The explosion of entrepreneurship continues, with more and more people taking the plunge and starting up. I am delighted that the subtext and communications around starting up has evolved and entrepreneurship is now a respected, desirable profession.
In the past, being an entrepreneur stood for something which seemed unattainable; it was a finished product – a business owner who had made their money and was already successful and wealthy but this isn’t the case anymore. These days, the entrepreneurs of our generation are held as heroes in their communities so use this to your advantage.
Here’s what I think SME’s should be looking out for in 2015.
1. Tech clusters
Tech clusters are ever-growing and continue to develop financially, socially and economically whilst promoting the importance of innovation. The UK Government paid particular attention to our very own silicon roundabout in 2014 and this year is set to be no different…
2. Social media – the King of digital marketing
Marketing should be a number one priority for all SME’s. The proliferation of social media during the digital age has, and continues to be, a ‘one to watch’ and it is no different this year.
The best thing about these platforms is they’re free! So every business has the opportunity to make a name for themselves within the digital sphere. Small businesses in particular have the freedom to be a bit more quirky in their branding; something bigger corporations can’t always do with a more rigid brand guideline in place – take advantage of this!
I urge every SME to revamp their marketing strategies this year and pay special attention to content marketing. Consumers want to know what you’re up to; they want to buy in to your story. As well as this, you can really make a name for yourself if you begin sharing expert hints and tips that others in your industry may find useful.
If you’ve learnt something interesting form your start up experience, why not share it and help build your own personal brand within your industry? This is exactly what I did when the LinkedIn Influencer platform first launched and 2 million followers later, I’m certainly glad I never looked back!
Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are changing the way consumers shop by introducing ‘buy it now’ buttons which allow small businesses to promote their services more efficiently – another game changer for the next 12 months. Also pay attention to the new advertising portals available through these social networks – they will become essential for brands big and small to consider within their monthly marketing mix.
3. The year of aesthetics
Images have always been vital within consumer purchasing behaviour so it’s no surprise that Image-based advertising will be making its mark in 2015.
Sites such as Pinterest and Instagram are seeing fast growth, making their consumer experience more fun and interactive. Innovation in 2015 will most likely be image-led and sharing pictures, ‘how-to’ videos and your business experiences will increase customer engagement and improve your brand.
4. Finance alternatives continue to evolve
Nowadays, the abundance of financial opportunities can sometimes make it difficult to really understand what works best for you.
This year we will see the introduction of new, savvier entrepreneurs who looks to take financial investment into their own hands. Crowdfunding platforms have exploded with the likes of Seedrs and social lending platform, Kickstarter, acting as first point of call for startup investment.
Globally distributed investor platforms like these allow finance to be allocated to anyone, anywhere. They are not restricted to their local angel network but can access a flurry of financing opportunities across the globe.
Related: Expand or die?
Last year I really felt the wave of optimism around start-ups and SMEs sweep the nation, I believe that this is set to continue for 2015 and I urge all would be entrepreneurs to seize the moment and make 2015 the year of the entrepreneur.