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From an uptick in remote work to leveraging influencer marketing, small businesses and startups can capitalize on these 2020 trends. — Getty Images/Boonyachoat

Smart businesses welcome change. Those with vision can thrive by adapting and figuring out how change can translate into future opportunities. Here are five current trends smart businesses can leverage for growth in 2020.

Working remotely

Technology has changed the where and when of working. Remote work is now at least an occasional reality for two-thirds of the world’s workforce. For millennials and the larger Generation Z that’s arriving behind them, flexible hours and remote work are not just a reason to take a job — they are tools to do the job better.

For businesses, it can be a cost savings. Fewer employees on site can mean less spent on everything from computers to utilities to rent. Then there’s the hiring advantage. Building a remote workforce allows businesses to hire the best candidate — the one living a thousand miles away and the one living right across the street.

[Read our full story on how to hire the best remote employees]

Voice search

Virtual assistants have changed the way we seek information and business needs to change with it. Content created with search in mind will still garner hits, but the trend toward voice search is worthy of attention. With more than a billion of voice searches performed every month, smart businesses will focus on the development of a new SEO strategy.

Re-thinking content to take advantage of voice search means cutting through the noise with a specific solution to a specific question. Businesses that tailor SEO for voice search will come up in fewer searches, but that means less competition and more meaningful results.

Augmented reality

Thanks to our smart phones and their cameras, Augmented reality (AR) is, well, a reality. According to Fast Company, AR brings varied possibilities with a wide range of incredible future implications.

For marketers, AR is the digital equivalent of letting the customer experience their products in person. AR allows consumers to imagine everything from how they’d look as a redhead to how that new gray couch would look with the black armchair they already own. Companies as diverse as Madison Reed, Lowes and Wayfair have leveraged AR and are finding that for many customers, imagining it is one click away from going for it.

While some businesses have developed their own AR interfaces, such investment is not mandatory. Facebook and Snapchat have laid the groundwork for companies interested in stepping into the AR arena without reinventing the technology.

[Read our full story on how augmented reality drives the evolution of brands.]

Authenticity is trending, and with it comes the increased impact of micro-influencers.


Authenticity is trending, and with it comes the increased impact of micro-influencers. These non-celebrity product endorsers (defined as those with between 2,000 and 50,000 followers) post about their lives and the wider world, not just about products. They are seen as more genuine, which means they — and their nano-influencer counterparts — pack a powerful punch.

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, over 300 new platforms and agencies came on the market between May 2018 and May 2019 in support of social media influencers. That’s a mini-industry in itself, and an indication that influencers of all stripes will continue to have impact in 2020.

Micro-influencers lend an outside-the-mainstream vibe celebrity endorsers can’t, and at a more attainable price tag. Businesses looking to leverage the phenomenon of social influence should consider signing up several micro-influencers to expand their reach without breaking the advertising bank.

Continued demand for sustainability

Generation Z has a message for business: Sustainability matters. Poised to become the largest on the planet, the generation of consumers born at the turn of the 21st century views sustainability not as a trend or buzzword but as an existential issue.

A business that ignores the concerns of this coming tsunami of consumers does so at its peril. For a company to remain relevant, it will need to partner with its customers as they attempt to achieve a more ethical and environmentally friendly way of life.

Everything is on the table in the sustainability conversation — durability of products, manufacturing processes, packaging, shipping, equality and workforce empowerment. Forward-looking businesses will take steps to improve their sustainability and find sincere ways to share this information —because with Generation Z, there are bonus points for authenticity.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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