5 Emerging Small Business Trends You Need to Pay Attention To

Whether it's economic shifts, technological advancements, changes in consumer behavior, or regulatory developments, how you interpret and respond to various small business trends in 2024 could be a complete game-changer.

Carpentry business owner working on his latest project
Author By the Roll Editorial Team on January 15, 2024
Reading Time 4 min read

The fundamentals of business success remain constant across companies of all types and sizes. However, trends in the small business world are often characterized by distinctive challenges and opportunities that set them aside from their larger counterparts. For example, you likely operate with leaner resources, tighter budgets, and a more intimate connection with your employees.


Wondering what difference that makes? Essentially, it means you need to keep your finger on the pulse of emerging small business trends to remain resilient, adapt to change, and carve your niche in the market.


We know what you’re thinking. Running your business is a full-time job and then some! So, where on earth are you expected to find the time to identify and research small business trends that matter most?

The good news is you don’t have to, as the expert team at ADP has compiled this helpful list of small business industry trends for you.


5 Small Business Trends to Watch in 2024


Whether it’s economic shifts, technological advancements, changes in consumer behavior, or regulatory developments, how you interpret and respond to various small business trends in 2024 could be a complete game-changer.


Here are five trends creating significant buzz that could substantially influence the future of your small business.


Generative AI Will Take Over Payroll


Before we get too far ahead of ourselves and dig into payroll benefits more specifically, let’s start with an answer to the basic question: What is generative AI?

In short, it's where historical data meets futuristic predictions and innovation thanks to advanced software algorithms, machine learning, and neural networks. Gen AI’s predecessor, predictive AI, has been around for a while, and you’re probably already familiar with it. It’s the technology behind the predictive text function on your smartphone that identifies patterns from your past usage to make predictions about the following words.

So, what makes generative AI different, and why is it one of the most significant small business tech trends to watch out for? In addition to utilizing historical data to make predictions, gen AI can also create new and novel content based on what it learns. In a payroll sense, that means tapping into intelligent, actionable employee insights and operational advice by getting instant answers to a mix of predictive and generative questions like:

  • How much is [employee name] paid?
  • When did I last make an HR hire?
  • How will adding more employees affect my taxation?
  • How do I record 401k deductions?
  • When will my company be eligible for tax credits?
  • What strategies can I use to design the best benefits packages for my team?

The bottom line? With next-level payroll and business insights at your fingertips within a few taps, you can save yourself the expense and time of hiring a team of human pros, meaning there’s more budget available for growth and development initiatives.


Non-Traditional Financing Options Will Grow


The small business landscape has been historically shaped by entrepreneurs who emerged during an era of exceptionally low-interest rates. This environment facilitated the acquisition and repayment of loans, making it a manageable and low-risk venture. However, the current credit landscape for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) presents considerable challenges. Escalating interest rates are driving up the costs associated with commercial loans, thereby complicating the financing of development and growth objectives for these businesses.

The outcome for numerous small business owners is a challenging financial balancing act. Securing funds to manage ongoing operational expenses while simultaneously investing in expansion initiatives becomes increasingly complex, particularly for those who have pre-existing loans that have transitioned to higher interest repayment rates.

But there’s no need to fret about it or for SME owners to hang up their hats just yet because small business banking trends are simply transitioning to alternative, non-traditional sources of capital such as:

  • Angel investors
  • Peer-to-peer lending
  • Crowdfunding
  • Grants
  • Venture capital
  • Fintech

Industry experts predict these types of non-traditional funding will play a vital role in the solvency of small businesses as we progress into 2024 and beyond.


Website Accessibility Will Become a Vital Consideration


Your company's website is usually the go-to spot for potential customers looking into your products and services. That's pretty obvious, right? But here's something you might not have thought about: 1 in 4 website visitors have some sort of disability that makes reading, navigating, or using your website a real challenge. Surprising? Let's dig a bit deeper.

When we say 'disability,' most people picture someone with mobility issues, often someone in a wheelchair. It's a familiar image, thanks to the wheelchair symbol being a universal sign of disability. But here's the kicker: up to 80% of disabilities aren't visible at all.


