Being an entrepreneur or business owner today has proven extremely challenging. As we enter the new year, we have many variables to consider. Fortunately, every new year presents an opportunity to position ourselves for success, provided we make ourselves aware of the forecasted trends.
As we enter the new year, let's look at five prevailing trends affecting entrepreneurs and business owners. We'll discuss how to use this information to shield yourself from uncertainty while maximizing your efforts.
1. Technology will continue to grow
Technology and digitalization may be the only factors not influenced by geopolitics. Indeed, innovation has never occurred at a more blistering pace than it has through the early 2020s. In 2023, experts predict AI (artificial intelligence) and VR (virtual reality) will continue to grow and expand into new sectors and industries.
Early adopters can enjoy new, time-saving, and money-saving benefits. In other cases, they will find they've put the cart before the horse and will need to wait for their customers to catch up. Whatever your industry, it's critical that you stay on top tech news and watch for products that have the potential to benefit (or hurt) your bottom line.
2. Sustainability will take a front seat
It only took one summer of high gas prices to completely change how the world feels about electric cars. Now, green and sustainable technology is trending more than ever. In August, a new study revealed that 66% of U.S. consumers would be willing to pay more for sustainable products.
And while many business owners feel this trend only applies to energy or high-polluting industries, this couldn't be further from the truth. Modern consumers are interested in green and ethical sourcing at all levels of the supply chain. From how factories are powered to the treatment of labor to how the final products are packaged, every step in the process could be a potential marketing goldmine (or a PR nightmare).
3. Employee/employer relationships will continue to change
Few things in the post-pandemic world changed as dramatically as work. And while corporate leaders see this shift as a major threat to their productivity, smaller enterprises may be able to capitalize on new employment trends. For instance, by offering remote or hybrid work options, you can instantly make yourself more attractive to potential employees. Many of these might accept less pay in exchange for more freedom. Sometimes, you save thousands by doing away with your office space.
Of course, only some businesses lend themselves to remote work. That's where you should refer back to #1 on this list. Technology is moving so quickly that it could effectively replace many paid positions within the next 12 months. Couple this with the growing viability of third-party manufacturing, and you suddenly have many new avenues to expand or cut costs.
4. Customers will demand better experiences
Deloitte recently published a great article on the true value of the customer experience. It highlights how much has changed regarding what customers look for in a business, product, or service. Indeed, while price point and quality are still very important, modern consumers tend to identify with the brands they use in the same way they might identify with a friend or significant other. For this reason, they crave experiences that bring them and their brand "closer together."
This can be as simple as including personalized or exclusive items with your products or streamlining the buying experience. Whatever the case, the goal is to make your customers feel special, boosting loyalty and encouraging them to promote your brand to others. Of course, technology will also play a pivotal role in this process. From recommendation engines and automated after-sales support to 3D dressing room experiences, the more you can offer your customers, the better.
5. Everything will be affected by economic factors
The world entered 2023 with a war in Ukraine, an energy crisis in Europe, and record inflation nearly everywhere else. While these might seem like problems "for the big guys," every single business will be affected by these factors in the coming year. Whether it comes from late supply shipments, increased fuel costs, or overpriced products, we're all likely to feel some economic pinch.
Without a crystal ball, the only real solution to this problem is for business owners to map out their entire supply chain and identify any parts that might be at risk. Where is your manufacturing done? Who handles your shipping? Are any of the materials in your products susceptible to supply chain problems? If your business is more service-oriented, will it be affected by inflation, energy prices, or demand decay? The more you know now, the better you can be prepared later.
Every new year presents new challenges for entrepreneurs and business owners. But in the end, that's all they are! With a little preparation and a commitment to staying on top of industry news, you can put yourself in a position to weather any storm. More importantly, you can take advantage of opportunities you might not have considered in the "old days" of 2022.
Image Credit: Getty Images
Membership is open to businesses and organizations interested in increasing visibility and brand awareness in Westchester County and surrounding areas.