As accounting trends change, technology advances and consumer habits shift, it can feel like a challenge for entrepreneurs to create business plans for the year ahead.
At MBSATA, our goal is to stay ahead of trends to help our clients make smart decisions about their business plans. To do that, we stay connected with other thought leaders in the accounting and bookkeeping industry. We spoke with Mark Gilbert, our CEO to see what upcoming small business trends are on his radar, and how business owners can prepare.
Consumers want a smooth buying experience
Consumers are increasingly looking for a more frictionless buying experience, and are quicker than ever to drop out when the check-out process is cumbersome. “Consumers are going to be attracted to more efficient ways to shop,” according to Mark . “Those businesses that have a long difficult experience could have a lot of troubles.”
He also recommends understanding where your customers are shopping, and meeting them there by using retargeting and social media marketing to help make the consumer experience more seamless.
Adopting alternative payment technology
Advancements in payment technology are supporting the way consumers shop, notes Mark. Companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple have had cardless payment options for years, but they’re only now starting to be adopted on a wider scale. Where once it was difficult to find a supermarket that would take Apple Pay, Google Payments, or Zelle, now, most do.
“There’s always the early adopters versus the laggards in implementation,” says Mark. The early adopters win by offering customers the experience they want, as well as by having more time to adjust to the technology. The laggard businesses, on the other hand, end up being forced to make changes much more rapidly to keep up with everyday trends.
Artificial intelligence and automation
From customer service chatbots to machine learning, automation technologies have been popping up in all aspects of business. Mark expects advances in automation in the accounting space for business owners will continue to grow over time.
“Technology has taken away a lot of the day-to-day bookkeeping work and entry-level work for an accountant who works with business clients, or for business owners doing it themselves,” he says. The result is that more businesses will have the ability to focus on what the numbers are actually saying about their business, rather than on the busy work of keeping their books up to date.
Data and business intelligence
Because of the increasing automation, business owners have access to more business intelligence data, faster than ever. Now more business owners can start to take advantage of that real-time data to make critical business decisions.
Early adopters can pull ahead of the competition by learning how to read the story behind the numbers and apply those lessons to their business, he notes. “People want answers to questions much more rapidly,” says Mark, “and they’re leaning on accountants and advisers for coaching on their businesses.”
Tax reform and legislation
Business owners will continue to see reverberations from the tax reform bills and the changes in the form of new sales tax legislation affecting eCommerce companies.
“With change, there’s always uncertainty,” says Mark. He recommends business owners stay educated about legislation that may affect their businesses, and seek out the help of accounting specialists in their industry who can advise them on changing legislation.
Planning for the year ahead
Ultimately, Mark recommends that business owners educate themselves about what’s going on in their marketplace and industry, and turn to experts when they need it.
“A lot of business owners go into business to follow their passion, but they’re not business people,” he says. By taking advantage of expert advisors in areas like accounting and finance, business owners can get back to focusing on their passion.
Are you prepared for the year ahead? Get in touch to learn more about how an accounting professional can help your business grow.