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9 Small Business Trends to Expect in 2020

The last decade brought major changes to small businesses everywhere. As we look to 2020, here are some trends that could influence your business in the coming months and tactics to prepare for them.


1. Freelancing is the New Normal

The “gig economy” is booming. Gig economy refers to a labor market of freelance work or short-term jobs. According to Gallup, 57 million US workers participate in the gig economy. That’s over 36%! And by 2023, MBO Partners estimates that number will be over 50%.

For a number of job functions, freelancers now occupy a solid space in the job market. Freelancers appreciate the flexible schedule and work/life balance afforded by independent work but often have to sacrifice stability, consistent income, and benefits. The average freelancer earns less than a typical full-time worker by 58%, but they also work shorter weeks (25 hours vs. 40) according to Prudential.

This trend isn’t going anywhere. Consider if your business could benefit from outsourcing any of your design work, content creation, or technology related jobs to an independent contractor.

2. Values-Driven, Sustainable Companies Will Thrive

Sustainability went from being a novelty to a necessity in the last decade. Customers are increasingly looking to purchase from businesses with value systems aligned with their own. Sustainability is now a requirement, not a marketing tool.

3. The introduction of Gen Z and global awareness

If you’re still trying to wrap your head around how to manage millenials – you’ve got another thing coming. We watched Millennials emerge as a dominant voice in the market over the last decade. Now we’ll see Gen Z continue to develop. This is a digitally native, information focused generation that expects connectivity and rapid responses.  

As Inc.com explains, 2020 is the year more than 24.4% of the global workforce will belong to Gen-Z. For the health of your company and your workforce, these generational shifts can’t be ignored. If your company dynamic is suffering – this is one area to take a good hard look. 


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4. Diversity in leadership is on the rise

The economy will continue to see record numbers of women, people of color, veterans, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities entering the workforce in management positions and as business owners. Just like adjusting your work environment to get the most out of a multi-generational workforce, similar adjustments and considerations need to be made for a workforce that grows more diverse every day. 

In fact, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon told CNBC that, starting in 2020 his company would refuse to help companies go public unless they have at least one diverse board candidate. In this announcement, he noted that of the companies that went public this year – those with more diverse boards performed better. Proof that diversity in your team contributes to a diversity in perspective that translates to better financial returns.

5. Business operations will continue to get easier

Workplaces are focusing on making the act of doing business easier. Companies will keep moving to cloud-based solutions to allow telecommuting and working remotely. Services will consolidate and single platform solutions will dominate. Apps will continue to make tasks easier and more efficient.

6. Customers Will Push For Localism

The market is localizing. Customers want to buy from local sources. Patrons are giving increased support to their local economies.

Think about this as it relates to your small business and implement changes to highlight the ways in which your business contributes and engages with your local community. 

7. Mobile apps continue their importance

Customers are increasingly transacting online and through mobile apps. It is easier than ever for businesses to create an app and capture sales. Consider making this shift if it’s feasible for your small business.

8. Data security is more important than ever before

With data breaches happening at an increased rate, small businesses will continue to focus on the security of their customer data. Work with experts to ensure you’re on track.

While it will never replace the expertise of a seasoned data security expert, a fast and lightweight method to protect some of your data is by using modern tools, such as haveibeenpwned.com  (HIPB)

Developed by some of the brightest minds at Microsoft, HIPB will safely retain your email address and consistently cross-reference it against the billions of email addresses reported in ongoing data breaches – giving you advance notice if one of your accounts has been compromised. 

9. The 2020 election will distract the marketplace

As we approach the presidential election this fall, small business owners across the country look on with apprehension and hopefulness. Regardless of which candidate wins, businesses will be impacted by changes due to a new administration or the evolving priorities of the incumbent.

Small businesses will see uncertainty in their finances, HR, technology, manufacturing, and more. But they will participate in the democratic process. According to the National Small Business Association, small business owners participate in elections far more than the average voter, with 93% of small business owners voting compared to average voter turnout of 58%. Good work to you, small business owners!

In addition to understanding that the 2020 election will give the market severe tunnel vision, here are a few other things to think about.


How to prepare for and adapt to these trends

Get ahead of the tightening of consumer spending

With an election on the horizon, history tells us that consumer spending will likely tighten up. In the lead-up to a major political event, we see increased caution. Get ahead of this if you can.

Make your big changes in Q1

If you are going to start a new business or make big changes to your strategy, experts recommend making those changes in Q1. This gives your small business time to adjust before the general public gets stuck in election mode.

Get your finances in order

With financial uncertainty driven by election-related turmoil, having a 3-5 year business plan is crucial. Concentrate on your savings. Make sure your business model is sustainable and can weather the storm. If your small business is impacted by tariffs, have a plan to either increase prices or shift earnings expectations.

Anticipate the conversation on wages and healthcare

With issues such as health care, minimum wage, and tax reform bouncing around on the debate stage, be in communication with your employees about expectations and the future. Be transparent but positive. Focus on team building and effective communication.

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