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Small business trends that are shaping 2024

Staying ahead of the game is key in keeping your business successful

By Kevin O. Stinnett

While no one can predict exactly what the future will hold, there are plenty of trends entrepreneurs can monitor right now to stay prepared for challenges and opportunities in the days ahead. With potential impacts for both day-to-day operations and the long-term picture, the Small Business Administration has put together a list of trends that will impact businesses across the country.

Artificial intelligence is here to stay

There’s no denying that artificial intelligence (AI) is a hot-button issue with implications that go well beyond the tech space. AI is at the forefront of many sectors, including business. In fact, according to Constant Contact’s Small Business Now Report, 91% of small businesses who are currently using AI say it has made their business more successful. With benefits for marketing, operations and more, it may be worth looking into how AI can improve your business.

Don’t forget about the human touch

In a day and age that is becoming increasingly digital, soft skills are more valuable than ever before. Artificial intelligence may be the future, but emotional intelligence is still very much the now. A recent study by Redpoint Global found that 77% of consumers believe a positive customer experience still requires human interaction—all the more reason to make sure you and your employees continue to hone your interpersonal skills. If you need more direction in that area, the Small Business Administration Learning Center offers courses such as “Understanding Your Customer” and “Sales” that can help.

Customer experience is everything

Price and product quality are important, but the concept of the “customer experience economy” continues to reign supreme. What does that mean for your business? Creating a positive customer experience at every level, from research to point of sale. Meet the customer where they are, whether that’s online or in-person, and personalize their journey as much as possible.

Sustainability is important to customers

Few things are as critical to today’s customer as sustainability. According to a recent study by NielsenIQ, 78% of U.S. consumers say that a sustainable lifestyle is important to them, and they want to patronize businesses that share those values.

Cybersecurity is a must in a data-driven economy

As data collection and analysis become standard processes, consumers want to know that their information is secure and responsibly managed. According to Deloitte’s Connected Consumer Survey 2023, 67% of smartphone users are concerned about data security and privacy on their phones. Take the steps necessary to protect your customers and yourself from cyberthreats.