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written by
Max White

What to look out for in 2017

Girl looking through telescope

If we’ve learned anything in 2016, it’s to expect the unexpected. From the passing of David Bowie to Brexit and Trump, there's been plenty to scratch our heads about looking back on the last year.

Nonetheless, now that we’re midway through December it’s important to look forward and try to predict what could be in store for small businesses in 2017.

Our experience of working with UK small businesses puts us in a unique position to forecast what lies ahead. So, to help independent businesses get ahead of the curve, here are the biggest things to watch out for in the coming year.

Video

In an online world where attention is increasingly harder to grab, video is your best chance of cutting through the noise in 2017.

Studies show that over half of consumers (55%) will watch the full length of a video, whereas just 29% of people admit reading blogs from beginning to end. 

You don’t need to make big budget productions; a simple smartphone video will do. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all have simple to use video tools which let even the most technophobic business owner promote their brand quickly and effectively. 

So why not spend the next few months establishing which platform(s) work best for you by posting a video a day? It’s the fastest way to build an engaged online audience.

Crowdfunding

Especially important for those small businesses just starting out, crowdfunding is a type of peer-to-peer lending that helps businesses raise money from online investors.

The crowdfunding market in the UK has grown from £1.7bn of loans, investments and donations in 2014 to £3.2bn in 2015.

By attaining funding this way you conduct prototype testing too. Because in order to get the funding your business wants, there needs to be enough investors out there who believe in your product and are willing to take a punt on it.

It's true that many remain sceptical about security and returns on investment. But regulators are stepping in in the new year to impose rules on vendors and investors which will help the market mature and prosper.

Personalisation

In 2017 we'll all be talking about ‘personalisation’ instead of customer service.

What we mean by personalisation, is tailored service. Greeting customers by name in-store, offering them the coffee they order before they’ve even asked for it or responding to customers directly on social media. Things like that. Anything that makes the customer feel valued.

At the moment 90% of companies say that they use or want to use personalisation, but only 20% actually are.

And it makes sense, because when you're a business owner it's not easy to give all of your customers the care and attention you'd like to. You might be a small business, but your customer base is probably disproportionately large. 

Think about any personal touches you can add – big or small – because it's memorable experiences that will keep customers coming back in 2017.

Keeping you up to speed

Unless our crystal ball has deceived us, you can rest assured that these things will play important roles for small businesses next year. 

For tips and advice throughout the year, go to the Growing Your Business area of the Biz Hub.

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