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Top 6 Business Trends Of 2017

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Looking ahead into 2017, it’s important to not only be on top of new trends in the business world, but to incorporate them. Adopting trends is important for small business owners and entrepreneurs to be able to compete with big companies. You’re at an advantage because you can change your practices quicker than a large organization. Here’s what you can expect of small business trends in 2017:

1. Experts will be driving sales, not order-takers or salespeople

With widespread Internet access, consumers are now seeking out experts’ opinions before making a purchase. Gone are the days of trusting in-store salespeople to provide details on product performance or longevity.

Consumers are looking for experts who can provide information based on their personal experience and their professional opinion without being pushy to make the sale. Experts allow for greater customer experiences, providing deeper connections on relevant topics, increased trust and a superior identification of needs.

2. Crowdfunding over venture capital

This isn’t just for crazy ideas and millennials. Crowdfunding for startups is beginning to take off in the business world as companies begin to recognize its value. Not only are you raising money, the people who support you are validating your ideas and products before you put money into them.

Opening up about the products or services you want to offer can also lead to traction in your community, opening up a line of two-way communication between you and customers, and engaging them to provide feedback. If you’re looking to get started, or just curious, check out Kickstarter and Indiegogo for inspiration.

3. Customer interest will be harder to capture

This is the age of information overload. With the entire Internet in the palms of our hands and constant emails flooding in, more commonplace marketing techniques are becoming obsolete. This means traditional email marketing blasts to all your subscribers just won’t generate as much interest as they have in the past.

Try to personalize their experiences. Look to social media to open up a dialogue with consumers and share more interesting content like videos, which are proven to hold attention longer than other media. Listening to someone speak about the risks and challenges they may face with your product also seems a lot more friendly and unique than a generalized FAQ post.

4. Personalization is the new mass market

If you’re going to the doctor, you want a diagnosis that is right for all of the symptoms you have, not based on what the majority has, right? Think of your marketing and sales efforts in the same way. With more messages coming from other sources than ever before, it’s important to capture people’s attention for longer.

For example, Netflix and Amazon’s success is made from personalized offers and suggestions based on your history. Get to know your customers by tracking their shopping habits and create personalized marketing materials based on large segments of people who follow similar trends (i.e. shop on weekends).

5. Brick and mortar stores are losing their lustre

Retail isn’t just becoming crowded – it’s moving. Mall-style browsing is done with a mouse and keyboard, as outlets like Amazon provide such a large variety of products they could never all be offered in one store. You just can’t compete with that scale as a small business. As a result, the stores that stay alive are now highly specialized and provide excellent customer service.

Think about what you do better than everyone else in your community and focus on it so customers think of you as soon as they need that product or service. Plus, make sure you’re online so your customers can find you while Googling what they need. Get online and add your business to 411.ca for free.

6. Recurring revenue

Major companies are going with a new pricing model and it’s likely here to stay. Instead of offering products at a fixed price, these large organizations are offering services for a recurring fee. Monthly Netflix subscriptions have replaced movie rentals and purchases, Apple Music and Spotify have replaced iTunes and CDs, and Amazon Prime is replacing express shipping fees and other types of media. There’s a reason for this.

Recurring revenues with a high renewal rate are more efficient in maintaining customers. This saves costs as it’s way more expensive to bring in new customers than it is to keep existing ones. You can also keep your finger on the pulse of the market. Look at when and why people are signing up or leaving month after month. If possible, look for ways to turn your business into a recurring revenue generating service, like offering unlimited tool rentals in a month for a flat fee. It’ll lead to greater profits in the long run based on current industry trends.

When looking ahead, keep these emerging business trends in mind. If you can, find ways to incorporate them into your business plan. Although they may just be taking off this year, they’re primed to stick around for the foreseeable future.

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About the Author

This article was written by Michael Ozburn of 411.ca, a platform dedicated to insights and tools to help businesses with big ideas— but limited budgets— market their products and services and reach their target audience. Michael graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from Queen’s University. He’s obsessed with everything marketing and devoted to helping entrepreneurs everywhere thrive.

Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and Digital Innovation Strategist

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(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

I am talking to Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and freelance Digital Innovation Strategist. Tara was selected and recognized by TheNextWeb.com as one of the 500 most talented young people in the Dutch digital scene during the 2017 TNW edition. Tara is known for her creative, entrepreneurial spirit, which she is using to her advantage in leading the change in SMEs and corporates around the globe.

What makes you do what you do?

I tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle. Because of my curious nature, I am in constant development, looking for new angles and new approaches to business problems. Innovation through technology is exploring ideas and pushing boundaries. The most radical technological advances have not come from linear improvements within one area of expertise. Instead, they arise from the combination of seemingly disparate inventions. This is, in fact, the core of innovation. I love going beyond conventional thinking practices. Mashing up different thoughts and components, connecting the dots, and transforming that into something useful to businesses.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I consistently chose to follow my curiosity, which has led me to where I am today. If you want to succeed in the digital industry, you need to have a growth mindset. Seen the fact that the industry is evolving in an astoundingly quick rate, it’s crucial to stay current with the trends and forces in order to spot business opportunities. I believe taking responsibility for your own learning and development is key to success.

Why did you take on the role of Digital Innovation Strategist?

