Small Business Trends 2024: What’s Next For Finances, Tech, And More – Forbes

By Rieva Lesonsky
Technological advances and changing customer expectations are forcing small businesses to adapt.
Anticipating the future is crucial for small business success. But it may be especially challenging this year since there are so many innovations and potential changes in areas like community building, personalization, finances, marketing, technology, and more.
To help figure it out, I asked several small business experts to share their insights on 2024 trends to better prepare you to navigate our ever-evolving entrepreneurial world.
Businesses should make commitment to communities a strategic imperative in 2024
Businesses of all sizes will make fostering the growth of their local communities a top priority in 2024. It’s of strategic importance and can provide a competitive advantage. As businesses, we are all responsible for building stronger economies and more resilient communities.
Ashley Hubka, Senior Vice President/General Manager, Walmart Business
Maintaining a strong brand identity and foothold within the market boils down to how you manage your customer relationships
The “customer is always right” mantra is one many business owners know, abide by, and incorporate into their company cultures. This is why in 2024 I predict businesses of all sizes will invest more in the customer experience to keep their clients happy and returning. Entrepreneurs will seek tools to help them go the extra mile for their customers. Businesses will invest in customer experience (CX) teams to ensure clients are happy from start to end and, most importantly, return for future and repeat business.
Nellie Akalp, CEO, CorpNet
Personalization will be crucial for continuing to build client relationships
Managing the client flow process with a personalized touch from start to finish is crucial for success, continued growth, customer satisfaction, and retention. Ensuring clients feel cared for and their unique needs are met is a win-win for both independent workers and customers.
Oz Alon, CEO, HoneyBook
The future of marketing is going to be incredibly personal
It’s not about a hard sell anymore—you need to create a memorable customer experience that makes [customers] feel a mutual connection to your business. And that gives them a reason to keep coming back for more.
In 2024, I expect small businesses to steer even further into this trend and truly put a personal touch on their marketing communications. They will learn new technologies and leverage them to understand their customers’ experiences, preferences, and consumption habits to make them feel like the stars of the show. This approach will create a much more intimate and trusting relationship, ultimately leading to more clicks, opens, donations, followers, sales, and growth.
Laura Goldberg, CMO, Constant Contact
Small businesses continue grappling with significant challenges impacting their growth and sustainability
According to insights recently gathered by Hello Alice, the struggle to secure capital or find accessible loans remains a pressing issue, with a substantial 31.4% of small business owners reporting this challenge. Moreover, the elevated rate of inflation poses a considerable hurdle for these businesses as well.
Unlike larger competitors, small businesses often lack the purchasing power to handle this escalating issue, facing a dual challenge: navigating inflation’s impact while competing in a market where larger counterparts possess greater financial leverage. This imbalance not only affects their day-to-day operations, but also restricts their ability to invest in critical areas such as innovation, technology, and expansion efforts necessary for long-term success. However, small business owners are resilient and the backbone of our economy, so they will make it through and lead us all into a stronger economy.
Elizabeth Gore, President/Co-Founder, Hello Alice
How to weather a recession
We are seeing a steady reduction in inflation while employment levels remain strong. The Federal Reserve’s interest rate policy seems to be working, and it is reasonable to assume that inflation will continue to decline from current levels. Given these indicators, we expect the economy to achieve the “soft landing” the Fed has been targeting, which means that if there is a recession, it will be short and relatively minor for most.
Industries that would be most impacted by a down economy:
We expect transportation to be one of the hardest-hit sectors in an economic downturn. The long-haul trucking industry is already struggling as consumer spending has shifted away from goods and toward services in recent months. We also expect auto purchases to dip as financing costs have risen dramatically while used car values have declined. As a result, many car owners cannot afford to trade in their existing cars to purchase new ones.
What small businesses can do to prepare themselves financially for a potential recession in 2024?

