Projections for the Future: Top 5 Small Business Trends in 2018

Rajath Kumar

Thriving amidst difficult environments has never been easy for SMEs in India, but they continue to stand tall. Despite numerous challenges in the form of infrastructural constraints and lack of access to formal credit, they contribute to 8% of the GDP. Rightly called ‘the engine of growth’ for India, SMEs have scaled manufacturing capabilities, reduced regional disparities and balanced the distribution of wealth.

Small businesses are now being increasingly associated with innovation and employment, and the figures state likewise. The micro, small and medium enterprise(MSME) sector contributes to 69% of employment in India. With the growing penetration of technology into mainstream ecosystem, these industries are at the forefront of bringing the convenience of digitalization to the masses.

The Indian economy is expected to be a $5 trillion economy by 2025, and SMEs are cutting roads towards this goal. As we enter the first financial year post implementation of GST, some interesting small business trends are touted to play an important role for a smoother growth journey to global standards.

Here are the latest business trends that you can keep in mind while setting your objectives for FY 2018-19.

Business Trend 1: Rise of Online B2B Marketplaces

E-commerce marketplaces are gradually gaining momentum worldwide, and has branched out to B2B trading platforms. While this is still at an embryonic stage in India, there is no doubt that the potential it holds is huge. According to experts, the scope of the ecommerce B2B industry is six times bigger than the B2C industry, and is estimated to be worth $620 billion industry by 2020.

Companies such as Amazon Business, Alibaba, IndiaMart, Power2SME, etc. are popular online platforms that connect B2B buyers and suppliers to fulfill their business requirements. These digital platforms have helped small businesses surpass technical and geographical limitations to procure raw materials in bulk at reduced prices and also become official supply partners to large corporations. This is one of the hottest small business trends of 2018 that will present aspiring as well as budding entrepreneurs a level playing field with industry leaders.

Business Trend 2: Personalized Customer Outreach via Automated Tech

With the oldest of the millennials attaining 35 years of age this year, the target audience has shifted by a generation. For an age bracket that has been wrought in technology, this band of consumers need more than online communication. They seek a personalized line of contact when availing services from small businesses, with 60% of them choosing emails as a preferred way to establish this connect.

Since the millennial generation has the highest buying power in the market valued at $44 billion globally, this is one audience you don’t want to miss out on. You can target them by leveraging interactive videos, engaging images, and emails customized with these elements for varying demographics. The use of intelligent virtual communication applications will help you implement this in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Business Trend 3: Easy Access to Business Credit with FinTech Lenders

The biggest hurdle for small business owners has always been financing. For a country with 50 million SMEs, there is an unmet credit deficit of a staggering $350 billion. Traditional lending institutions are limited by conventional underwriting that caters only to a certain strata of businesses. Lack of collateral, documentation and operational history have been crippling factors that prevented SMEs from qualifying for formal finance. This, in turn, pushed SMEs to the informal sector where the high interest rates charged by moneylenders fettered borrowers to a chronic cycle of debt.

But, FinTech lenders are shifting the narrative by leveraging technology and unconventional data points to provide affordable loans to small businesses as well as consumers. With customized credit products and zero collateral requirement, these digital financiers bridge the gap that had long existed in the market.

Business Trend 4: Big Data to Drive Operations and Decisions

‘Is Big Data too big for SMEs?’- is a question that requires intensive analysis, depending on the goals that define the small business and its operations. Many SMEs see big data projects as unapproachable and sophisticated, owing to the difficulties inherent in understanding huge datasets. However, studies reveal that a calculated use of big data has a colossal impact on the growth of small businesses and has been the chassis for many popular business models.

This business trend is expected to revolutionize the SME sector by speeding its pace of development. New-age digital lenders do finance technological incorporations if it shows a direct correlation to business growth, so you needn’t worry about the funds for investing in Big Data. Check out Unsecured Business Loans for more details.

Business Trend 5: Shifted Focus on IT Security

2017 saw one of the largest cyberattack worldwide, the WannaCry ransomware attack, that caused the encryption of data on computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system and risked the exposure of sensitive data of companies in over 150 countries. Though the attack was stopped within a few days of discovery, the total damages were estimated to be in billions of dollars.

The IT industry in India contributes to a key part of the country’s economy, a significant number of enterprises will begin to invest in dedicated security systems that focus on detection and response, a shift away from conventional systems that were based on prevention. Security enhancements offered by SaaS/Cloud based platforms have become more affordable for small businesses to establish a dominant architecture for data integrity management.