Five small-business trends that every company should consider

Every small-business owner is looking for an edge to set their company apart or give them better odds of success. Smaller companies are generally nimble enough to change or adopt new strategies when needed. But these businesses also run on a tight budget, and the trends they focus on need to both be cost-effective and demonstrate quick and tangible results. If the strategies are easy to implement, so much the better.

In many ways, small businesses serve as a testing ground for industry trends, and strategies often emerge from their operations that can benefit businesses of any size. Below, five members of South Florida Business Journal Leadership Trust share the trends they’ve noticed and implemented that should be on the radars of leadership teams across industries.

1. Be agile and innovate.

Few small businesses or larger companies from a decade ago have survived and thrived without being agile to prepare for and predict what’s around the corner. Businesses must be vigilant in learning and exploring how to adapt to the unforeseen marketplace — the best of small businesses and companies help create those very changes and innovations in their product, services and delivery. — Jeffrey Bartel, Hamptons Group, LLC

2. ‘Outsource’ technology.

Forty years ago, “outsourcing” was replacing internal labor with external labor on a large-scale basis. Today, a better application of “outsourcing” is the leveraging of technology applications. There is now an “application” solution to just about every function a company needs to perform, scalable to volume and sophistication. Small businesses can achieve high-level functioning at an affordable cost. — Michael Sluka, B2B CFO Partners

3. Try a handwritten note.

A very inexpensive trend that has historically worked well for us is the art of the handwritten note. Whether to say thank you, send a holiday wish or something else, it’s been extremely successful for us, especially in a time when everything is digital. — Durée Ross, Durée & Company, Inc.

4. Adapt to the changing expectations of the workforce.

Digital nomads, the gig economy and a fluid workforce have changed the traditional business model. Employees value freedom, autonomy and flexibility. It is very much an “adapt or die” model for many older businesses right now. It is critically important to evolve the business model to continue to attract and retain top talent, which ultimately dictates the success or failure of a company. — Jaime Sturgis, Native Realty

5. Conserve cash to accelerate growth.

Successful, fast-growing companies conserve cash in several ways. Contract manufacturing or outsource until volume justifies bringing an activity in-house. Reduce lead times (inventory holding costs) by purchasing from distributors rather than manufacturers. Use supplier credit or trade finance, which grows as volume grows and is less expensive and time-consuming than raising capital. — Dennis Custage, Liquid Capital