Facing tight profit margins and global competition in both local and global markets, today’s small business owners need to keep a close eye on the trends that are shaping the modern marketplace. Specifically, founders need to be aware of the trends that are influencing consumer behavior and changing the way the world does business.

Mobile payments

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Regardless of geography or industry, every small business operating within the United States needs to accept mobile payments. With just PayPal processing more than $31 billion in mobile payments in the fourth quarter of 2016 alone, consumers have sent a very clear message to retailers that they enjoy the increased security and shorter checkout times afforded to them by mobile payments. SMBs that haven’t integrated mobile payment technology into their existing point-of-sale systems are effectively telling millions of consumers they should shop somewhere else.

Collaborative software

One key advantage small businesses have over large corporations is their ability to move quickly. It’s much easier to disseminate information, share ideas and create plans of action with small teams than among sprawling workforces. However, in order to properly utilize that advantage, small business owners need to be able to contact their teams, brainstorm, send documents and create schedules quickly. State-of-the-art collaborative software like Slack and Microsoft Teams lets owners and team members do all of those things and more at very reasonable rates.

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A recent study conducted by First Data found that for the average American small business, the cost of a data breach is $36,000. That number includes costs associated with the mandated forensic examination, liability fees, POS upgrade expenses and a host of fines. One difficult cost to quantify however, is the loss of consumer confidence that comes when a company has to announce that its customers’ private information has been exposed. Given how devastating a data breach can be for a small business, owners need to make cybersecurity a priority. That means investing in a quality digital security system and developing strong internal data security protocols. Also, seeing as the rate of cyberattacks has gone up by nearly 30 percent since 2016, it’s probably a good idea to purchase some cyber insurance.


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This article was written by Mario McKellop for CBS Small Business Pulse