Many business owners see the Autumn as the last push to make the business plans of 2023 a reality.
Over on my business development and networking mastermind (The Insiders) we look at trends all year round; For instance we highlighted the trend into 2024 (and 2025) for more activity based wellness and Learning and development away days for teams and were able to help members with often considered a traditional Business to Consumer(B2C) business to tap into this trend and offer art classes, Macramé and yoga to corporate clients. Opening a whole new income stream with new products and services that have helped increase profits to and introducing them to Business-to-Business customers. (B2B).
With 4 months of this year to go what can you do thinking ahead to 2024 (and beyond) to future proof your business, gain new business, increase profits and make it sustainable?
Especially when we could face so many new challenges. Not least shortages due to global forest fires, the War in Ukraine impacting on Harvests available, inflation that has hardly budged in months, oil and energy prices that fail to drop and wages still not anywhere near the true cost of things.
The very real fact facing many small businesses is that unless they think strategically now, investing wisely and planning accordingly we could lose a lot of businesses this winter.
Here’s the worrying trends, projections, and strategies you can employ to ensure 2024 is looking rosy, profitable and sustainable.
For each point I’ve laid out the issue and a solution. Sorry if it sounds a bit doom and gloom at the start of each point, however, heads in the sand doesn’t fix anything in business (or life!)
1. Continuing Economic Uncertainty
With high inflation, rising interest rates, and recession worries, small businesses risk facing reduced consumer spending and financial instability. Navigating this unpredictability will require financial prudence and adaptability. Remember that mindset and the communication you project to yourself, your staff and customers can have a dramatic impact.
As an example, Amanda Rutland, Insider and owner of the award-winning Gorgeous Gourd’s specialists in unique lamps and home decorations told us they feared this year. In January they said, “No one is going to be buying!” (Please note I’ve permission to share this case study.) I stopped them in that thought process and shared some stats on recessions. Did you know people in a recession don’t stop shopping or dining out? They just choose wisely, make it feel special and ensure it gives them good emotions so they can justify it. There’s a reason Loreal sticks with “Because your worth it”.
When things feel tough, we want treats, just as we did when we were 6 years old, and we scraped our knee. Play into these facts and you can increase profit margins. Amanda told us she had her best January trading ever! And it all started with a change of mindset and then the communication to match the needs and feelings of customers.
2. It is what it is. Fixed and Shrinking Mindsets and Recession lessons business STILL miss!
I’ve been through far too many recessions and yet business owners don’t learn (I’ve grown many a business in a recession despite what everyone said was possible). The quick guide to learn from recession history is;
- Spending less on marketing means you have a smaller share (if any at all) post-recession. You literally kill your own business.
- Ignoring new technologies as they emerge means your competitors are ahead of you. Spending wisely is critical.
- Doom and glooming your customers and staff is lethal. If the sphere of influence impacts on what you think you are capable of achieving, consider what it does to those you are meant to empower, train and encourage? That doesn’t mean adopting a Polly Anna attitude. Get the balance between “We can’t give you more money, but we can give you more time and are listening intently to what matters to you. Thank you for your loyalty and keep talking to us.” In many team coaching, while they’d love more money, the team really wanted recognition and appreciation. And that’s free!
- Retention Did you know the average new member of staff costs a company £11,000 and gaining a new customer can cost 5 to 7 times more than it would to retain an old one! What are you doing to be proactive to that fact?
- Let’s wait…. Is another lethal attitude to sustainable growth and riding out whatever the next year holds for us. If you don’t know what to invest in, what exhibitions to attend, what training to adopt, etc turn to my mastermind group. With professionals from every industry you can imagine you can trust them to be honest and have your best interests at heart. Do you have a community that has your invested interest at heart?
- There’s always a new scam/foolproof/fast route to growth Over the last 15 years I’ve seen so many gurus, organisations, networking groups, training programmes, etc, come and go. In every tough time someone will see an opportunity (and that’s great!) but not if its overpriced rehashed junk that didn’t work the last 3 times, they launched their exciting new programme / book / training.
- Stop communicating. It’s more important than ever to be communicating powerfully to your target audiences, existing customers and even suppliers. Help them see that the future is going to be better than okay. Showcase how you are working to the future. Your plans. Your investments. Remember the media thrive on bad news and businesses fail on it. Communicating the positive and focusing on retention is essential. When growth stalls, doubling down on retaining loyal customers is wise. Identify and nurture your ideal niche. If you aren’t sure post to the Insiders and I can help you establish the best course of action. (Don’t forget there are 3 courses that target this available to you on this website too.)
