InBusiness by Jody Glynn Patrick
We’ve reported, in the pages of In Business magazine, stories of business best practices and trends, and from that collection of stories, and national business news and research study results, here’s a quick glance at five trends we’re seeing come to fruition in 2012.
1.It’s the perfect storm for baby boomer business owners to lose their retirement egg, if they counted on selling their business to fund it. Owners of small- to mid-sized businesses with or without a succession plan this year may find their best opportunity is a business rollup versus sale to another entrepreneur or key employee. Overall, company valuations are at an all-time low, more upfront capital is required for financial transactions, and bank funding is guarded. The owner may recognize the most gain by absorption into a larger, similar or complimentary business rather than an independent sale.
2. You’ve heard “go mobile” but how does that jive with a “buy local” campaign? Optimizing your visibility on search engines is your challenge this year. While consumers still prefer to shop within a 20-mile radius, the sales of 50 million smartphones changes how America determines which vendor to choose in that radius. Search optimization has never been more important (and did you know that membership in groups like the BBB, if you use their dynamic link logo, moves you up on the search roster?).
3. A related point: Retailers are reporting best success with web coupons sent to email lists which allow the shopper to create their own sale: coupons for 30%-40% off one regularly priced item pull the most response, and those easily redeemed with smart phones work best for impulsive stops. The best news is that the majority of shoppers will buy more than the sales item after making the commitment to visit a brick-and-mortar store.
4. Cloud computing (your files are stored online by a third party and accessible, by password, from any computer anywhere) is becoming a mainstream business practice. The risk of losing files is lower, and security is usually higher. The cost is high for entry per user, but reasonable given continual software updates, and it promotes 24/7 connectivity from anywhere. If you aren’t using a cloud software hosting system yet, you likely will be within the next year.
5. With technological advancements and template subscription services, I’d predict that almost every small business owner should be able to afford and manage their own websites by the end of 2012. More challenging is this fact: with 100 million people watching videos online every day, guess what’s going to be the next “must have” for a website? Web video production businesses will be the next boom, and I’d expect costs to fall from the $2,000 – $4,000 average now (for a professional 30/60-second film) to closer to $1,000 or less due to competition and better do-it-yourself video cameras.