Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stay on top of 7 trends to keep your business/association afloat

This AP news story focuses on small businesses ... but could have easily have been written about trade associations, professional societies and/or nonprofit organizations.

The story about operating your business as if it were 1982 certainly applies to associations and nonprofit organizations.

Just look at the dramatic declines in “noonday service clubs” such as the Jaycees whose membership has declined from 200,000 to only 20,000)
Nearly all seven trends certainly apply to associations and nonprofits.
  1. The cloud. Although social media and mobile get more buzz, the great change-maker for small business comes from the cloud. This could really help small budget associations and nonprofits who are challenged to keep up with member expectations about connectivity. 
  2. Social media. Social media is hot right now, and small companies are entranced with the idea of it.  No doubts here. The rapid advance in the use of social media platforms (across all ages) challenges associations and nonprofits not only in recruiting and retaining members and donors but also in communications, content and connectivity.
  3. Mobile. The mobile juggernaut continues in 2012, both for running your business and reaching customers.   The rapid adoption of mobile technology via smart phones represents another challenge as associations and nonprofits should be retrofitting websites to work with mobile technology.
  4. Hiring. Small companies already have picked up their hiring.   Most associations and nonprofits have benefitted from the recession as we have had access to job candidates who had been sucked into the corporate world. As the recession ends, most of us will find fewer candidates as well as pressure to increase salaries across the board.
  5. Credit. Credit has been tough for small businesses for years now. But it will get slightly better this year, making it a bit easier for healthy companies with strong customer demand to expand.  This is probably not a major item for most associations and nonprofits ... yet, it may indirectly impact us as it benefits our members and donors.
  6. Analytics. One of the great things about cloud applications is they not only give you data, they give you reports.  No doubt that we will be challenged to measure our efforts as we work to prioritize programs and services as a tool to determine which get funded.
  7. Global. You may not be a global business yet, but I’m guessing you may be soon.   While most associations and nonprofits won’t be going global, all of us in the U.S. will face continuing needs to diversify our programs and services to fit an increasingly diverse population.
What do you think? Which of these trends are most important to you? What other trends are impacting your organization?

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