The end of 2019 marks the start of a new decade as entrepreneurs across the world wade further into uncharted waters. We are entering into a new era of digital transformation as companies are constantly searching for ways to enhance their operations and optimize products through emerging technologies. But which of these trends are just buzzwords, and what do entrepreneurs and small businesses need to know to get ahead in the year ahead?
Rise of the Gig Economy
By 2025, the gig economy is expected to be worth $335 billion. This upward trajectory is offering major advantages to both small businesses and people looking to diversify their income sources. One of the biggest downsides to early-stage companies is a lack of resources, both capital and staff. Luckily, with so many options out there, you don’t have to know how to do everything. With platforms like Fiverr, entrepreneurs can find cost-effective solutions for everything from website development to SEO and digital marketing. The rise of freelance workers has removed many barriers to entrepreneurship making it easier for companies to bring a concept to market. There is less risk and many new platforms have made it more seamless than ever to connect new companies with gig workers looking to lend their expertise.
More “solopreneurs” are looking to bring in outside assistance as their company may just be a one-person shop. Call forwarding is a great example of ways small businesses can enhance their services while taking a lot of friction out of the equation. Entrepreneurs can make sure they are able to answer all of their leads without having to add more full-time staff. This skips over many time-consuming HR tasks like payroll, benefits and managing people. It is the in-sourcing talent solution for your organization that saves an entrepreneur’s two of the most fruitful assets: time and money.
Sustaining Remote Workforces
Another growing trend is many companies are moving to remote workforces. But how can they ensure that this process is sustainable and reduces churn/cut down on inefficiencies? Firstly, security should be a chief concern. A secure VPN is a great way to ensure all employees, regardless of location, are working safely. Another issue is employee engagement, assuring that staff is hitting performance marks and working cohesively despite gaps in locations.
What we have seen is that many remote employees’ performance exceeds on-site staff. There are fewer distractions and many employees are grateful for the freedom to work from home which is reflective in performance. We see less turnover, and offering more flexibility is a major selling point for team members. With more collaborative workplace tools available, remote employees can still feel connected. At VoiceNation, our goal is to have around 75% of our staff remote in the near future due to the immense success we have seen with the program thus far.
Arrival of 5G
The onset of widespread 5G networks will expedite the shift to mobile technology. Desk phones and landlines are essentially obsolete. Very few small businesses still use a traditional landline as it tends to be cost-effective and easier to go straight to mobile. Call forwarding solutions can support this shift to allow on-the-go users access to tools, so they’ll never miss a call. Faster internet speeds and lower latencies will lend to even further mobile usage. Your business will be in your pocket as most operations are already (or soon to be) mobile compatible if not developed for mobile.
Demand for Real-Time CX
We are seeing a large increase in the need for real-time customer experiences. So much so, that the on-demand economy will increase 18.5% annually over the next five years. Consumers want instant gratification and have less patience to wait for goods and services. This has led to the creation of innovative solutions to meet the demands of these consumers such as Uber or DoorDash. The need for immediate responses can be a detriment for many small businesses that lack the resources to be everywhere at once.
Luckily, tools are available to counter this problem and give entrepreneurs what they need to give their customers the experiences they desire. Customers could be calling at two in the morning, but that is just the shift we are seeing with today’s 24/7/365 business culture. Businesses need to be able to match these consumer expectations, regardless of the size of their company.
The year ahead can make some entrepreneurs nervous. But looking at the bigger picture, it is clear that technology is driving industries in a fashion that benefits the underdog. There are so many tools out there to give SMBs the leg up they need in the marketplace and to help expand their business. Starting a company today compared to 2010 has changed significantly and the level of access to tools/resources has empowered the entrepreneur much further. Small businesses no longer have to take on the world alone and the integration of viable technologies with SMB operations will only help to fuel early-stage companies in 2020 and beyond.
Eric Schurke is the VP of Operations at VoiceNation. Eric is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company. He joined VoiceNation in 2003, and has been a key driver behind VoiceNation’s growth and success by incorporating lean operational practices and creating a strong company culture. His experience and leadership have been focused on driving great customer experiences in the high-touch call center industry, providing outstanding client service, and driving profitable revenue growth.