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Business Rewired: preparing for the trends set to shape small business

Posted 6 months ago in Small business by Hannah Collett
Posted by Hannah Collett

It’s a turbulent time for Britain’s small businesses. There’s ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, an election just around the corner and mounting environmental pressure. And we know that almost half (46%) of UK SME owners are concerned about the future. 

It’s not all doom and gloom. The small business world is evolving rapidly with some exciting opportunities. To help business owners prepare for what’s coming, we’ve worked with leading futurologist Gerd Leonhard and best-selling author Emma Gannon. 

They’ve explored the trends set to shape the future of small business over the next decade. These include things like being more socially-conscious, relying less on email, or hiring staff with multiple jobs. Our Business Rewired report helps business owners look over the horizon. 

These trends represent a huge opportunity for those ready to embrace them. We’ve pulled out a sneak peek of six trends here along with some advice on how you can start to incorporate them today:

1) The end of routine: Over the next decade there will be an acceleration in the adoption of AI to automate process-driven tasks, forcing businesses to alter their hiring strategies and transforming work life balance. 

Tip: explore common small business user cases of IFTTT and Zapier to identify tracking and monitoring related process driven business tasks that can be automated. 

2) Finding Purpose: Over the next decade small businesses will increasingly become focused on purpose-driven work as they seek to find meaning and truly make a difference. 

Tip: implement benefits within your business that either enable your employees to take time off for volunteering opportunities, or bring these opportunities into your business for employees to experience at work.

3) Connected Everything: Investment in 5G and the rollout of ubiquitous high speed internet access will enable a global internet population to seamlessly communicate and interact with one another.

Tip: check eligibility to see whether your company qualifies for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which allows businesses to claim up to £2,500 against the cost of full fibre broadband.

4) Blended workforce: The gig economy will continue to challenge the concept of a ‘job for life’, or simply having just one job at a time. Small businesses will be able to take advantage of this fast-growing flexible workforce and scale their workforce to meet their needs. 

Tip: consider outsourcing expertise for general project work to platforms such as UpWork and Freelancer, or to specialist sites such as Dribbble (for design and creative work) or Lexoo (legal requirements).

5) Late payments: End-to-end digital transactions, and a change in the number of companies individuals work for, will require the setup of a new type of payroll with the need for people to be paid faster than the usual 30-day invoice terms.

Tip: incorporate technology to automatically chase invoices (Chaser) and sign up clients to direct debit providers (GoCardless) to manage and solve late payments.

6) Work/life balance: the concept of a four-day working week is not a million miles away. But there could be a future in which we work even less – possibly cutting working hours by half. 

Tip: allowing staff to work from home one day a week will allow team members the flexibility they might need in order to get their work done and is a good way of trialing full time remote working.

You can read the full report and trends here

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