Ben Johnston, COO, Kapitus
Whatever the obstacle, small business owners get creative and find ways to problem-solve and grow their companies
Last year, according to our small business data, small businesses continued to show a true spirit of resiliency. A key finding from one of our recent small business owner surveys found that half of the companies surveyed agreed that cash flow management tool consolidation positively impacts profitability, and 71% said it positively impacts efficiency. Small business owners are now prioritizing their digital financial toolkits to improve their businesses. No matter the challenges, ongoing cash flow management is essential to effectively running a business.
This year, we anticipate cash flow management will remain paramount in day-to-day operations. The need to streamline management to unlock new efficiencies continues with the help of enhanced cash flow tools, including analytics, funding, and banking. Many (41%) of the small businesses surveyed in our inaugural Financial Confidence Report said they “often” or “always” turn down potential growth opportunities because they are unsure about their cash flow. There is a wide array of benefits for small businesses when it comes to consolidating cash flow management tools, and our data indicates the critical role it plays in helping small businesses garner additional revenue, time, and productivity in the new year.
Brett Sussman, Vice President, Business Blueprint & Banking at American Express
This will be a good year for franchising
There will be continued interest in franchise ownership, especially from people who want to change careers. That is nothing new, but ever since the pandemic, the need to do so has increased. Today’s employees want more control over their hours and their lives. And a good number of them want to continue working from home. So, look for more home-based franchise concepts to be developed to meet this need.
On the financing front, although the Fed will start loosening things up, don’t expect small business loan interest rates to lower in a significant way in 2024. And new franchisees will still need to submit solid business plans and put down fairly generous down payments for loan approvals.
The franchise sectors that will be the strongest this year are food, fitness, and businesses that service the senior population.
Finally, franchise buyers need to do their homework. But they shouldn’t only focus on the numbers. Contacting and visiting franchisees in person must be top of mind for anyone serious about becoming a franchisee in 2024.
Joel Libava, Founder/Owner, The Franchise King®
Creators and SMBs are going global
From the creator and sharing economies to e-commerce and traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, 2024 is the year SMBs go global. For businesses of all sizes, the mindset has largely shifted beyond the local neighborhood to the global digital economy. Some 79% of SMBs [have] cited selling across borders as a focus for their growth, and consumers are ready for it—72% said they’re comfortable buying from businesses in other countries.
Digital payments are transforming opportunities for SMBs to pay and be paid, making it possible to reach new audiences, easily accept secure payments, track and monitor spending, increase security and safety, improve efficiencies, and grow like never before. And with payment innovations allowing for access to earnings in real-time, making it convenient to receive consumer and B2B payments, getting paid has never been easier. Payment solutions like virtual cards also help SMBs with the cash flow, purchasing power, and expense management capabilities needed to thrive in today’s digital-first world.
In 2024, we expect small and micro businesses to benefit from increased digitization that speeds and protects payments, making expanding beyond geographical borders easier than ever before.
Matt Baker, Head of Small Business, Visa Commercial Solutions
More articles from AllBusiness:

Marketers must continue to innovate and stay ahead of the curve by examining how companies strategically utilize the tools at their fingertips
[Our] LocaliQ team identified three key 2024 marketing trends to help best connect with your audience and make an impression.

