The term “business as usual” no longer applies. “Business unusual" is a more apt description of developments in business trends since the 1990s. We are currently witnessing a significant evolution in how companies are driving growth, and the rest of the year promises to continue down this exceptional path. What follows is our list of six business development trends predicted to thrive in 2017.
1. Spinning outdated paradigms
The savvy entrepreneur will rule the day
The development and growth of the internet is creating unprecedented business opportunities for anyone with an idea and the drive to make it happen. Entrepreneurs who have chosen a particular audience or niche will continue to grow. The most successful entrepreneurs are following and capitalizing on the latest trends or finding an outdated business model and giving it a technological twist.
Example: Funding inequality for women in tech? Yes. But Kathryn Finney is working to make a difference. Her venture, DigitalUndivided, identifies, trains and funds women looking to build tech businesses. In addition to other accomplishments, the DigitalUndivided FOCUS Fellow accelerator/incubator program has thus far assisted black and Latina founders in raising more than $13 million in angel and venture financing.
Utilizing subject matter experts became one of the “next big ideas” in 2016, and the business development trend will continue its upward climb this year. Subject matter experts are typically sought out to leverage their expertise in particular areas to help businesses meet specific challenges.
Example: Neil Patel — Neil is a go-to person when it comes to those seeking knowledge in the areas of internet marketing. He is the co-founder of several software companies and helps powerhouses like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue. He’s formed several groups of his own, including QuickSprout and Crazy Egg, among others.
2. Unconventional financial and investment strategies
Money flows from the people
With words like "recession" and "declines in personal spending" floating around the internet, it's no wonder that small businesses are struggling. And entrepreneurs seem to get somewhat squeamish at the thought of beginning a startup right now.
Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular resource for entrepreneurs, which was jumpstarted by the signing of the JOBS Act in 2012.
Crowdfunding is a means of raising money using public outreach, typically conducted online.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is charged with oversight of crowdfunding portals and their compliance with federal securities laws and FINRA rules. Crowdfunding is a safe and regulated way for startups to seek funding.
Example: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, RocketHub and the investment platform 1000 Angels are just a few of the many safe sites for project investment. Since its inception in 2009, Kickstarter alone has raised $2.5 billion for 110,000 success stories.
Savvy investors diversify portfolios
As world economies show increasing financial volatility, it is only a matter of time until the U.S. markets take a hit as well. The best way to prepare is a no-brainer — don’t put all of your financial eggs in one basket.
A wide range of alternative investment strategies are available — venture capital, private equity, hedge funds, real estate investment trusts, commodities and real assets, such as precious metals, rare coins, wine and art.
Example: DarcMatter — DarcMatters' pre-vetted alternative investment formats provide serious investors strategies beyond the norm. Instead of wading through the options available, this company offers a comprehensive range of screened investment opportunities, using built-in search filters to discover funds of interest easily.
3. Catering to millennials creates new opportunities
Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the influence that the estimated 80 million millennials are having, and will continue to have, on the way business is conducted.
Millennials, born between 1982 and 2004, are the largest and most ethnically and racially diverse cohort in history.
They grew up with technology and their dependence on it opens all manner of doors for business development trends. Millennials also demand certain things from businesses — social responsibility, environmental stewardship and a sustainable economy that is fair to all participants. Firms that create attractive offerings for millennials will hit pay dirt in 2017.
According to a Dun and Bradstreet report, millennials gravitate to the major cities, especially ones with universities. They tend to eat healthier, surf the net rather than watch a particular program, are attracted to ethnic food, health food stores, online food delivery and anything that's fun and different.
Millennials are contributing more than $1 trillion dollars to the U.S. economy, and businesses who engage millennials will likely do quite well.
4. Business development trends in digital marketing evolve
The growth of the influencer marketer
One definition of influencer marketing is "the process of developing relationships with influential people that can lead to their assisting you in creating visibility for your product or service." Translated, this means riding the back of a highly successful website to get your message across.
Influencer marketers can create a video about your business on YouTube. They can use social media accounts to share your information or write a blog post about your company.
Example: Reelio is an influencer marketing company that considers marketing to be a combination of art and science, specializing in placing people with a message with the influencer that is right for them. Influencer marketers help companies create engaging messages that combine education, entertainment and inspiration in one package.
According to David Bell of Wharton University, watch for this business development trend to grow as it connects the above trends. According to Bell:
“As digital sources recycle traditional news, they influence what happens in traditional media. Companies didn’t understand how to get media without paying for it, but they are starting to catch on.”
While traditional marketing tactics, such as television ads, have been falling in popularity, digital marketing has taken off to better consumer interaction and increased exposure. For example, Twitter feeds actively engage consumers while creating maximum product exposure for brands. Digital marketing also facilitates relationship building with consumers because businesses can employ a wide range of affordable creative strategies to interact with their target customer base.
Example: Instagram has become a virtual marketing playground for businesses of all sizes. Califia Farms joins other savvy brands knocking it out of the digital marketing park on this highly visual platform — using fun, hip images that echo the company’s stylish design standards and appeal to its base of healthy, active consumers.
5. Technology breakthroughs fuel economy
Science and technology are fueling economic expansion
This business development trend is the most exciting, most lucrative, and has the greatest potential to have a positive effect on human life.
In the span of only 20 years, technological advancements have grown unlike any human achievement in history. It's easy to forget the days when a tiny segment of the population had a dial-up modem to access their new AOL accounts and electronic mail. Now it seems as if we are re-inventing the wheel every year with the advent of smartphones and applications to access information and retail markets.
Technologies with long-term staying power will continue to be a business development trend in 2017.
These breakthroughs have the potential to affect everything from economics to politics, and improve life as well as culture. Some will take decades to develop fully, and some are ready for market. Below are just a few examples:
- Brain implants that reverse paralysis
- Self-driving trucks/refinement of the self-driving car
- Facial recognition systems
- Practical quantum computers
- Advanced solar cell technology
- Curing diseases with gene therapy
- Artificial intelligence/virtual reality
As innovation continues to open new avenues for improving human life, the creation of businesses for the deployment of these technologies will provide jobs and help fuel the American economy.
6. Internet of Everything (IoE) explodes into almost every market
The advent of the smartphone has created an Internet of Everything (or Internet of Things) economy.
Smart devices will increasingly act as a pipeline to the digital universe, and our lives will become so connected to that world that our digital life and physical life will be almost inseparable.
Items within our homes are increasingly being connected to the internet, thus allowing them to be controllable via smartphone. One company even offers a smartphone-controlled crockpot!
The current issue with this is the sheer number of companies vying for a piece of the virtual pie and not enough collaboration to create a singular, seamless user experience. Expect major companies — such as Apple, Google and Amazon — to work toward this goal in 2017.
With all of these business development trends to look forward to, now is the time to prepare your business for what is coming and establish marketing strategies accordingly. Far too many changes are coming down the pike to keep doing "business as usual." You need to think in terms of "business as unusual” to be profitable in the new economy.