Investor, Founder & CEO. MIT graduate. Co-Founder of Mesmerise VR, Marsfields, ARQ and Repeat.
Futureproofing is at the forefront of every entrepreneur’s mind. But putting ideas into practice can be a different challenge altogether.
As we enter the next decade of small business ownership, there’s plenty of food for thought. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality continue to become more practical with each passing month, while machine learning is fast becoming capable of providing fully personalised experiences for customers online in just about any industry.
So as we fast approach 2020, what key factors will entrepreneurs have to take into account as they look to adapt to a brand new decade of management. Let’s take a look at six of the most significant challenges to look out for:
The Bitcoin craze gave us an early warning that finance is ripe for a little bit of innovation, and while this particular cryptocurrency might not have extended far beyond the realms of speculation, there are plenty more alternative currencies on the way with the power to disrupt our operations.
Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency has plenty of promise, though its release hasn’t proven to be the most seamless, and the genre of ‘stablecoin’ looks set to pave the way for more consumers to buy goods using crypto-assets.
(Facebook’s Libra stablecoin could start a trend of customers using alternative currencies. Image: BGR)
Essentially, a stablecoin is a cryptocurrency that’s tied to tangible goods like the US Dollar and gold and has the potential to bring practicality to the volatile world of the crypto markets.
Will the consumers of 2027 be using Libra to buy their morning coffee everyday? Possibly, but it’s highly likely that there will be widespread adoption of one form of stablecoin over the coming years, and it’s vital that business owners are prepared for these significant developments.
Artificial intelligence has become increasingly prevalent in society today, and business owners who aren’t ready to embrace this form of automation risk losing ground to competitors in terms of providing tentative customer service.
In the coming decade, chatbots and virtual assistants alike will become increasingly intuitive and more capable than ever of providing a swift and productive user experience.
Consumers will become increasingly aware of how well the businesses they use cater towards delivering better levels of convenience, and the emphasis will be on owners to invest wisely in keeping up with the emerging technologies within this field.
Fortunately, while the adoption of AI may be a costly adaption to make in the short term, its ability to deliver a strong level of customer support around the clock in lieu of a human member of staff means that it could leverage savings elsewhere.
Data is serious business in the age of GDPR. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers surrounding misuse of their personal information, and the next decade will see a backlash against organisations that are perceived to be using private information in misleading ways. This trend can be seen in the string of US states that followed in the footsteps of EU regulation in tightening breach notification statutes to regulations governing how businesses can use and sell student data.
While acquiring consumer data from third-party sources can seriously help your marketing strategies, many entrepreneurs will shy away from this approach due to the already increasing pressure on companies to ask for consent. According to Entrepreneur, 71% of purchased data is inaccurate, anyway.
Brand power has never been more important than today, and with the ease in which information can be passed across borders worldwide, it’s certainly a good idea to keep your business away from any damning indictments regarding breaches of privacy. Be sure to gather consumer data in a slightly more organic way, through offering rewards for participating in surveys, interactive content and filling out more information during the checkout process.
According to Epsilon, we’re fully embedded in a society that responds well to personalised experiences. Businesses respective attempts to offer personalisation can take plenty of forms, but it appears that the most popular forms of personalisation today are based on things like location-based coupons, communications via the customer’s preferred channel, and recommendations themed around previous purchases.
Entrepreneur reports that companies like Dunkin’ Donuts in the US have already begun to reap the rewards of effective personalisation techniques. The brand managed to achieve a 3.6% redemption rate for a smartphone-based coupon campaign that was angled towards the customers of a competitor in Rhode Island. Even better was that even more people took secondary actions in doing things like mentioning the campaign on social media.
AI is all-encompassing and certainly spills into the realm of personalised services. Here, personal chatbots can offer users an enjoyable experience without the need for communicating on the telephone or face-to-face.
As technology continues to develop, the accessibility of subscription-based services continues to grow. Many moons ago, if you wanted to watch a movie on Netflix, it would involve receiving a DVD in the mail. Today, subscribers are treated to thousands of hours worth of content in a matter of clicks - and what’s more is that movies and TV shows can be viewed on a range of devices.
These factors make subscription-based solutions much more appealing to consumers, and it could be worth exploring whether your business can provide an easy to join subscription service for prospective customers.
Regardless of your industry, there’s likely a niche market for your business to enter as a subscription-based service. In fact, businesses running subscriptions grew 5.5 times quicker than their S&P counterparts - an impressive figure that’s aided by the fact that subscribers place three-times more orders than with companies that don’t run subscription services.
(The number of jobs currently held by gig economy workers in the U.S. in 2018. Image: Statista)
The next decade will undoubtedly see the gig economy continue to grow at a rapid rate. We have advancing technology to thank for this trend, and how it’s played a pivotal role in bringing instant collaboration and sharable documents to users on the go.
While it can definitely help to have employees positioned in-office, the beauty of the gig economy is that there’s a wide pool of skilled individuals positioned all over the world who are in a position to perform tasks, complete work or provide advice at a generous rate thanks to the convenience of never having to leave the house.
It’s inevitable that more entrepreneurs will look to the gig economy as time passes and they attempt to scale effectively. Be sure to take a moment to consider if your next specialist task would be best completed by a skilled remote worker - ultimately, embracing this form of recruitment could save you time and money.