Chris Cho, President, LocaliQ, Digital Marketing Solutions, Gannett
Marketing leaders will face serious challenges to growing brand value and loyalty next year amid an economic rough patch and changing digital habits. SMBs will need to prioritize communication tools to combat adversity.
AI can only take marketers so far; personalization and connection will be critical in 2024. AI will improve performance in three significant ways: optimize media buys, improve dynamic customer journey mapping, and boost SEO performance.
Tami Cannizzaro, CMO, Thryv
AI is not just a trend but a fundamental shift in how small and medium-sized businesses approach marketing
AI’s integration into marketing strategies marks a new era characterized by data-driven insights, creative innovation, and personalized customer experiences. SMBs and marketers will increasingly leverage AI to uncover hidden patterns and insights, and transform this data into innovative marketing strategies, necessitating a move to understand and actively engage with the data. The role of marketers will evolve, requiring a blend of analytical insight and creative thinking, setting their strategies apart in a highly competitive market.
With AI’s ability to process and interpret consumer data in real-time, marketing personalization will reach new heights. Our 2023 Holiday Report shows personalized emails have an 87% higher click-through rate. In 2024, we expect AI-driven personalization to emerge as a fundamental aspect of marketing strategies for small businesses. Marketers will harness the power of AI to deliver more intimate and connected customer experiences, fostering deeper customer engagement and loyalty.
Michelle Taite, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Intuit Mailchimp
Independent businesses will continue to adopt and embrace innovative tech to augment their businesses
AI will not completely replace workers. Instead, in 2024, technologies like AI and automation will augment independent businesses and help them become more productive, giving back time to focus on doing what they love. According to a recent Visa report, 91% of businesses would consider adding automation and AI over the next 12 months to elevate their companies over their competitors.
The number of entrepreneurs leveraging passive income will continue to rise.
Independent workers are monetizing their knowledge and exploring diversified revenue streams, like affiliates and digital products, converting their service talent into a digital product to hustle and generate passive income.
—Oz Alon, CEO, HoneyBook
More technology will be built specifically for solo business owners to do more with less
We expect to see an increase in the number of solopreneurs and side hustles this year. In the U.S., 27.1 million small businesses are run by a single owner without employees. Building technology for solopreneurs is critical to their success as they’re forced to do more with fewer resources, and technology serves as their extra set of hands.
Matt Feierstein, President, EverCommerce
SaaS companies will shift their focus to more inclusive technology with intuitive points of entry to cater to older business owners
This year, small business-focused technology companies will focus on products that meet older business owners where they are. Generation X and baby boomers made up 86.8% of all small business owners in 2023. Older generations didn’t grow up with the technology that younger business owners are accustomed to—and today’s SaaS platforms will need to include business owners who are slower tech adopters to provide more opportunities and access to new solutions.
Matt Feierstein, President, EverCommerce
SMBs embrace AI and scale back on SaaS providers
The euphoria of AI will start to fade as focus shifts to efficiency: As we brush off the newness of AI and automation, companies will begin to phase out of the trial period and start adopting helpful tools and solutions that create meaningful improvements across the front end and back office.
Tentativeness in the market will begin to ease. Coming out of today’s volatile economy and the increases in the cost of capital, SMBs will start to invest more across the tech sector, with a large focus on manufacturing advances across the supply chain.
SMBs are leveling up by scaling back on SaaS providers; if they already haven’t, most small businesses will migrate to become digital natives. To reduce costs and increase productivity from a management perspective, companies will seek to limit SaaS providers and target partners that offer multiple solutions on one platform.
Aparna Khurjekar, Head of Small Business, Verizon Business
Change is the only constant in the small business landscape
2024 is sure to bring new challenges and opportunities for business owners. Despite the uncertainty, specific trends will continue to impact the small business landscape, including the proliferation of technology into small business operations.
According to Bank of America’s 2023 Small Business Owner Report, 80% of business owners digitally optimized their businesses in the prior year. I expect entrepreneurs to continue integrating new technologies into their companies in 2024. Whether it’s artificial intelligence to streamline payroll and bookkeeping, or augmented reality to provide customers with a more immersive experience, entrepreneurs’ continued embrace of technology will help them save time, stay organized, and reach new audiences as they grow their businesses in 2024.
Sharon Miller, President of Small Business and Head of Specialty Banking & Lending, Bank of America
Generative AI will transform SMBs
Across various domains, such as climate change, healthcare, education, and transportation, organizations of different scales are harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to address intricate global issues. To successfully harness this power, companies must commit to providing inclusive access to generative AI, a technology I consider to be the most transformative of our era.
To see impact, cutting-edge technology must become more readily accessible, allowing for more opportunities to leverage these tools to make a positive impact on the world—which is specifically relevant for SMBs. By integrating AI into their operations across diverse industries and geographies, I firmly believe that SMBs can leverage advanced technologies like AI to address some of our most pressing societal challenges in 2024 and beyond.
Ben Schreiner, Head of U.S. Business Innovation, AWS
About the Author
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media and and has been covering small businesses and entrepreneurship for over 30 years. Get more insights about business trends by signing up for her free Currents newsletter.

One Community. Many Voices. Create a free account to share your thoughts. 
Our community is about connecting people through open and thoughtful conversations. We want our readers to share their views and exchange ideas and facts in a safe space.
In order to do so, please follow the posting rules in our site’s Terms of Service.  We’ve summarized some of those key rules below. Simply put, keep it civil.
Your post will be rejected if we notice that it seems to contain:
User accounts will be blocked if we notice or believe that users are engaged in:
So, how can you be a power user?
Thanks for reading our community guidelines. Please read the full list of posting rules found in our site’s Terms of Service.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *