Six years ago this month, I launched SucceedingInSmallBusiness.com. With help from co-bloggers Laurie Breitner and Karen Utgoff in my first few years and with steadfast support in the last several years from Mark Auerbach and Michelle van Schouwen, I’ve tried to help small business owners and solopreneurs become learn how to achieve long-term success. Part of this mission has included keeping you informed of trends that affect your business.
Here are four important changes that have occurred between when this blog started in 2010 and today’s small business environment:
-You have to compete for employees. Back in 2010, we were in the midst of a devastating recession. The nationwide unemployment throughout 2010 stayed above 9%, and in many states it hit double digits. This meant that if you were among those lucky few businesses that actually had a job opening, people would line up around the block for a chance at it. You had your pick of candidates, and salary negotiations were simple since you had all the leverage.
Flash forward to 2016 and national unemployment rate is about 5% (and even lower in some states). This makes it a whole different ballgame when it’s time to fill a vacancy or increase staff size. Now you’ll have to compete to get the best people, and that will mean more than just offering an attractive salary. “How to Compete for Good Candidates in a Tight Labor Market” has advice on how to effectively recruit the right people for your business when the labor market is this competitive.
-There’s an app for that. Yes, smart phones existed in 2010, but not everyone had one and there weren’t a gazillion apps available to help you do absolutely everything. Now apps can help you handle important aspects of your business. Equally important, apps can help you provide your customers with information and services that will build customer loyalty. And, you can build custom apps for amazingly small amounts of money. In “Here’s Why Your Business Needs Its Own Mobile App,” from Forbes, you will learn that custom apps provide numerous benefits and are no longer just for big-name businesses. (Be sure to also check out the link in the first paragraph that goes to an article that tells you how to build an app in 12 steps.)
-You can no longer ignore social media. Six years ago if you hadn’t yet using social media into your marketing mix, it was not yet a big deal. Now it is. You can no longer hope that Facebook will just go away if you ignore it long enough. It’s clear that isn’t going to happen, and while Twitter’s business model is shaky, it is still managing to drive the conversation as even the most legitimate news sources now routinely quote what newsmakers are tweeting.
For anyone who is lagging behind regarding social media marketing, back in March I shared an excerpt from The Baby Boomer’s Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing. Even if you aren’t a boomer, this book will help you learn what you need to know with easy-to-understand advice that even the most tech-averse person can understand.
-Millennials want things to work differently when they’re at work. Thanks to co-blogger Michelle van Schouwen for suggesting this one. As she pointed out to me, more than ever, the rise of the millennials is forcing business owners to re-evaluate old ways of doing business. Can employees work from home? Manage their time more flexibly? Wear jeans to the office? Have their cell phones with them at all times, and their social media feeds live? These are just a few of the questions that arrive in the workplace along with millennials. Bentley University has been doing research on this topic and have come up with some very interesting findings about how this population segment is changing how we work…there therefore how your business works.
These first six years flew right by, as I’m sure the next six will, too. Thanks to my co-bloggers and guest posters, and, most of all, thanks to our readers. I hope you have found SucceedingInSmallBusiness.com helpful in running your small business and that you will keep coming back.