The Small Business Lab division of Emergent Research recently released its list of top 10 small business trends for 2013, and they contain some surprises as well as some more predictable forecasts such as the continued rise of Big Data and mobile among SMBs. Keeping on top of what is on the minds of executives at SMBs can help keep you on track to selling the services they need. There's plenty of opportunity, and here's why.
In good news for MSPs, all 10 trends offer opportunities to offer targeted managed services. Following is a brief overview of what’s coming up this year and how MSPs can respond.
Big Data, Little Tools
SMBs will continue to obtain insights on customers, markets and competitors by leveraging Big Data. However, there will be an increase in SMBs using inexpensive, cloud-based analytical tools to do so. MSPs should develop services that make those tools even easier and less expensive to deploy.
Smartphones, Tablets and the Cloud Take Over
Ongoing growth of smartphones, tablets and cloud computing will require SMBs to go beyond optimizing their sites for these technologies and optimize how they conduct business in a world where their customers live lives built around them. Most SMBs will not know where to start – but savvy MSPs will.
Niche online marketplaces and other products and services will foster growth among solo entrepreneurs and service providers. Scaling your service offerings down to the sole proprietor scope could pay big dividends if you develop enough volume.
Taking Business to the Customers
SMBs in all verticals are moving toward mobile commerce in order to reach busy, on-the-go customers. Successfully conducting mobile commerce is a lot harder than it sounds. Be in a position to provide assistance.
Hitting the Heartland
Emergent Research identifies an “economic Renaissance” in the Midwest caused by factors such as lower rents and cost of business, increased demand for commodities and “reshoring” of formerly outsourced work to the US. Technology infrastructure in the Midwest is not as robust as it is on the coasts – MSPs can help bridge the IT gap.
Bye, Bye Funds
This is the most negative trend of all, but MSPs can find a silver lining. Traditional funding and angel investing of SMB startups is expected to decline significantly in 2013. However, this will make lower-priced MSPs more attractive to SMBs than higher-priced telcos, IT vendors, consulting firms and other “Big Boys” who are increasingly muscling in on the SMB space.
The small manufacturing sector in the US is growing for reasons including rising overseas costs (see “reshoring” above) and increased ability for SMBs to find customers and sell products online. MSPs should develop service offering specifically aimed at this vertical.
Time is Money
This may be the best trend of all from the vantage point of MSPs. “In 2013, products that help users manage time, life and work effectively will be in demand, as will services targeted to relieve schedules of mundane tasks,” states Emergent Research. The opportunity here is self-explanatory.
Consumers can instantly obtain a great deal of data about an SMB’s brand, products, etc. from other consumers via a wide variety of social media outlets. SMBs cannot directly control whether this data is accurate or puts their company in a good light. But through “social listening” services provided by MSPs, SMBs can monitor real-time social media “chatter” to spot any significant trends, good or bad, in how they are perceived in the social media world and then employ responses such as directly contacting social influencers who voice negative opinions to resolve their issues and change the tenor of their commentary.
Obamacare is Here
“Obamacare” is here at least through 2016, requiring SMBs to review their healthcare policies and procedures and comply with a whole new set of regulations. MSPs should design services around the healthcare management needs of their SMB clients.