By David Grover

Every year business leaders try to predict the newest trends and changes going on in the business world so that they can stay ahead of the competition, and you should too. As a small business, you probably don’t have the same access to the data and analysis that large corporations have, so we’ve put together a short list of upcoming small business trends that you should be paying attention to going forward.

Mobile Technology

The Millennials are now in their 30’s and driving a larger market share than ever before. Most of them live with a mobile device in their hand (or on their wrist!) and they have fully adopted these technologies into their lives. They also won’t wait around or go out of their way to look up information that isn’t readily available at the touch of a button, so if you want to snag your share of the market, you absolutely must be mobile-friendly. Update your platforms and make sure that you are reaching your prospective audience where they will be searching.

Competitive Hiring

With the likely onset of new sick time and minimum wage rules, many of the larger corporations are beginning to offer higher wages and better benefits in anticipation of changes in regulatory rules. Small businesses will likely lose out on hiring the best and brightest employees if they don’t make changes to their HR policies to keep up. Remember that these things will most likely be laws soon enough, so getting in now and keeping up with competitive hiring practices will benefit you in the long run, by strengthening your workforce.

Cloud Computing and Data Analysis

We all know that big data drives the markets, and until recently, it was costly to get a handle on the numbers. With the massive shift to cloud computing and automated analysis, these tools are now at the fingertips of anyone who wishes to use them, for extremely low prices. Grab onto this trend and make sure that you are taking advantage of these abilities. There are even simple free programs that you can use to get a leg up here, and to teach you how to use the information effectively.

Social Responsibility

A new generation of consumers now has the ability to learn information about your business in an instant, including how much you pollute, how you treat your workers, and what steps you’ve taken to be environmentally responsible. These things matter to this group of consumers, and they are prepared to go across town to your competitor if your business practices don’t align with their values. Evaluate your choices carefully, including everything from the paper you buy to the benefits you offer your employees, and make sure that you’re being a good global citizen, or your bottom line may suffer.

Social Media Presence Counts

This doesn’t just mean have a Facebook page. This means actively engaging with your customers via social media. Your customers will be leaving you reviews, and more than half of people surveyed said that they consult product/service reviews before making a purchase. With social media, you need to make sure that you are following up on customer complaints and setting things right when they go wrong, or you will likely find yourself losing customers.

These are just a few of the top trends for the near future when it comes to small business practices. Stay up to date in order to secure your place among the competition moving forward, or you’re likely to become a thing of the past.