sunrise-horizonWith Christmas just two days away, there is no denying that 2014 is fast drawing to a close. Hopefully it has been a successful year for your small business, and you are looking to build on that success next year. (Or if things did not go so well, you are primed to make them take off in 2015!) If you need some advice on strategies and tactics to help your small business thrive in 2015 and beyond, there is no dearth of predictions for the economy, hot technology, and must-implement marketing schemes. While they might not all apply to your company or your niche, the following predictions are a great place to start your 2015 planning.

General Small Business Predictions

10 Small-Business Predictions for 2015
From American Express OPEN, this post provides predictions on the economy and other areas that affect small businesses. It predicts a positive stock market, low commodity prices, and low interest rates—all of which, it suggests, means you should ramp up your small business marketing efforts in 2015, especially for larger ticket items, because US consumers will have more purchasing power and will be in the mood to buy.

Small Business Forecast 2015: Research and Predictions [Infographic]
Based on the findings of The Q3 Spark Business℠ Barometer survey (Capital One’s survey of 400 small businesses across the United States), the survey found that small business owners expect the business environment to improve in 2015. That positive outlook makes them more likely to re-invest in their businesses in the following areas: Salaries (46%), Training (33%), Social Media (28%), Recruitment (27%), and Online Advertising (26%).

CAN Capital Small Business Health Index
This quarterly survey of over 1200 U.S. small businesses conducted by CAN Capital (a venture capital group focused on small business) and SurveyMonkey, found that 58% of small businesses expected to see growth in 2015. As a result of this positive outlook, the survey found that 38% are planning to expand marketing efforts and 35% are planning investments in infrastructure and/or inventory. However, small business owners were concerned that the improving economy would make it harder for them to compete with larger companies for customers and employees, with 35% viewing pricing as their biggest challenge when competing with large businesses, and 21% citing the ability to offer competitive employee benefits as the largest challenge. Another area of concern for small businesses was marketing, with 40% saying that new marketing tactics are a top 2015 priority. However, the survey also outlined the challenges small businesses face in taking advantage of current marketing trends, with 40% of respondents reporting not having mobile optimized websites, and 52% reporting that they are not able to accept online payments.

Technology

Billions Of Dollars Are Set To Flow Into These 7 Areas Of Tech In 2015
From Business Insider, this post highlight technology it expects to take off in 2015 for businesses of all sizes. If you have a small business with a storefront location, you may want to look into #7 on the list—Beacons. Beacons are Bluetooth devices that transmit messages to smartphones and other mobile devices inside a building, or within a tight radius of it. For example, you could use it to offer coupons when a customer walks in the door, or stops and looks in your window.

Microsoft Small Business Predictions for 2015: How the Internet of Your Things, Big Data, Mobile Apps and Mobile Payments Work For You
This post, which has a definitely slant towards Microsoft product offerings, delves into how small businesses can effectively utilize the technologies that have transformed large enterprise businesses. For example, while “big data” may seem like something big companies generate and utilize, even small businesses are now generating large amounts of data that is readily available to them in the cloud. The challenge for small businesses, the post suggests, is not generating the data but identifying the small pieces of it that are the most useful. The prediction is that tools to do this will be more readily available, and that small businesses will begin to take advantage of them.

5 Big Privacy Predictions for 2015
While not specific to small business, and not exclusive to technology, this Huffington Post blog post highlights five key privacy concerns that should resonate with every business owner. One might call 2014 the year of the data breach, and to mitigate the potential damage going forward this post suggests that a “24/7/365 approach” to security will start to become the norm. Among the predictions are that people will begin sharing less (so think twice before you post that cat picture, or you may end up on iknowwhereyourcatlives.com), and that data security will become another key feature in the sales process.

 

Marketing

4 Small Business Marketing Predictions for 2015
Among its predictions, Constant Contact believes the small businesses will “win the local war” because with the advent of mobile search, they can compete effectively with larger businesses when it comes to being found—something increasingly difficult to do in traditional online environments. Using local search tools and techniques, small businesses are just as likely to attract “nearby” customers as their larger competitors. (For example, see Beacons above.)

10 Marketing Predictions for 2015 (Infographic)
Wheelhouse Advisors, a strategic marketing firm, examined their extensive market and customer data to create this infographic. With the proven effectiveness of creating high-quality content targeted specifically to your intended customers, their top prediction for 2015 is growth in content marketing. The other predictions, including growth in personalized and micro-targeted marketing, make sense in that context. One prediction that might surprise you is the decrease in sponsored guest blog posts. Based on Google Web Spam Head Matt Cutts’ warning about paid guest posts (where you pay a site to publish a blog you write that contains links to your business) being a poor way to generate back links, Wheelhouse Advisors suggests you stop the practice, and predicts that others will do so as well.

10 Local Marketing Predictions For 2015
This Forbes post from Yodle CEO Court Cunningham, highlights several trends that will affect how business of all sizes market locally. His top trend is online scheduling and payment for service appointments. He identifies this year’s Amazon launch of a service enabling consumers to find, schedule and pay for local services via Amazon shopping cart as the driver of this trend, and notes that large players like Angie’s List and Yelp now offer this service. He suggests that consumers now expect the same convenience from their small business service providers, and predicts that these small businesses will begin actively looking for (and implementing) online appointments scheduling and payment processing software offerings in order to meet this new demand.

 

For the final look ahead, we’ll leave predictions for well wishing: All of us here at PaySimple hope that 2015 is a wildly successful year for you and your small business.

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Lisa Hephner

Lisa Hephner

My name is Lisa, and I’m the Vice President of Knowledge, responsible for the management of corporate, product, competitor, marketplace, legal, and regulatory knowledge, and creation and dissemination of knowledge tools using these assets to PaySimple prospects, customers, employees, and partners.

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