The reason for this is twofold. On the one hand, I got frustrated with businesses operating in the exact same way they did a couple of decades ago. Right now we are in the midst of a technology revolution, and the latest possibilities and limitations of cutting-edge technologies are evolving every single day. This means that companies need to stay current and act lean if they want to survive. On a more personal level, I noticed that I felt the need to use my creativity and problem-solving skills to their maximum capacity. In transforming businesses at scale, I change the rules of the game. I love breaking out of traditional, old-fashioned patterns by nurturing innovative ideas. This involves design thinking, extensive collaboration and feedback, the implementation of various strategies and tactics, validated learning, and so on. I get a lot of energy from my work because it is aligned with my personal interests.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries?

Yes, I look up to Drew Boyd. He is a global leader in creativity and innovation. He taught me how to evaluate ideas in order to select the best ones to proceed with. This is crucial because otherwise,you run the risk of ideas creating the criteria for you because of various biases and unrelated factors. He also taught me a great deal on facilitation of creativity workshops.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I tend to have the characteristics of a transformational leader. People have told me that my enthusiasm and positive energy is motivating and even inspiring to them. Even though I take these comments as a huge compliment, I am not sure how I feel about referring to myself as a leader. To me, it still has a somewhat negative connotation. I guess I associate the concept with being a boss who’s throwing around commands. But if a leader means listening to others and igniting intrinsic motivation in people, then yes, I guess I’m a charismatic leader.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

Yes, one hundred percent. I believe that creativity and innovation flourish when a highly diverse group of people bounces ideas off each other. Diversity in terms of function, gender,and culture is extremely valuable, especially in the ideation phase of a project, as it can help to see more possibilities and come up with better ideas.

Do you have any advice for others?

Yes, I have some pieces of advice I’d like to share.
First of all: Develop self-awareness. You can do so by actively seeking feedback from the people around you. This will help you understand how others see you, align your intentions with your actions, and eventually enhance your communication- and leadership skills.

Surround yourself with knowledgeable and inspiring people. They might be able to support you in reaching your goals, and help you grow both personally and professionally.

Ask “why?” a couple of times. This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. Make sure to often remind yourself and your team of the outcome of this exercise to have a clear sense of direction and focus.

Data is your friend. Whether it’s extensive quantitative market research or a sufficient amount of in-depth consumer interviews (or both!), your data levels all arguments. However, always be aware of biases and limitations of research.

Say “Yes, and…” instead of “No”. Don’t be an idea killer. Forget about the feasibility and budget, at least in the ideation phase. Instead, encourage your team to generate ideas without restrictions. You can compromise certain aspects later.

Prioritization is key. There is just no way you can execute all your ideas, and, quite frankly, there is no point in trying to do so. Identify the high potential ideas and start executing those first.

Encourage rapid prototyping. Don’t wait too long to experiment, launch, and iterate your product or service. Fail fast and fail often. Adopt an Agile mindset.

If you’d like to get in touch with Tara Velis, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/taravelis/

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Callum Connects

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures

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Marek Danyluk has a talent for assessing the competencies of management teams for other businesses and pulling together exceptional teams for his own businesses!

What’s your story?
I am the CEO of a venture capital business, Space Ventures, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses. I also own and run Space Executive, a recruitment business focused on senior to executive hires across sales, marketing, finance, legal and change.

My career started as a trainee underwriter in the Lloyds market but quickly moved into recruitment where I set-up my first business in 2002. The business grew to around 100 people. I moved to Asia in 2009 as a board member of a multinational recruitment business with the mandate to help them scale their Asian entities, which helped contribute to their sale this year, in 2017.

My main talent is assessing the competencies of management teams as well as building high performing recruitment boutiques and putting together exceptional management teams for my own businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
Building the business is very much about attracting the best talent and being able to build a culture which people find invigorating and unique. It’s an exciting proposition to be able to define a culture in that regard and salespeople are a fun bunch, so when you get it right it’s tremendous.

From a VC point of view there is just so much happening. South East Asia is a melting pot of innovation so the ideas and quality of people you have exposure to, is truly phenomenal. The exposure in the VC has taken me away from a career in recruitment. Doing something completely different has given me a new level of focus.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Whilst I came here with work, both my boys were born in Singapore and to them this very much is home. That said, my father in law spent many years in the East so coming and settling here was met with a good degree of support and familiarity.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Possibly Hong Kong. It’s the closest I’ve been to working in London. Whilst there are massive Asian influences people will work with you on the basis you are good at what you do and work hard. I find that approach very honest and straightforward.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Always treat people well on the way up!”

Who inspires you?
I like reading about people who have excelled in business such as Jack Ma, James Kahn, Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, all have great stories to tell and they are all inspirational. No-one has inspired me more than my parents and they are well aware as to why…

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pretty much any technology innovation blows me away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Whilst it is important not to have regrets I do continually wake up thinking I’m still doing my A’ Levels. So, I’d have probably tried a little harder in 6th form.

How do you unwind?
I like the odd glass of red wine and watching sport

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan skiing. I love skiing and Japanese food and it’s a time when I can really enjoy time with the wife and kids. I recently tried the Margaret River which was divine, although not technically Asia.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Barbarians at the Gate

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive is the fastest growing recruitment business in Singapore focused on the mid to senior market across legal, compliance, finance, sales and marketing and change and transformation. Multi-award winning with exceptional growth plans into Hong Kong and London this year, and the US, Japan and Europe by the end of 2022. We are building a truly global brand.

Space Ventures is interested in any businesses that require capital or management and financial guidance or any or all of the above. We have, to date, invested in on-line training, food and beverages, peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring as well as other tech and fintech start-ups. We are always interested in hearing about potential deals.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Twitter handle?
@Spaceexecutive

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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