If there is one thing that we can be sure of, it is that every new year sees a number of new trends that challenge, hinder and empower SMEs across the globe.

The key for small businesses is to identify the trends that offer them a unique competitive advantage in their chosen market, before capitalising on these to achieve sustainable growth.

In this article, we will look at three of the most exciting business trends that are likely to take hold in 2017 and consider SMEs can leverage these to their advantage: –

1. The rise of collaboration and big business investment

In the digital age, we have seen collaboration and commercial partnerships become a key driver of SME growth. This trend has evolved further in recent times, with large corporations and service providers increasingly inclined to invest in their small business clients through a host of innovative vehicles.

Take logistics giant Parcel2Go, for example, who recently announced that they would invest £300,000 in small business customers throughout 2017. This financial incentive will take the form of strategic price reductions and discounts, creating the cheapest delivery service on the market and reducing the spend for SMEs across the board.

It is estimated that some customers may be able to save up to £3,200 per annum through the initiative, which in turn can be reinvested into more strategic endeavours such as marketing, sales and customer service.

This creates a huge opportunity for your SME, particularly if it can align itself with progressive and well-resourced partners. The key is to be aware of these innovative incentives and leverage them where possible, while paying particular attention to operational service providers (such as couriers).

2. The continued revival of email marketing

In an age of social and digital marketing channels, many began to deride email as an outdated way of communicating with customers. This may represents a huge false economy for small businesses, however, as this platform remains one of the most accessible, competitively priced and profitable marketing mediums around.

An estimated 68% of brands continue to recognise the importance of email marketing, for example, while this technique is estimated by some to deliver an incredible ROI in the region of 3800%.

The competitive advantages of email marketing will continue to offer incredible opportunities to SMEs in 2017, so long as they are able to leverage the platform in the right way. More specifically, they must avoid delivering overly promotional sales pitches to their customers, as they instead publish insightful and engaging content that builds trust, develops relationships and ultimately adds value to their experiences as consumers.

To achieve this, you need to create a sustained and strategic email marketing campaign, and one that focuses on sharing regular content which establishes the entry point into a relationship with individual customers. While these should still include calls to action (CTAs), they should initially refrain from focusing on sales and instead encourage readers to find out more about the brand, its product range or the problem that it is trying to solve.

Over time, you can then look to include more direct and actionable CTAs that look to convert sales and direct customers to product pages.

3. The emergence of BYOD in the workplace

For years, small businesses have been reluctant to embrace the core principles of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Much of this has to do with a lack of understanding or technical proficiency, while there are also concerns about allowing personal devices to access secure networks and potentially sensitive, consumer data.

Make no mistake; however, a simple and informed approach toward integrating BYOD can deliver numerous advantages to small businesses while enabling them to capitalise on their natural advantages in the market.

In terms of benefits, BYOD can deliver enormous hardware savings to SMEs while transferring operational costs to the user. Additionally, BYOD creates a culture of collaboration and engagement, and one in which workers are empowered to undertake administrative tasks and become more productive outside of the workplace. These benefits translates into higher profitability over time, through the reduction of costs and an incremental increase in output.

By also reinforcing the security of your wireless network and creating a culture of responsibility among staff members, you can actively reduce the stress placed on your IT department while enabling technicians to focus on larger and more purposeful projects.