So, what's an 'invisible disability'? Think along the lines of hearing or visual impairments or even something like dyslexia or a chronic condition that affects mobility. If your website isn't designed with accessibility, you might unknowingly turn away customers. They might struggle to:


  • Read your content if there's not enough color contrast or the font size, type, and spacing aren't user-friendly.
  • Understand your message if videos don’t have captions or images miss descriptive alt text.
  • Navigate your site due to confusing layouts or a lack of keyboard navigation options.


An accessible website isn't just a nice-to-have; it's essential. It ensures everyone can read, engage with, and, most importantly, purchase from your site regardless of their abilities. And guess what? Google loves accessible websites, too, often ranking them higher in search results. So, for small businesses looking to stay ahead in competitive markets, making your website accessible is not just good practice – it's a key differentiator.


Remote Talent Will Enhance Team Diversity


Remote working is one of the small business trends that spread through virtually every industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sure, it’s a trend that began out of necessity. But, just because those days are over (phew!) doesn’t mean you should be walking back your remote working and work-from-home (WFH) policies.


As the modern-day workforce continues to evolve, there is growing acknowledgment of the invaluable contributions that diverse teams bring to the table. In one survey, 92% of CEOs said diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) factors are embedded into organizational priorities and goals. And time and time again, we see that a robust diversity and inclusion policy is a common denominator among our high-performing clients. 


Recruiting individuals with unique perspectives and experiences enriches your teams, fostering the type of innovation and creativity that helps you remain competitive and relevant in the ever-changing global marketplace. In short, it’s a catalyst for business growth. By removing geographical barriers, you can tap into a more diverse talent pool from all corners of the world. This allows you to reach more candidates who, for various reasons, prefer to work remotely than commute to and from a designated location each day.


Side note: You can rack up some considerable cost savings on overheads like office space, catering, and utilities by embracing remote team members, too! 


HR Will Continue to Focus on the Employee Experience


Personalized customer service has been around for a while now. In fact, CRM personalization was one of the hot small business technology trends on one of our lists from a few years ago. In the modern-day business climate, sending clients customized offers and discount codes, personalized automated birthday and holiday season greetings, and notifications based on their specific online actions and interactions have become commonplace.


However, current trends in the small business realm have turned their attention to employee experiences. This makes sense. After all, a happier staff means happier customers, right? So, particularly in industries where talent is a precious commodity, prioritizing and personalizing individual experiences throughout the employment lifecycle becomes crucial. This approach is strategic for attracting, retaining, and nurturing talent. Additionally, it plays a vital role in driving more positive customer experiences and boosting revenue.


Forward-thinking companies are placing a high priority on improving organizational culture. This focus includes enhancing employee experiences in a variety of ways. Elements such as inviting hangout spaces and comprehensive staff wellness programs are becoming increasingly common. Additionally, these companies offer substantial professional development opportunities and easy access to self-service portals for tax and payroll management. All these aspects collectively contribute to elevating the workplace environment, marking a significant shift in how progressive businesses operate.


Payroll Made Easy with Roll By ADP

We know we’ve given you a lot to think about here. But keeping up with HR, finance, and technology trends in the small business world needn’t involve sweeping changes to your operations. Slow and steady wins the race. So, implementing several small and gradual changes is often the best recipe for success.

Why not streamline your tax and payroll processes with Roll? This revolutionary payroll app for small businesses is specifically designed to empower owners and managers with the tools they need to embrace change and innovation.

Want to process payroll in under a minute from any device, anywhere? Done!

Need help with speedy 1099 contractor onboarding and payments? Roll has that covered, too!

How about actioning raises, bonuses, and garnishments within a few swipes? No problem!

Setting up your account is quick, easy, and requires zero training. And because it’s backed by ADP, you’ll always know our experts have you covered with:

  • Built-in tax filing
  • Compliance with changing pay regulations
  • Industry-leading data protection safeguards
  • Access to all the help you need, when you need it, with live in-app chat support

Check out the complete list of features and pricing plans today. Sign up for your free trial, and get ready to Roll! 

Payroll • Business Basics • Small Business • Small Business Payroll • Technology
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