Now we’re three months into the year, how many of these predictions look accurate to you?
1. Alternative finance
Business owners stand to benefit substantially from the rise of alternative finance over the coming months.
Credit cards, overdrafts and loans are no longer the only ways to finance business growth. Crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, equity funding, supply chain finance and invoice discounting are all worth investigating and pursuing.
2. The sharing economy
These business models allow customers to share products rather than buy them outright. Their rise is encouraging for smaller companies, because they can attract customers who can’t manage to buy their products outright.
3. Mobile money
Mobile money is on the rise. New payment technologies are making it easy to handle your finances on the go.
You can now create and manage invoices and take credit card payments on your smart phone.
4. Big data
2014 is the year ‘big data’ stops being a buzzword and starts being something smaller companies can really use.
Improving analytics technology is giving businesses the opportunity to drive growth through data. Learn more details about your most valuable customers. Understand your finances more intimately. Make strategic decisions that are driven by data more than by gut feeling.
5. Clever communications
In 2014, consumers expect personalisation. Big companies understand that we have entered the age of clever comms, and are big data and analytics to offer highly personalised products to their target audience.
Smaller businesses must follow this lead. Bombarding your market with poorly directed emails just doesn’t cut it anymore (although you could argue that it never did).
6. Collaboration and co-creation
Some of the most exciting tech-start ups are pioneering what looks set to become a major feature of business in 2014: collaboration and co-creation.
They’ve realised that by working side-by-side, separate businesses have a greater chance of sparking new ideas for innovation and growth.
7. Changing retail spaces
If you’re in retail, the rise and rise of price comparison apps means it’s really important that people entering your shop have an unforgettable experience.
That space is yours alone. It’s the ideal platform to showcase your brand’s identity, so you should make the most of it.
8. Social listening and trend-watching
Social media is everywhere, but social listening and trend watching are becoming increasingly important in directing product development.
If you are selective and intelligent with the social channels you employ, they can help you work out exactly what your customers want.
9. Austerity pricing
Britain is no longer in recession, but people are still mindful of their wallets. Pricing strategies that appeal to austerity Britain will remain popular.
Just look at the recent successes of companies like Pizza Express, who offer clever discounts through voucher websites such as Groupon.
No, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword. A company’s carbon footprint and its desire to give back to the local community are increasingly important in consumer decision-making.
Practicing responsible, ethical business can benefit both society and your profit margins.
This post was written by Piers Barber, a business writer for Sage Business Software who has an interest in the growth of mobile technology and business.