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While it’s easy to get distracted by the holidays and closing out the books for the year, the reality is that, as entrepreneurs and business owners, you always need to be looking ahead. Whether you have a startup or an established company, it’s important to be aware of trends in the local business environment, online and around the world. These trends will impact your business no matter what industry or market you serve. While some of these business and technology trends may be more applicable to your own operations than others, they are some of the most impactful areas heading into 2018 that require you address them somewhere in your business strategy.

Freelancers Need Services

When small businesses began to grow, opportunities arose to provide them with specialized services that were unique to their size and need. While many thought they should just focus on the big companies to make profits, those that understood the opportunities inherent in the small business market realized huge gains. Now, the next opportunity lies with services for freelancers, which are also a unique customer segment.

And, the opportunity is tremendous and only continuing to grow. According to the 2016 Freelancing in America survey, there are now 55 million freelancers in the U.S., which constitutes 35 percent of the American workforce. This number is expected to grow to 43 percent of the American workforce by 2020.

Freelancers are struggling to find basic services because they are essentially a one-man (or one-woman) band. For example, health insurance and similar benefits are nearly impossible for a freelancer to obtain. And, when they can get them, the cost may make them just as inaccessible. While some organizations like the National Association for the Self-Employed and Freelancers Union are a beginning, there is a significant gap that could be filled for companies that want to explore how they could solve this dilemma for what could eventually be half of the American workforce.

More Acceptance Of Non-Tech Founders 

Now that some of the biggest tech startups started by non-tech founders have become established businesses and found incredible success, the trend will only continue to grow. This means more opportunity for those of you out there that have an idea framed around technology but no knowledge or experience in developing anything in this field. Numerous founders behind Airbnb, WeGoLook and others have proved it’s possible.

If you are still not sure, consider the fact that there are other trends feeding the opportunity for trend. The growth in freelance developers and online marketplaces with affordable tech talent provide a wealth of skill sets to help you create a viable product or solution from your idea. Even investors are more willing to invest with a non-tech founder if the idea is disruptive and shows promise. Additionally, numerous tools and platforms handle a significant amount of the technical aspects necessary to build that app or product.

If you are considering this, follow those founders that were in the same situation to see how they proceeded and built their businesses with confidence and success.

On-Demand Services Add B2B Customers

The on-demand trend has been burning up the B2C market for retailers and creating a new way to offer a great experience. Now, businesses are beginning to see the benefits of being able to tap into various services whenever they need them and reap better pricing and service in the process. The possibilities again are endless when it comes to creating a startup to capitalize on this opportunity.

Companies may want on-demand legal services when they have a question or an expert on a particular subject so they can improve their strategy while working on it. Companies are already popping up that offer on-demand shipping, equipment rental, asset checking, catering and more.

Uncovering The Real Buying Power

One shifting trend is which types of buyers will have the real power in 2018 and beyond. According to a recent comprehensive study by Nielsen, the bulk of buying power is with the multicultural millennial. The study found that this demographic spends more than $65 billion each year. They also have the power to influence that is worth up to $1 trillion.

This group is considered ambicultural, which means they shift from their family-based culture to a culture that combines their family history with other cultural values. They can influence their peers and their older family members, making them a power influencer that you need to win over and have on your side if you want to tap into their buying power.

In 2018, you’ll need to know how to market to this demographic, including understanding what each sub-group wants and what connects with them. It’s important to determine their preferred communication channel and how they feel about certain brands in your industry. It’s further evidence of the divergent groups within demographics that are emerging and becoming their own force.

More On The Horizon

These are just a few of the trends that you need to jump on now if you want to grow your startup or expand your business. These are areas of growth potential that show a lot of promise and that can all provide sustainable revenues if you recognize their value and frame a strategy around leveraging them quickly, yet thoughtfully.

Source: Forbes

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