Mobile Business &
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with Natalie Sisson

5 Key Trends for Small Businesses to Tap Into in 2013

As time races ahead and we move into another year, it’s valuable to look at what we can expect from the new innovations and advancements that are coming our way.

As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to keep on top of these trends so that you can future- proof your business and tap into real opportunities that will inevitably affect your business.

If you know what’s going to be hot 3-5 years from now, you can start pivoting your products and services to meet those future demands.

future-proof-businessAt the very least, doing a little research into what the futurists predict, means that your better educated and prepared, and potentially one step ahead of your competition.

To make it easy, I’ve done a lot of this research and reading for you.

Below I’ve highlighted what I think are five of the most topical trends for small business owners.

1. You’re Holding the Future in Your Hands

I bet you didn’t realize that, did you? That smartphone you’re addicted to and can always be found on is, in fact, going to replace even the smartest of laptops. Everything is going mobile baby! There are already android phones that are as powerful as laptops, and you can just hook them up to a monitor and keyboard and use them in the same way.

The number of useful free and paid apps is going to continue to rise. You can already use your mobile as a merchant point-of-sale terminal, as a scanner, GPS and personal assistant (if you have voice command prompt tool `Siri’ enabled).

2. Power to the Internet and Cyber Hackers

As Thomas Malnight pointed out in the Economist, we have more digital freedom than ever, but with that comes a `big brother’ society. As you know, information and knowledge is power and now, more than ever, we have such a vast amount of both at our fingertips.

Personally, you can use it as a competitive advantage, especially if you adopt a `first to market’ approach by taking this information and making it dead easy for your clients to consume that saves them time, money or makes them smarter, happier or less overwhelmed.

But with that comes a new breed of cyber crime, and even cyber wars as security becomes paramount. The more you make available, using the cloud tools, social media and through remote learning sites, the more they will want to tap into what you’re doing. Expect security measures to tighten up a lot as a result, and be prepared to invest in protecting your digital footprint. If you’re interested in learning more, I wrote about how to protect your private parts on social media and also how to avoid your blog being taken prisoner.

The Future of Work is Mobile

3. Simplifying Information Overload

Face it, we live in a world where we are constantly connected, and the average American consumes, on average, 11-12 hours of information a day! No wonder we get overwhelmed and stressed out. That’s why I highly recommend going on a digital sabbatical regularly during your week and definitely taking weekends off.

The plus side is that services and brands that remove some of that clutter, offer the chance to disconnect, and give consumers some space will be in increasing demand. So if you’re launching a product or app to help simplify someone’s life or the daily tasks they undertake, then make sure you ship it. If you’re in the business of (or thinking of) running off site retreats or getaways, then think about how you can make these even more relevant to those in dire need of looking after their mental or physical well-being.

4. Quality Over Quantity

Driven by environmental, economic, and social concerns, people want more out of everything they buy. That will come through not just in what they purchase, but how as well. Expect to see more bartering, renting, and swapping. So does this mean you have to provide more for less, or discount heavily?

Personally, I think quite the opposite. While you should always look to provide incredible quality in whatever you do, there’s a return to providing boutique services and offerings. In an age where people can get most `how-to’ information for free online, your strength will come in packaging it in a way that adds value to your customer’s life and enriches what they do. It’s like the return of the boutique travel agent who give superior service to you and customize your entire holiday, even though you can spend hours yourself researching and booking it all online.

5. The New Digital and Mobile Bank

As a Suitcase Entrepreneur I hate checks, deposit slips and physically going into banks. Every time I call my bank, who’s put my card on hold for suspicious activity (namely me using it in too many different countries), they ask me for my address, landline and all those things I just don’t have as a digital nomad.

Luckily the financial systems are changing (but not fast enough in my mind) to recognize the online nature of all we do, and our location independent tendencies. Digital wallets like Google Wallet and mobile banking like Chase bank’s cool smartphone app (where you can bank checks through your phone by taking a photo), are opening the door for us to manage our finances from anywhere and make payments from our hand.

As consumers become more trusting of using tools like PayPal’s mobile payment app, we will find ourselves in an increasingly cashless society. Banks are so last year. We are the new face of the financial institution.

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About Natalie Sisson

Natalie Sisson is a Suitcase Entrepreneur who is on a mission to ensure others create freedom in business and adventure in life. She blogs about how best to use online tools, social media and outsourcing to build a thriving online business you can take anywhere. She's also the cofounder of the exclusive WE Mastermind program, ,designed to take you from zero to launch of your first product or service in three months, beginning May 16th.


  1. Jessica English says:

    Questions r.e. #5… I am really wanting to embrace digital payments, but I just can’t wrap my brain around paying an addition 3-5% annually to take credit cards or PayPal mobile payments. When my clients hand me cash or a check, there is no fee to me for accepting that, and I’m willing to invest the time to cash the checks in order to keep that 3-5% fee. Yet I see cash/checks getting more and more difficult for my younger clients, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I need to pay up.

    • The fix here is building it into your prices, specifically NOT offering customers who pay with a check a 5% discount, this just makes you seem cheap, and frustrating to a customer. The flexibility of online payment systems outweighs the small amount of fees and honestly, It’s just part of business in the online world. I know that’s rough to hear to many and while it will sting to change, once you’ve done it, it’s done.

      I entered the market only online, so it was just part of the landscape and I don’t even notice anymore, or think about that %3 I could be making more each year. Instead when I get a physical check, I consider the extra amount bonus and it’s a great thing. I know I’m on the edge but I haven’t used a check in 3+ years personally, and when I receive them, I use paypal to digitally deposit them, I couldn’t tel you what the inside of a bank looks like!

  2. A very interesting post especially on cyber crime. This was my industry for 16yrs & I’m always slightly surprised it’s not got more attention within the small business community. Small businesses are low hanging fruit; hackers could mop up & cause mayhem quite easily. Re the new digital bank – I love this concept becoming more prevalent! Re simplifying information overload & taking a digital sabbatical, I’m guilty of consuming too much information. I even wrote a post on being ‘guilty as charged of working too hard’ here which your readers might find of value:

  3. I’m definitely looking forward to a time when services and institutions aren’t so focused on fixed addresses as a means of identification and communication. I got robbed in South America and had to get a friend in the UK to retrieve my new bank cards from my mailbox and send them to a different friend in the US, who then brought them down to Mexico when they came down for a vacation. I will never take my cards for granted again!

    Lots of great points to consider – especially the digital sabbatical – thanks Natalie!

  4. Solid tips!

    Awareness is key when looking ahead, and being aware of the oncoming hackers and the “not going to shrink” amount of information that will be thrown in our face is so smart! I constantly forget that I don’t have to take it all in, it’s about quality, not wasting my time wading through junk.

    I took a look at the protecting your blog article, and Just Host is a pretty pithy web host, I hope you’ve moved onto something better! I just did a migration for a client from Just Host to Hostgator VPS, and the performance has really jumped.

    Useful post for those jumping into online business and looking ahead! Mobile, protecting from hackers, simplicity, quality, and no checks!