The ageing population

Not only are people living longer but there are fewer births too. This means the demographic profile is changing in most countries. In 1971 only 8 per cent of the Australian population was over 65; in 2010 it was 13 per cent and it’s projected to shoot up to 19 per cent by 2026 (ABS).

The good news: If your business caters for older people, including baby boomers, your market is increasing. This includes aged care and goods and services targeted towards those groups. Health-based businesses will also benefit as people look to keep healthier for longer. If you love your work, then you’re in luck, because the official retirement age is likely to increase, which means you’ll be working longer.

The bad news: There is a smaller working population to support a larger group of dependent retirees. The anticipated rise in retirement age will also affect social welfare payments and super legislation. The self-employed often get left behind when it comes to saving for retirement so make sure you are adequately prepared.

Global population growth

Nearly all of the growth in population is occurring in less developed regions such as Southeast Asia, Africa and South America.

The good news: The opportunity for global co-operation to run your business is better than ever. Technological advances have meant that outsourcing parts of your business to more cost effective regions is possible. It also allows small businesses to provide 24/7 support or service by leveraging resources across the world to “chase the sun”.

The bad news: There is increasing competition from those regions for exactly the same reasons. The danger is that some businesses feel compelled to participate in a race to the bottom on price because of increased competition from regions where costs are much lower. Resist the urge! Differentiate your business on quality and personal service as opposed to purely on price. There will always be someone who will do the job for less but find out where your value is and market that.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business startup section.

Big data

Everyone’s talking about big data (large and complex data sets) and it’s true that there is a proliferation of information out there.

The good news: Harnessing data is a great way to better understand your customers, your market and your business opportunities. Also, if your business specialises in analysing, simplifying and interpreting this data there’s a growing need for your expertise.

The bad news: Information overload can overwhelm both you and your business. Make sure you have the right resources to manage it, particularly when it comes to social media and customer information.

Smartphone proliferation

In 2013, 84 per cent of Australians have a smartphone (AIMIA) and ACMA recently released a report stating that 9.2 million Australians went online via their mobile phone and 4.4 million accessed the internet using a tablet in the six months to May 2012.

The good news: You’re able to work more flexibly and so are your clients. Lots of business tools, which only used to be available on a PC, are now available as apps.

The bad news: Businesses need to go where their customers are so it’s more critical than ever to make sure that your online presence translates to mobile devices. At a minimum make sure that your website displays as intended and that it’s easy to navigate on a smartphone. The flip side of the good news is that there is a greater expectation to be “always on” so make sure you set your boundaries with technology!

Social validation

A recent Deloitte report called it “The Wisdom of My Tribe”. People are increasingly using social media to make purchase decisions.

The good news: A good reputation spreads very easily in the online world. ‘Word of mouth’ is now word of Facebook, Twitter and a whole host of review sites.

The bad news: A disgruntled customer can be devastating for a solo business. Make sure you protect your online reputation.

 How is your business adapting to these trends?

“ Businesses need to go where their customers are so it’s more critical than ever to make sure that your online presence translates to mobile devices. ”
 
Michelle Kvello

Michelle Kvello is a finance and business strategy expert and founder of Lantern Partners. She works with businesses to clarify their options allowing them to grow with confidence. It’s more than just the finance; it’s about achieving what you want.

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