Says Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Gill Marcus: ‘These are unusual times with rapidly changing information.’ Change is inevitable – it shapes our lives and impacts on our businesses. As a franchise owner, keeping abreast of the latest business trends can give you the competitive edge…
Business Trend One: The Great Recession
- According to Professor Desmond Lachman of the American Enterprise Institute, Greece will default on its debt by the end of 2011, which will have a domino effect on Spain, Portugal and Ireland, leading to a renewed global downturn.
- The G4 nations (BASIC Countries) – that is, South Africa, Brazil, China and India – are proving more robust than developed markets and will continue to wield more clout in driving global economic policy in 2011.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the South African economy to grow by 3.6 % in 2011; however, unemployment levels will remain high and tight credit controls will remain in place.
- The Rand will continue to be strong driven by high gold prices and a weakened dollar. But while a strong Rand keeps inflation at bay, it does impact on exports.
- Currently, interest rates are at their lowest levels since 1973. The interest rate looks set to flatline in 2011, although economists point out that a feared double-dip in the US or a crash in the Euro Zone could signal further cuts.
GET CLUED UP ON THE ECONOMY - Subscribe to The Financial Mail.
Business Trend Two: The Rise of Social Media
- The battle between Facebook and Google for who wins first spot in most weekly site traffic will continue this year.
- There’s a battle emerging between security and privacy issues on social networking sites.
- There’s rising interest about the importance of having a Company Social Media Policy. Recently, the PJA Social Media Index Survey indicated that only 29% of companies globally have such a policy in place.
- Employers will increasingly use social media sites like LinkedIn to recruit employees.
- Social media will be integrated into all facets of a company’s business, from Marketing and PR to Industrial Relations and crisis management.
- With customers hit with a deluge of advertising messages daily, brands which offer their customers unique, meaningful and engaging content on social media platforms (branded content) will gain the competitive advantage.
GET CLUED UP ON SOCIAL MEDIA - Social Media – Read Social Media Marketing for Dummies by Gary E. Haffer (John Wily & Sons).
Business Trend Three: Customer-centricity
- Realizing that the customer must be placed at the centre of an organisation’s business strategy is more important than ever
- There will be more self-service adoption – transferring customer services online, to websites, blogs and social media channels – and a greater emphasis on after-sales service to encourage repeat business.
GET CLUED UP ON CUSTOMER SERVICE - Read Branded Customer Service: The New Competitive Edge by Janelle Barlowe and Paul Stewart (Berrett-Koehler).
Business Trend Four: Entrepreneurship
- Entrepreneurs should upskill, that is upgrade their current skills set, or acquire new skills
- Opportunities abound in clean energy and ‘green business’, as well as the mobile marketing industries.
GET CLUED UP ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP - Read Run Your Own Business and Make Lots of Money by Eric Parker and Kurt Illetschko (Frontrunner Publishing).
Business Trend Five: The Growth of Trade Unions
- According to the International Labour Organisation, trade union membership worldwide will grow in the next few years, in response to difficult circumstances in the labour market.
- Over the past three years, membership of South Africa’s largest trade union federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), has grown steadily – in terms of signed-up members, COSATU is now three times the size of the ANC.
- COSATU has indicated that 2011 should be declared a year of ‘mass mobilisation on economic policy and against unemployment, poverty and inequality’.
GET CLUED UP ON THE SOUTH AFRICAN LABOUR MARKET - See the South African Labour Guide.
Business Trend Six: The Emergence of the 24/7 Market
- Companies will increasingly need to offer round-the-clock service to accommodate the business they do with suppliers and clients in different time zones around the world – customer service representatives will need to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- E-stores (virtual stores) will play an increasingly important role, allowing customers to place orders, and pay for them, anywhere, anytime.
GET CLUED UP ON THE NEW MARKETPLACE - Read The 24-Hour Customer: New Rules for Winning in a Time-Starved, Always-Connected Economy by Adrian C. Ott (Harper Business).
Business Trend Seven. Declining Employee Morale
- Employee loyalty is on the decline – only 25 percent of workers feel a strong attachment to their employers, and 4 in 10 feel trapped in their jobs, according to Walker Information, an Indianapolis-based research firm.
- Staff turnover is high in scenarios where employees feel undervalued, and such turnover impacts on productivity and profitability – smart companies which make employees feel valued and take their motivation seriously will gain a crucial competitive edge.
GET CLUED UP ON EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION - Read 1001 Ways to Reward Employees by Bob Nelson (Workman Publishing Company) and How to Reward Your Employees: Motivating Staff without Money.
Business Trend Eight: Telecommuting
- Star Work Force Solutions, an American research consultancy, predicts that 100 million Americans will be telecommuters – that is, working from home – by the end of this decade.
- A recent report by research firm Gartner showed that 48% of American employers will be incorporating work-at-home schedules into their corporate lifestyles, mainly to lower office operating costs.
GET CLUED UP ON TELECOMMUTING - Read 101 Tips for Telecommuters by Debra A. Dinnocenzo (Berrett-Koehler Publishers).
Business Trend Nine: Women at Work
- More women than men are earning university degrees and the number of women in executive positions is climbing.
- Says Jobprofiles.org, women entrepreneurs employ 35% more people than all the Fortune 500 companies combined.
GET CLUED UP ON SOUTH AFRICAN WOMEN IN BUSINESS - See Top Women in Business and Government.
Business Trend Ten: Outsourcing to Freelancers
- This approach allows for more flexibility in an uncertain environment, controls costs and keeps overheads down.
- In addition, freelancers and contractors take care of their own tax and UIF affairs.
GET CLUED UP ON HOW TO USE FREELANCERS - Read Freelancing Expertise: Contract Professionals in the New Economy by Debra Osnowitz (Cornell University Press).
Business Trend Eleven: The Work/Life Balance
- Increasingly, job satisfaction is more important to people than pay.
- Companies will have to take cognizance of the work/life balance, as it relates to the productivity and creativity of their employees.
GET CLUED UP ON WORK/LIFE BALANCE - Read the Harvard Business Review on Work and Life Balance (Harvard Business School Publishing).
Author: Franchise Finder, Online Directory of Franchises and Business Opportunities in South Africa