Investing in future small business trends enables a fast-growing business to continue leading the pack—rather than simply keeping up with it. With 99.8% of all Canadian businesses operating as small- to medium-sized firms in 2019, the competition is fierce. Looking to stay ahead of the competition? Find out 5 upcoming small business trends to leverage in 2020 to continue pushing boundaries! 1. User reviews matter Gone are the days of the 4-star rating. Purchasing a new product or service involves numerous steps, however recently, users are zoning into a specific aspect above others: user reviews. Expect online reputation management to become the be-all-and-end-all in 2020. Online user reviews are now essential to selling any type of services or products online, especially when 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses online, according to BrightLocal. Another upside of focusing efforts on user reviews is affordability. Even if most small businesses fall short on cash when it comes to marketing efforts, user reviews are a great way to capture top-quality commendations for your product or service. If the intended audience for your business falls in the millennial category (think 18-34-year-olds), user reviews will matter even more. In fact, 91% of 18-34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. 2. Invest in customer experience If you thought personalization was a key trend in 2019, personal experience is absolutely required to move into 2020. AI and machine learning play a vital role in this acceleration—as Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies get increasingly better at predicting consumer behaviors. As your small business grows well into the new year and beyond, make sure to invest in personalized messaging to your intended consumers to witness an increase in profit. 3. AI assistants are increasing—but aren’t taking over As technology improves, there is a distinct emphasis on AI and predictive analytics. However, don’t expect AI’s assistance to completely replace the human worker. In high-stress situations, customers continue to lean on the support of a human being over an automated response. When applied right—like through an AI bot to answer frequently asked questions—AI assistants can truly reduce the work needed by a support agent. But when applied too much and too often, a company’s brand can be negatively affected. Expect in 2020 to have continued use of AI customer support assistants, but not for every aspect of a business. 4. A shift to remote working It’s clear that starting a business is a costly journey. In particular, infrastructure and physical space can eat up business costs. In previous years we have already seen incremental shifts in remote working globally. As a continued small business trend, this shift will continue to appeal to small businesses as they leverage online marketing and digitization to scale. In addition, remote working provides the opportunity to work from anywhere. With most business data capable of migrating to the cloud (i.e. from old physical files in the office), many small businesses can now outsource their marketing and website development, adopt customer relationship management (CRM) and accounting software, and transition from otherwise expensive operational services to the cloud to save additional costs. If your competition is taking advantage of small business trends like this one in 2020, so should you. 5. Ecommerce above all else The rise of eCommerce is expected to stick around for a while. For example, Export.gov has reported that 19.8 million Canadian eCommerce users were operating online in 2018—with an expected $5.21 million additional users to be browsing online by 2021. These numbers are drastically increasing: in the first two months of 2019 alone, retail eCommerce sales make up $2.2 million US dollars, according to Statistics Canada. In light of these numbers, it’s obvious that small businesses must invest time, money and effort to building an online reputation to grow their sales. To continue leading the pack, expect in 2020 to leverage the role of both social media and AI (if you haven’t already). This will help position your business at the forefront of small business trends like mobile payments, mobile shopping, and voice search. Learn to predict and leverage the trends, year after year, to ensure that your small business stays in the lead. And use Kashoo to make sure you don’t fall behind with taxes! Kashoo uses automation and machine learning to make it effortless to track your expenses and income throughout the year. So what are you waiting for? Try Kashoo free today!