It is far better to foresee even without certainty than not to foresee at all.

Henri Poincare The Foundations of Science
Look to the Future Now so that in the Future you Succeed

Look to the Future Now so that in the Future you Succeed

Posted by martin.parnell |

It’s that time of year when many people are making predictions about the future and several business websites have made their own, with regards to what trends to look out for, in 2020. In a post for FORBES, one of their council members, Marc Emmer, President of Optimize Inc., talks about of Top 12 Business Trends For 2020, including: 

“Streaming Wars. 

What happens when four S&P 500 companies launch a product into a crowded sector at the same time? A streaming war. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the average consumer will subscribe to three to five streaming services. From my perspective, this could be bad news for Netflix, which had the first-mover advantage but is now subject to new competition from Disney+, Apple, Amazon and others.

Tech under Attack

Once the darlings of Wall Street, tech stocks are under fire. In Europe, Facebook, Apple, Netflix and Google are under attack by EU regulators over privacy, and here, we're seeing some politicians propose antitrust action. In 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act will come into play, which I believe could be a preview for what is to come at the federal level. Look for more breakup talk during the presidential election. 

AI Protects the Universe

Adversarial machine learning is being used to combat cybercrime. According to a Capgemeni Research Institute study, 61% of enterprises said they are unable to detect breaches without using AI. In 2020, AI’s most important application will be to protect us from hacks. Given its extremely high cost, I predict that AI as a service will emerge as a product used by smaller companies that can’t afford it.”

 Businesses’ Role in Social Change

Perhaps at no time in history have businesses been more in tune with their responsibility to protect the environment, ensure equality and advocate for social issues. While many start-ups and social enterprises have long sought out double and triple bottom-line results, there is a sea change underfoot where more traditional businesses are seeking out their purpose beyond making a profit.”

Now these, along with his other 8 predictions, Emmer sees as being of significance during the coming year and they certainly make interesting reading. 

However, if yours is a small business, you may ask how they will apply to you.

Therefore, you might want to consider what Kalin Kassabov,CEO of ProTexting.com, has to say, in the post entitled 5 Small Business Trends to Leverage in 2020, in the Inc. This Morning newsletter, published on 27th. December 2019. Kassabov makes the point that, although every small business may be unique, “If you have a small business, it's essential to keep up with the latest trends in technology, marketing, customer service and other areas that affect your business.” This will enable you to live up to customer expectations.

Kassabov reminds us that “A customer in 2020 is likely to be someone who uses mobile devices, orders many products online, is environmentally aware, enjoys social media and reads customer reviews before making decisions. If you want these customers to choose your business, you have to understand how they think.”

So, here are his list of trends that may affect your small business, in 2020:

1. Customers prefer businesses that are green and socially responsible.

Customers are increasingly looking to patronize businesses that follow sustainable, green and socially responsible practices. As Gallup reported earlier this year, younger customers of the millennial and Gen Z generations are especially concerned about such values.

Some of the ways you can demonstrate your commitment in these areas include:

  • Use local products as much as possible. For example, restaurants and food-based businesses can source foods from local farms.
  • Minimize packaging. Stores should encourage customers to use their own bags. Use recyclable materials for packaging.
  • Use green cleaning products.
  • Patronize green vendors and services.

2. Customer reviews will be more important than ever.

Online reviews are not a new trend, but they are becoming more crucial all the time. Customers trust reviews over ads or any other content businesses create themselves. It's absolutely essential to have your business listed on sites such as Google My Business, Yelp and others that are relevant to your business.

The best way to get positive reviews is to provide great products and customer service. Beyond that, it helps to nudge your customers and gently remind them to leave reviews -- whether you do this in person or via email or social media.

3. Traditional businesses are learning to leverage e-commerce.

When you think of e-commerce, you probably think of Amazon and other online retailers. The fact is, however, that many brick-and-mortar businesses are learning to profit from the e-commerce revolution. This can be a way to expand your business without the need for more physical space. Here are a few examples of how traditional businesses can expand online.

If you have a restaurant, you might bottle your signature salsa, curry sauce or salad dressing. You could write an e-book of recipes or the history of a certain type of food. Salons can sell beauty and haircare products. A gym might sell supplements and workout gear. 

If you don't create your own product, you could sell your favorite products as an affiliate. Affiliate marketing is an option for many businesses. No matter what type of business you have, you can either sell your own products or find products on Amazon (or another platform) to sell to your customers.

4. Businesses will use mobile marketing in several creative ways.

Mobile is one trend that will surely grow in 2020 and well into the future. Small businesses can take advantage of the popularity of mobile in a number of ways. For example:

  • Use geo-targeting to provide targeted ads to customers who are close to your business. 
  • Create an app for your business. You can then send out promotions and the latest news to everyone who has the app.
  • Leverage SMS or text message marketing to stay in touch with customers. With permission, you can send texts with your latest offers.
  • Accept mobile payments. Many customers appreciate the convenience of being able to pay via mobile using platforms such as Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Visa Checkout and others. 

