Evolving business technologies will continue to help small businesses enhance productivity, increase efficiencies and do more with less in the coming year. If you haven’t done so already, consider jumping on these four trends in 2018.
1. Working Collaboratively in the Cloud
SMBs will spend about a quarter of their IT budgets on hosted and cloud-based services in 2018, according to a recent Spiceworks report. In addition to popular platforms like Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s G Suite, collaboration tools like Slack, for instant messaging and file sharing; Trello, for visual collaboration; and Homebase, for employee scheduling, have value even for companies with small staffs.
“Cloud collaboration has become increasingly important as small businesses embrace remote work.”
Cloud collaboration has become increasingly important as small businesses embrace remote work for both employees and contractors. These tools enable everyone to use the same file at once on any device, wherever they are. A small business can also create its own private social network to communicate about projects, share files and hold videoconferences.
2. Outsourcing in the Gig Economy
A recent report from SCORE found small businesses have increased their hiring of short-term workers by 37% over the past six months. Most were doing so to gain specialized experience or meet temporary needs. The top business functions being outsourced were technology, accounting and marketing, but small businesses can also find clerical workers, research assistants, graphic designers, writers and even salespeople. Web platforms such as Upwork and Elance now offer the ability to easily outsource tasks and projects.
3. More Digital Marketing
The 2017 Small Business Digital Marketing Survey found nearly half of small businesses were planning to invest more in marketing and advertising, with increased spending across the board in social media, websites, SEO, content marketing, mobile apps, email marketing and video.
Short, 20-second videos are a highly effective tool for small businesses to market themselves, says Melinda Emerson, president of SmallBizLady Enterprises in Philadelphia. “They are converting more than anything else nowadays,” she says.
New technologies have made video production easier than ever. A smart phone and apps such as Magisto, iMovie or Adobe Premiere Clip provide platforms to easily produce and upload quality videos to YouTube or LinkedIn.
4. A Greater Focus on Security
Cybersecurity will continue to be a critical issue for many small businesses in 2018. Small businesses are the victims of 43% of all “phishing” (fraudulent email) campaigns, according to a recent report by Symantec, and about 1 in 40 small businesses is at risk of being a cybercrime target.
Despite these numbers, half of small business owners said they were not concerned about data breaches, according to a 2017 Microsoft survey, and a quarter said they were doing nothing to protect themselves. Of those who are taking self-protective measures, 70% said they prefer to pay for cybersecurity support, such as that offered in the Spectrum Internet Security Solution, rather than attempt to do it themselves.
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers 10 best practices for cybersecurity, including installing antivirus software and using firewalls and encryption. Many cloud-based software products now offer easy-to-install security solutions.
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