Businesses are emerging from the global health crisis with a new outlook on life. Adaptation and commitment are more important traits than ever before and with businesses now looking to the future again, entrepreneurs are seeking ways to make their companies stronger than ever before. Here are five key strategies for scaling up your business in the coming year.
1. Capitalize on Automated Tools
The impact of automation on the business world can't be overstated. From business forecast modeling software to entirely digital customer service robots that can emulate personality, the future of business process automation is now. This advancement has been driven in large part by relentless progress in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. Be prepared to hear more about artificial neural network (ANN) systems and their supporting technologies such as neural network chips over the coming years.
2. Value People Skills in Sales Teams
It might seem counterintuitive given the modern emphasis on using digital tools in sales, but "soft skills" like communication and empathy are more important than ever before. In spite of those AI advancements, 86% of customers still prefer a live operator to chatbots because sometimes only a human touch can get a message through. The good news is that these skills are teachable. The bad news is that not enough companies place an initial value on them during the hiring process. A willingness to listen is rarely valued as much as years of experience among new hires, but it should be. It's also worth noting that bringing toxic individuals into the workplace simply because they can do a good hard sell is a recipe for counterproductive friction down the line. In other words, sensitivity is an investment.
3. Keep Remote Work as an Option
Not too long ago, business owners were cold to the idea of their employees working from home. It was thought that doing business from a home office would result in rampant laziness and security problems. Neither of these things is necessarily true. In fact, a recent study by Stanford University discovered that remote workers were, on average, 14% more productive than their office-bound counterparts. In addition, the network vulnerabilities are being managed via a switch in cyber defense protocols towards standardization of endpoint security. What began in 2020 as a necessity has proven to be a best practice after all.
4. Focus on Social Media Marketing
The marketing campaigns of the future will be done almost entirely online. This is because that's where the customers are. In 2020, the number of people using social media worldwide numbered around 3.6 billion. That wasn't a pandemic blip; the number is projected to rise to 4.41 billion by 2024. Part of this is due to diversification; social media outlets are becoming more niche-specific and focused on giving more people a voice. YouTube and TikTok in particular are great vehicles for influencers to have a chance to emerge and for companies in their industry to partner with them and effect mutual growth. Keeping a finger on the pulse of those subcultures and tapping into their desires is the key to cornering your share of the market and gaining loyal customers.
5. Stay Authentic
We live in a time of fleeting trends and shallow commitments. Being a rebel against that way of thinking will set your company apart from the crowd. It's very telling that the most effective form of advertising in our digital age continues to be word-of-mouth, with 92% of consumers trusting friends and family over flashy advertisements. Put your focus on the quality of your offerings and responsiveness to the public. Don't just showcase what your product is, demonstrate how it can make customers' lives better. If your business makes their world more convenient instead of less in uncertain times, that's a surefire way to get repeat customers.
Organizations only thrive when they're in a constant process of evolution and growth. By keeping an eye on these formative trends, you can keep your business thriving into the next year and beyond.