around.

The world has certainly changed in the past 50-something years. Even for me growing up, owning a small business meant owning an antique shop, a coffee shop or some small boutique. Today, I own my own business. I am my employee. I work from home and most people I know have no idea that I spend my day sitting behind my home office desk writing my little heart out. It’s my business. I can reach millions of people in one 140-character tweet, show off a photo of myself hard at work to thousands of people on Instagram and get my name out there in a way that never seemed possible growing up.

Small businesses are one-woman operations with women taking photos of themselves wearing clothing and accessories designed by designers who want their name out there, who want their brand to reach all those business women’s followers on Instagram. Men and women are their own brands, and they’re turning themselves into models, walking advertisements and their homes into chic museums photographed to perfect and shared with hundreds of thousands of followers every single day.

Small business trends come and go, but one thing is certain; small business owners willing to do whatever it takes to succeed – which is grow, evolve and embrace changing trends – are more likely than ever before to reach levels of success the rest of the world only dreams of achieving. The rest of us – we aren’t dreamers; we are doers and we are taking the world by storm using some of the hottest small business trends of the year (every year).

Business Collaboration

Small business trends this year include collaboration. Gone are the days when it was every man for himself. In this day and time, businesses everywhere are working to ensure that their communities are working together to make small businesses bigger and better. I’ve seen it in my own community.

Living a small coastal town along the Gulf in Florida, we have a darling little downtown area that gets together during Christmas to create Whoville. The restaurants, the wine bars, the art galleries, the boutiques; they all get together and decorate their businesses, dress up themselves and really get into things for the month. They have a festival, they have activities, they bring people in and encourage them to look around, go to the other businesses and they really collaborate.

This is a community in which family is everything, tradition is wonderful and the small town oceanfront feel is what we live for. It’s why it works for us, and it’s why it works for so many other small businesses across the country.

Mobile Business Ventures

I received a Victoria’s Secret gift card in my stocking on Christmas morning, and I decided to use it last week to apply toward a few new swimsuits since it’s almost summer here in Florida (don’t be jealous, northerners….we’re hot all the time). I open my browser on my trusty smart phone and lo and behold, I could not get my gift card to work there. I could enter it, it recognized it, but the phone kept changing the number to my email address and invalidating it.

It took me two days to realize I could log onto my VS account on my actual laptop or iPad and order from there instead. Instead, I’d ordered those things using just my debit card and didn’t even bother with the gift card since I couldn’t get it to work and I can’t find swimsuits in any VS near us, so using it at the store was pointless. I figured I’d try and remember my gift card the next time I was in the story myself and pick up some new panties or bras.

Two days, people; two days. It took me two days to remember I can online shop on more than just my iPhone. That’s how mobile the world has become. When I want to connect with likeminded business people, I open my Instagram app. When I want to perform a quick internet search, I bust out Google on my phone. Mobile business opportunities are everywhere to the point that most of us walk around with our phones attached to our bodies as an additional appendage.

Small businesses that want to succeed need to get on board with this. Their customers want to be able to look at their product, complete their transaction and never leave the couch with their phone to do it all. If your small business has yet to accept the fact that most of the world wants to do business via mobile devices, it’s time to do that now. It’s a changing world, friends, and you have to change with it or get out of it.

Social Networking

If you use social media at all, you’ve probably already noticed this trend. Long gone are they days your friends and followers post about their personal lives unless it somehow tells a story about their business lives. They’re looking to reach others with their stories. Beachbody coaches share photos of their kids playing on Hawaiian beaches with short captions telling their friends and family that two years ago they were living in massive debt, paycheck to paycheck and now thanks to this amazing business opportunity, they are living a life of good health, confidence and financial freedom.

Good for them – and I mean that. I have no begrudging feels for those people. You do what you do, and I’ll do what I do, and we will make our dreams come true our own ways. I love that they’ve found a way to make a living, be with their families and be present. The same goes for those ‘crazy wrap people’ as they call themselves. The same goes for the woman who owns the Etsy shop who takes artful photos of her kids wearing her adorable Etsy items so she can talk about ‘this face right here…it’s why I do what I do, and I’m glad I do it.”

Social networking is all the rage, and everyone who is looking to expand their business gets on board with that. I share my work on social media. I share photos of things that my readers email me about most often (I do not respond to negative emails, rudeness or name-calling, however) so that I can answer more people at once and potentially engage new people at the same time. I bring them into my world since I feel as if I am already in theirs.

Small businesses are using social networking to promote any and everything that they do, and it’s what makes the small business world spin.

