Dear Dan: We are still in the startup stage, trying to build a business that will be leading edge in tech terms. For long-range planning, what are some of the trends ahead that will shape the technology we’ll be using a few years from now? – Planning Ahead
Dear Planning Ahead: The most successful small businesses in coming years will likely be more tech-reliant than even the most tech-savvy entrepreneurs today. They’ll be more connected in a mobile world, market to customers in ways only hinted at right now, and will continue to blur the lines between the virtual and physical business worlds.
At least that’s the vision of small business in the next ten years from a fascinating new Future of Small Business Report sponsored by Intuit and the Institute for the Future. The study concludes that technology will revolutionize the very nature of what it means to run a small business.
Small business marketing will shift from a “push” to a “pull” mindset. Rather than merely accepting what’s pitched to them (the “push”), customers will increasingly find the information they need to make purchasing decisions, and small business will have to have the right information in the right places to “pull” those customers in.
The emphasis will be on providing customers and prospects with the right information in the right context at the right time. A small business’s online presence will be the key factor in finding and acquiring customers. So investing in a high-quality website, keeping up with search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) techniques will be critical.
And according to the report, the most successful small businesses will increasingly market themselves via the connected world of cars and cell phones. As the sophistication of cell phone-based and automobile marketing rapidly improves, small businesses should be on the lookout for ways to take advantage. For example, mobile marketing via cell phones and connected cars will let restaurants and retailers send special offers to customers when they are in the area.
These resources can help you adapt to a high-tech, virtual future:
• For the Future of Small Business Report, visit www.intuit.com/futureofsmallbusiness.
• SmallBusinessComputing.com and SmallBizTechnology.com are two great sites to keep up with the latest tech.
• DavinciVirtual.com offers info and services that will help you “go virtual” with all or a portion of your business.
• George S. May International has launched a new series of industry-specific management “dashboards” for small biz that work with QuickBooks. Visit www.GSMdashboards.com. •
Daniel Kehrer can be reached at