As a small business owner, the need to innovate is essential to survive. With nearly 30 million small businesses in the U.S., entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for new ways to gain an edge over the competition.

The start of a new year means the latest business trends to jumpstart your 2018. And it’s time to revamp and rethink your small business strategy. These five growth strategies are sure to have a lasting impact across industries, and in particular, on your business.

  1. Automate Where You Can

The mundane tasks of your day-to-day prevent you from executing on what moves the needle. Think daily calls and scheduling meetings. In fact, entrepreneurs spend 70% of their time on daily tasks rather than investing in strategic initiatives.

And without that investment, how can the business grow?

With the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI), businesses will start automating daily tasks more frequently in 2018. That means using tools to outsource time-consuming operations, respond to service requests, or unlock customer insights.

If you’re not sure where to begin with this technology trend, start by prioritizing which tasks you’d like to cut first. Then use these automation tools to get going.

  1. Create A Mobile-First Experience

It’s no secret that we are spending more time on our smartphones. According to a Smart Insights report, U.S. customers spend more than 70% of their time online using a mobile device. And while a majority may not spend most of that time buying online, about 62% of smartphone users have bought something from their phone in the past.

And that number keeps growing.

That’s why one of the biggest business trends is prioritizing a mobile-first e-commerce business. Whether you’re a bakery or furniture designer, give your customers an easy, streamlined way to buy or book from their phones.

And no, that doesn’t mean you need to have an app. Get started with this easy step-by-step guide from Shopify.

  1. Create a Personalized Buyer Journey

Now more than ever, customers want you to pay attention. And that doesn’t only include when you’re talking with them face-to-face. With this marketing strategy, take notice of their past experience as much as their buying habits.

  • Searched A Specific Product. Did your customer look at the same ottoman more than once? Send an email with their favorites and recommendations for products they may like.
  • Cart Abandonment. There’s still time to get your customer across the finish line. Remind them that they still have products in their cart with a simple email.
  • Product Update. If you know a certain update would benefit a certain segment of your customers most, let them know! They’ll be happy you did.
  • Loyalty and Rewards. If you haven’t yet, start a rewards program for your most active customers. This could be collecting points for discounts or a doing ‘buy 10, get one free’ offer.
  1. Invest in Digital Payment

Since the 1960s invention of the debit card, we’ve been moving toward cashless payments. And it’s speeding up faster as smartphones and mobile checkout become more prevalent. Making it a new business trend to watch out for this year.

Paper money is losing its appeal with only half of consumers carrying cash when they head out. Even then, most carry less than $20 in their pockets. Needless to say, making it rain cash money may now just be a sprinkle.

In 2018, businesses will need to accept a wider range of digital payment options. That includes Apple Wallet, Square, and QuickBooks Go Payment. And trust us, this shift might be one of the best of all. Going cashless means more secure payments, streamlined booking, and happier customers.

  1. Transform How You Deliver

Figuring out last-mile delivery is one of the biggest business trends for retailers this year. With the growing influence from Amazon, customer demand for same-day delivery has reached record-setting heights.

More than that, consumers view their delivery experience as a direct reflection of the business, not the third-party carrier. That’s why businesses are turning to alternative delivery services. And it’s easier to put in place than you think. With one quick app sign up, you can send out your first delivery today.