Every publication focused on technology will provide extensive details about the latest electric car, the rise of artificial intelligence and the ever- imminent promise of the Internet of Things as an everyday part of our lives. While we wait for our self- driving vehicles and robotic assistants, there are tools and methods within reach which could have a great impact on the growth of small businesses.

With new disruptive trends coming up faster than we can refresh our news feeds, it’s easy for entrepreneurs to fall behind. Make sure you don’t miss a trend that could elevate the success of your business. If, by 2018, your business makes use of any of the below trends, you’re on the right track towards reaching a global standard.

1. SMART WAYS TO PAY

As South Africans have become more comfortable with online shopping, the use of payment gateways have become a normal part of retail and trading industries. If you aren’t on PayPal or accepting bitcoins, you might be limiting opportunities to trade globally. The idea of managing finances completely online and beyond basic EFT might be overwhelming at first, so start with something as simple as SnapScan. Your customers are carrying less cash now than ever before, and will soon expect to be able to make payments online wherever they are, including shopping at a market or placing large orders from their boardrooms.

2. DIGITAL MARKETING

By now, your business should have a strong online presence. Your website doesn’t have to be perfect and your social media needn’t be award-winning, but it has to be up and running. If you can’t afford to allocate a big budget to digital agencies to market your business, there are many affordable ways to do it yourself. Click here for insights on 8 digital tools to manage your business on a dime. In 2018, Influencer Marketing is set to grow.

Word-of-mouth becomes word-online as customers share their experiences with brands and businesses on every social media platform available. Get to know the bloggers, journalists and other influencers who will enjoy your product or service, and give them an experience they want to talk about. Everyone is doing it, and you can too. When Facebook launches a new service, they give tech-centric celebrities first access before releasing it to the public. If you’re in the fashion business, send your latest designs to fashion bloggers. If you’ve created a new app, send links to the technology journalists so they can review it. Your own customers can market your business on your behalf if you give them the opportunity to do so.

“Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.” Mark Zuckerberg

3. AUTOMATED MANAGEMENT

This trend is well underway among the tech-savvy startups and big businesses of South Africa, and SMEs can benefit from digital management tools too. The standard office working hours are long gone, as companies realise the importance of flexibility if they want to keep their staff happy.

Technology allows team members to work remotely and still be productive, as long as those involved are disciplined. Gartner states: “By 2018, more than 3 million workers globally will be supervised by a ‘roboboss’.” While South Africans might not be ready for a ‘roboboss’, the use of time management systems like Trello and Chase keep everyone up to date and accountable for their tasks. Entrepreneurs can spend the day meeting clients and pitching their products with the certainty that they can track their staff ’s tasks and productivity at
any time.

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