Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

Although nobody can accurately predict what is going to be big in terms of business, certain trends can be identified in the market. In markets around the world, it’s already easy to tell what trends in the small business environment will be a big hit in 2019. Whether we’re discussing changes in the policymaker landscape, marketing or technological advancements, small businesses should focus on the following variables to secure themselves a profitable year and move forward with their growth and operations.

Tech and Cybersecurity Trends

With a growing number of IoT applications across all industries, it’s easy to see why big voices in the business world identify more advancements in the sector. As the Internet of Things industry expands and matures, it will make a significative difference in performance and reliability of small businesses across various industries. In 2019, creating the necessary infrastructure that allows a better implementation of IoT and big data is imperative. Another concept that small businesses that want to remain relevant and competitive should keep their eyes on is edge computing. This will allow them to grow in capabilities with fewer resources.

Big data is also a trend that will grow in popularity in 2019 among small and medium businesses. While small enterprises don’t particularly have the same technological capabilities like giants in various industries, they still have to process large volumes of data. To remain competitive and relevant, no matter the sector in which small businesses activate, they should consider a wider adoption of similar solutions.

Banking Trends

In the banking sector, we can expect to witness some big shifts in operations and big disruptions. Small business loans and other banking products will be accessed online more and more. There are numerous institutions that already simplified their loan application and approval process and started to carry these processes with the help of online and digital tools. New payment solutions are due to become widely available, mainly because of emerging fintech players. However, the competitivity in the sector is also increasing which means that all banking products will become more accessible and affordable.

The millennial consumer is driving a radical change toward digital banking. This consumer wants to have remote access to various products and solutions whenever they want and need and most financial institutions already adapted to this market demand. The digital banking sector is expected to exceed 2 billion users by 2020. And so, brick-and-mortar banking institutions will have to adapt to the change and invest more in digital baking tools.

Marketing and Advertising Trends

Marketing and advertising will continue to grow and become more and more personal. Stock images and generic ads won’t find their place in marketing and advertising in 2019. To succeed in the marketing and advertising sector, businesses will have to deliver highly personalised products and services and content, be it visual or written.

However, a new trend can already be noticed: user reviews grow in popularity and gain more traction and relevance. Customer reviews are consulted by 95% of customers before purchasing a product. In 90% of the cases, consumers avoid purchasing those products with bad reviews. Also, the same proportion avoids purchasing a product with no reviews at all. Review and testimonial marketing will grow in popularity and small businesses in marketing and advertising should start developing their strategies from now.

With a growing number of customer data sources, the marketing potential will also increase. This will offer marketers more insightful pieces of information and will allow the development of new, more effective, and most important, personalised strategies.

The SEO landscape will be reshaped by voice searches. With a growing number of technologies based on voice recognition and voice search, SEO players will have to redefine their strategies in terms of conversational and long-tail queries.

The Modern Workplace

In the following 12 months, businesses are expected to prioritize their employee happiness. They will try to enforce higher rates of employee engagement and retention. Historically, unemployment rates are at their lowest. The trend has to be maintained, as many small businesses say, mainly because they realize that human resource can be moulded depending on their business needs and aspirations. A happier worker is a more engaged and productive worker (even by 25% more productive than unhappy employees).

Small businesses should prepare themselves to tailor and develop remote work solutions for their employees. Across all industries, small business owners should create and implement remote work programs. In this context, business owners should rethink their communication strategies and protocols so sharing corporate information and facilitate collaboration.

In 2019, industry-specific job openings will no longer rule the job market landscape. A broader spectrum of specialists is already targeted for what were previously seen industry-specific jobs. For instance, in 2019, tech start-ups will look forward to hiring employees from a broader spectrum of STEM specializations, not only IT and development. As the diversity of these companies grows, the demand for diverse experts is growing as well.

Sales and Customer Service Trends

Businesses will have to adapt to the modern consumer in 2019. They have more options and choices than ever and are less likely to settle for unreliable and slow businesses. They will most likely turn to those retailers who focus on personalised customer service, seamless and fast delivery. This way, many large businesses are due to fall behind those small players with better capabilities. Smaller businesses seem to already perfect their sales strategies and customer service capabilities.

However, tech is not replacing human labour, as many anticipated for 2019. The human touch remains important, especially for small businesses. While AI and VR have shown immense potential, the market will not fully automate these processes and procedures yet.

A Growing Focus on Digital Ethics

Consumers generate more data and the way in which enterprises use it becomes a focal point. The concept of digital ethics is not that new, but it was brought under the spotlight only recently, through the introduction of the GDPR in the EU. GDPR has become, over the past months, a useful template for businesses that want to navigate more easier digital ethics.