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Business trends to ignore in 2020 (and some you should follow)

It’s 2020. A new year, a new decade (!!) is upon us. You’ve got the classic mixed bag of emotions - excitement, motivation, stress - rushing through you as you plan for the next year in business.

But, with a bazillion reports being published on the business trends for 2020, how’s a person to know what’s a solid business practice and what’s a fleeting trend?

Sometimes it helps to talk things out - so let’s do just that! We’ll highlight some of the major trends and discuss the merit of each.

Social media remains hugely popular around the world, with TikTok making a major push forward in 2020.

Let’s discuss: You probably have a Facebook account, maybe an Instagram account for personal use - maybe even an Instagram business account - and you definitely use YouTube. It’s less likely you actively use Twitter (unless to read the latest from one unnamed president), Pinterest, WeChat, LinkedIn, Reddit or Snapchat.

As it stands, 1 in 3 people use social media worldwide with the total number of users projected to increase over time.

But here’s the big question - have you heard of TikTok? If you have, it’s because all the (cool) kids are using it. Major brands are investing in this platform; TikTok even has “influencers” now! TikTok launched in 2016 and by 2018 had ½ a billion users - that’s impressive.

When it comes to social media trends for 2020, reports are pointing towards jumping on the TikTok train. And if your small business is marketing towards Gen Z this may be a good idea. If not, you should be able to focus your marketing efforts elsewhere.

Social media and digital marketing in general are excellent ways to reach potential customers, especially with the ability to target and track your efforts and dollars.

If you do want to utilize social media in 2020 to grow your small business, consider these first steps:

  • Ask your clients where they’re spending their time on social media, this way you can narrow in on those platforms.
  • Focus on quality - the quality of your posts, the quality of your engagement and audience. Even if you have a small group of engaged followers, that’s better than a gigantic group of people who don’t care about your small business.
  • Make sure your website can manage the traffic - If you plan to use any of the social media platforms for advertising, make sure your website is ready to convert that traffic into paying customers.

Robots, machine learning and automating everything - oh my!

Let’s discuss: It’s true. Machines are getting smarter and smarter and soon we won’t have to lift a finger! And unless you’re still using pen and paper or the ol’ noggin to manage your business, you’re already using technology to help your business run smoothly. It’s immensely helpful, organized and efficient! The beauty is that both business owner and the customers benefit from the use of technology in business processes.

All reports point to this trend continuing to climb at a steady pace.

Now, let’s play devil’s advocate for a moment. Given that technology has taken over so many aspects of your business, human touch points are scarce and therefore have more value than ever before. There’s never been a more important time to safeguard human touchpoints with your customers.

Creating human contact points will help you maintain personal relationships and loyalty among your customers.

Here’s an example from our business: At NiceJob, our Customer Success team uses Intercom to communicate with our customers. Although Intercom is a highly automated tool, it has allowed us to have a personal connection with our customers.

If you do want to utilize technology to automate business processes in 2020, consider this:

  • Where do you start? Detect repeated patterns in your workflow: If you can determine the work processes that get repeated over and over again, this is a good place to see if it can be automated instead.
  • Consider if your competition had the software or machinery (and you did not): In many instances it’s software that will help automate a process in your business. And although software costs a pretty penny, consider what the implications would be if your competition adopted the software and you did not? This theory applies to machines as well. What if your competition invested in software or autonomous robots to get the job done - will you be outcompeted?
  • Show your face to customers, and automate the backend: Most customer-facing aspects of your business should not be automated. Like we mentioned, it’s important to protect these human touch points. Instead, consider the backend processes of your business to implement automation. This will free up your time to spend with customers.

The profession of “coaching” is on the rise

Let’s discuss: Getting a coach or mentor for your business is a good idea, especially if you are seeking feedback, advice and/or help setting your business on a path to growth and success.

There are even different kinds of coaches to help with your specific business needs: sales and marketing specific, female or mom focused business coaches, coaches to help overcome roadblocks, or combination business and life coaches.

The truth is that this can be the best investment you make for your business — IF and only if you find a reputable coach.

And as it stands, the coaching industry is not regulated. This means anyone can call themselves a coach.

(As you’ve probably noticed, every other person with a business Instagram account calls themselves a coach.)

With this profession becoming more popular, we will likely start to see regulating bodies spring up to enforce standards and credentials.

But until that time, if you intend to hire a business coach for 2020, how do you choose someone you can trust with the ins and outs of your business (and life)?

  • Be prepared. Before you make any decisions about a coach, have a clear set of goals in mind for your business. If you have a destination, your coach should be able to help you get there.
  • Reputation is key. If you are going to hire a business coach, do your homework and if possible get a referral from someone you trust.
  • Be active in discussion groups or forums and look for opportunities for professional meetups and networking opportunities.

The 4-day work week

Let’s discuss: The standard 40-hour work week was legalized in the US in the 1940s, and it typically follows the 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday structure. (Fun fact: the 40 hour work week was popularized by Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company after he found that working more than 40 hours a week yielded little more productive work.)

In fact, there have been many studies conducted on working more than 40 hours a week, which results in negative impacts on a person’s health and well-being, and does not lead to more productive hours worked:

“In 16 of 22 studies addressing general health effects, overtime was associated with poorer perceived general health, increased injury rates, more illnesses, or increased mortality.”

Yikes!

With that in mind, now we’re starting to see a 4-day work week jump in popularity. This means employees will work longer hours during those 4 days in lieu of the 5th work day. For example, working hours may be 8:30am - 6:30pm. Unless it’s stated that the 4-day work week is 32 hours (instead of squeezing 40 hours into 4 days).

But, why do this? Well, companies like Microsoft tested the 4-day work week in Japan and noticed a 40% boost in workplace productivity. The test was initiated as part of a "Work-Life Choice Challenge," to study employee work-life balance which is the strongest reason to implement a shortened workweek system.

The drawbacks of the 4-day work week can include irregular employee schedules, and potential employee exhaustion given the 10-hour work days. You should also consider that the 4-day workweek, although gaining momentum, isn’t standard practice yet. This means your business hours may conflict with others’.

For now, a happy medium may be flex hours. Instead of dropping down to a 4-day workweek, you can improve employee work-life balance by allowing flex hours or simply greater control over their own schedules. This will allow you to keep business rolling and retain top talent - the best of both worlds!  

As you navigate through the trend reports for 2020, weigh the options for your small business and do what’s best for you. After discussing the merits of 4 major trends: TikTok and social media, technology and automation, hiring a business coach, and the 4-day workweek - we hope you have a clearer idea of how to move forward. We wish you nothing but success for the New Year!!

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