Business Security

Another big trend we will see as far as small businesses are concerned is the desire for more security. According to the Huffington Post, nearly 66% of cybercrimes are now directly related to small businesses, which puts them at risk for losing more than they might feel comfortable with.

It makes more sense for smaller businesses to put more time and effort into securing their networks with the help of companies such as since criminals are no longer focusing their energies on targeting only major corporations when it’s so much easier to target small businesses in mass locations. It doesn’t matter to criminals where they obtain their thieved funds, just that they do. They can take a lot from one place or a little from several places just as easily.

This year, expect small business trends to embrace the security that is being offered to them, which will very likely lead to an increase in small securities companies and IT administration and security companies opening thanks to men and women freelancing their skill set on the side of their regular jobs.

Changing Rights in the Workplace

Gone are the days when an employee works for the same company for decades, earns that pension and retires from the same company after 30+ years in the same place. Today, the average employee spends about three years in one place, moving often, learning, growing and taking advantage of other opportunities. One such opportunity is the chance to freelance and start a small business on the side, whether it’s a small store on Instagram or Etsy, a freelance gig or whatever. If you can dream it, you can do it.

This year, we will see ever-changing rules regarding workplace rights. Now that more people than ever do not work full-time positions in favor of part-time gigs here and there to earn a bigger salary, small businesses might have to change the way that they offer insurance, retirement and other package benefits being lost by the changing face of the workplace.

Expanding Goals

If 2015 taught us anything, it’s that the business world has made a comeback and it’s now time to start focusing on the growth of small business. For many years, it was more of a focus on just staying afloat in times of crisis and uncertainty. It appears, however, that small businesses have moved out of crisis mode and have moved on to a place where they can expand their goals and focus on growth.

This year, you’ll see one of the biggest small business trends is about making new goals, learning new things and welcoming the opportunity to expand business growth in a manner that has not been all that feasible since 2008. With shifting mindsets, it’s now a time to focus on growth and success rather than mere survival.

Small Business Marriage

What does that mean? Well, we’re not entirely certain we even used the correct term, but we know what it is we are saying. What we are saying is that you’re going to see an influx of small business owners who own more than one small business. It’s all about diversity and diversifying portfolios and clientele.

What do we mean? You might see a business owner with a cupcake shop who also owns a tee-shirt business who also does lawns and pressure washes houses on the weekends. This is a no longer called odd jobs, it’s called entrepreneurship. People are looking to make sure that they have a business that allows them to do any and everything that they can possibly do. It helps them to focus on job security, to line up clients from all around the community and to make a living in a potentially profitable manner.

Grassroots Movements

The world of small business is challenging, at best. There is nothing more stressful than being a small business owner who wonders whether or not they will still be in business a year from now. For this reason, many small business owners are looking to take over their industry with these movements so that they can gain more civil rights. For example, a recent movement by the name of TakeBackNYC has been formed by small business owners who are looking for fairer tenant’s rights in their businesses. They’re tired of being run out of their locations and their buildings so that bigger businesses who are willing and able to pay more money can move in.

It’s not a fair practice, and it’s not something that will change overnight. However, more and more business owners are taking a stance against this type of discrimination and they are joining movements that allow them the opportunity to fight for new rights and bigger and better things for small businesses.

Local Collaborations

Another one of the biggest small business trends for 2016 is the local collaboration. We see it now with big businesses and with Instagram celebrities, but it’s also hot with small businesses. More than ever, small businesses are looking for up-and-coming Instagram celebrities with a significant following to model their items, to use their décor, to tag themselves at their restaurant. What they want is to reach more followers, find new fans and show the world that they are a ‘cool’ place to be/shop/dine.

Just like you might find department stores such as Nordstrom hitting up Instagram celebrities with hundreds of thousands of followers to model their clothing, you might find a small boutique in a small community offering a local Insta-celeb a small fee to model their items so that they can reach more, sell more and even increase their online presence and revenue.

Online Presence

What’s happening in today’s business world is that baby boomers with small businesses are not going to survive if they do not make an online presence. Now that more millennials than ever before have such a significant online presence, it’s in their favor to have outside influence. Business owners may also seek the services of agencies like to help them maintain a great brand reputation online.

For example, when a small boutique uses social media models to wear and promote their items, they do so in hopes that they will drive outside sales and business through their internet portal through the roof. When an online presence is not there, it’s less likely people will use this method.

For example, I will absolutely forgo a restaurant or a shop that does not have a website if I have to choose. If I cannot see you online, I will not visit you in person. That’s how the world of small business works these days.

Photo by Getty Images


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