5. Stories and livestream will dominate social media.

If you haven't been using Facebook or Instagram stories and livestream video, you're missing a couple of the major social media trends of the last few years. On sites such as Facebook, the main challenge is getting seen by your audience.

Rather than simply posting on your news feed, share stories on Facebook and Instagram. Livestreaming on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube is a powerful tactic for more visibility and engagement. When you post this type of ephemeral content, you can connect with your audience in a spontaneous and authentic manner.

You don't need to create long presentations. The best strategy is to check in frequently and provide the latest news so you consistently touch base with your customers.”

None of us can know, with certainty which particular trends will affect us, but it’s good to have some ideas to ponder over as we enter the next decade. I hope this blog has given you something to think about. As the old saying goes, “Forewarned is forearmed”.

Wishing you all continued success in the years ahead. 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Retire from work, but not from life.

M.K Soni My Gems
How to Embrace Retirement with a New Sense of Purpose

How to Embrace Retirement with a New Sense of Purpose

Posted by martin.parnell |

The New Year is a time to look to the future and many of us will be setting new goals, personally or professionally. We will look forward to the challenges they will bring, despite the trepidation we may feel. For others, it may be the year when they are looking to leave the workplace and face another kind of challenge, the one of being a retiree.

To call it a challenge, may seem like an odd turn of phrase.  To some, not having to go to work every day may have the appeal of an extended vacation, all the time in the world to do exactly as you please, not be accountable to anyone, not to have to face that daily commute.

Of course, that’s all true, but there are other aspects to retirement that should be planned for, if you want it to be beneficial to both your physical and mental well-being.

It may sound great to have all that time to do as you please and you may see it as gaining your freedom. But what about when the “holiday” feeling has passed and your days stretch before you, waiting to be filled?

What about the things you lose? You will no longer have a schedule, no colleagues to bounce ideas off, perhaps your social life is diminished or you have less money to do the things you’d like to do.

Preparing for retirement is not an easy thing to do. None of us knows how it’s going to affect us, but it is something we should all consider before that “last day” arrives.

One thing you can do is to carry on a practice you will have used in the workplace i.e. set yourself goals. This will entail using strategies such as scheduling, budgeting and time management.

Even if you have a partner, you can feel somewhat isolated, especially if they are still working or have pre-established routines, some of which may not include you.  Of course this is an opportunity to share activities, but your partner may feel this is something of an intrusion. These are things worth discussing.

If your partner is still working, his can be a bone of contention. They will still be carrying on as usual, whilst you now have your freedom from work. Be supportive, look for opportunities to help them in as many ways as you can. Are there chores you can take over? Can you help them with their work. If your partner is running a business offer to do some volunteering in that business to help out when the pressure’s on.

Speaking of volunteering. Look for ways to support your community. Volunteer for the local food bank, see if your local senior’s home could do with some help.

 I  heard a wonderful story, on CBC radio, just thetheir day, about Betty Wilson, who goes into Belvedere Park School, Calgary, every Thursday, to read with the children. Betty will be 101, next month.

Retirees can often experience a feeling of loneliness and isolation, which is not good for their mental health. Volunteering, or finding a part time job, has the added benefit of being connected to other people. 

Volunteering will provide sense of purpose a person can feel by committing to charitable causes. It’s not only going to boost your psychological well-being, but it could improve your cardiovascular health and lower the risk of hypertension, too.

Studies show that seniors who incorporate a low to medium level of volunteering in their life report more satisfaction with life and fewer symptoms of depression than those who didn’t volunteer.

There are also organisations, such as Rotary, that offer friendship, connections and the chance to get involved in projects that benefit your community.

If you have an existing hobby or find you now have the time to start one, why not look for local groups that focus on that activity. Join a class and try something new, most community libraries can tell you where to find out about these things and many will provide workshops, talks, book readings etc. and are sometimes free to attend, especially helpful if your budget is now somewhat limited.

It’s also important to keep active. Look at the opportunities around you. Explore your local area by taking walks; join your local sports center or YMCA. Dig out your swimming gear or invest in a pair of snowshoes. Look for activities that are free or inexpensive, so that you do them more regularly.

Retirement can be a challenge, if you’re not prepared. You may feel a loss of identity or self-worth. But, perhaps if you consider some of the things I’ve mentioned, it may not seem so daunting and will provide you with the opportunity to experience new thing, find a purpose and lead to many years, feeling fulfilled and happy in this new phase of your life.

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