- Updating offerings – In the pandemic the ones that were open to new opportunities and held onto a growth mindset didn’t just survive they created new products and services that are still delivering remote automated incomes. Adapting products, services and experiences to match economic realities keeps you relevant. But avoid knee-jerk overhauls. Again, the right market research is key. Posting “Would you buy this? “to Facebook is not market research. Again, the Insiders are right for this. They are honest on what they’d buy and at what price point.
3. Rising Digital Expectations
Customers increasingly expect seamless online experiences and engagement across channels. According to Google, the likelihood of users leaving your site increases by 32% when your page load time increases from one to three seconds. Not updated your blog, Instagram, LinkedIn business page or Instagram in weeks/ months or years? And you could be losing customers there too. vesting adequately in digital capabilities and e-commerce presents a growing necessity and cost for small businesses trying to meet these consumer demands. There are lots of low cost (and free ways) to ensure you create an effortless journey that consumers want to follow. (On the Insiders look up the 5 x 1 hour sales funnel training webinars as a starter.)
4. Disruptions and disrupters.
No one wants to hear the word Covid ever again, however with limited vaccines you could have employees and customers who aren’t prepared to take the risk even if you feel it poses no risk to you. And regardless of Covid, sick people can’t work, so disruptions can include supply chain challenges, reduced productivity, labour shortages (if you aren’t offering hybrid working and competitors are what impact could that have?
Head in the sand won’t stop some generations from desiring more than just a healthy salary. Money maybe your driving factor however is it still your employees and customers driver? Research shows us that there is a growing disruption to the workplace. If you listed all the disruptions your business (and customer could face);
- Do you have an adequate business plan in place?
- Do you have an automated marketing strategy in place?
- What contingency plans do you have in case you need to hire a temp or VA? How will they be able to onboard effortlessly and not cause you a ton of extra work?
- Do you understand how your brand could be impacted upon by disruption? What plans are in place?
5. Cybersecurity Threats – Data breaches and hacking attacks are increasing, making cybersecurity protections essential. Thankfully we have some amazing experts on the Insiders. Check out Jayne Meek from SpritzMonkey
Facebook faces more countries banning their platform including Thailand (https://apnews.com/article/thailand-facebook-ban-advertisement-scam-83241d47a3ded83fd8eefd029863d1ec ) and Norway ( https://www.euractiv.com/section/data-privacy/news/norway-set-to-temporarily-ban-behavioural-ads-on-facebook-instagram/ ) because Meta doesn’t deal with spam and false ads efficiently. How will this impact on marketing trends into 2024/2025? Personally, I think for some businesses ads will still work but you are going to need to seriously consider the communication style. Which leads me to…
7. Transparent honesty.
It’s more essential than ever to encourage brand Loyalty and create new income streams. Transparent honesty could be key. Fickle consumers with myriad choices make sustaining loyalty and retention much harder so your marketing plan needs to reflect the fast-paced changing needs of consumers.
Match that with the 2024 trend for the micro influencer you’ve got to be seen! Influencer marketing has evolved massively, and moving into 2024, it will continue to play a crucial role in social media strategies. However, instead of relying solely on macro-influencers, brands will shift their focus towards micro and nano-influencers who have smaller but highly engaged niche audience. As I’ve been saying for over a year, the fake, perfect Influencer marketing has evolved significantly, and in 2024, it will continue to play a crucial role in social media strategies.
The influencer marketer is getting its payback, so if you aren’t an expert in editing, directing, reels, Tik Tok and looking like perfection, fear not. Consumers are savvy on their spending, and you don’t need 100,000 followers to benefit. I’ve had so many opportunities handed to me and I couldn’t tell you how many followers I have on Instagram, it still delivers tangible results – even if I’ve a giant spot and no make up on!
So, get honest, get seen and get on camera. (If you hate that idea, post to the Insiders and I will help you build your confidence first, then create a powerful communication and then share with you how to ensure it’s seen and acted upon, okay?)
Remember by being seen you can showcase to your customers and new leads how much they mean to you. Brand loyalty is easier to achieve when you showcase your genuine love for your customers.Mandie Holgate
Ultimately the key for small business survival and success will be developing resilience, adaptability, and lean operations that provide value cost-effectively. And I’ve even a course for that too!
- 1. let me know how you get on.
- 2. Feel free to share.
- 3. Post to the Insiders so I can help you work on every point raised here and create a unique plan of action for you, your team and your business.
- 4. Got a question? Email me here.