Small Business Trends for 2017

The only constant in the world is change. And working at Small Business BC, I experience the province’s changing business trends first-hand. Over the past year, businesses that are on the leading edge of “disruptive technologies” have come to me for market research assistance. Drones, Virtual Reality, Big Data, and Augmented Reality in App development businesses have become more frequent along with the traditional businesses that capitalize on changing demographic trends.

Here are some of my ideas on popular BC businesses for 2017.

Growth in Service Based Businesses

According to Statistics Canada, 80 per cent of BC small businesses are service-based, up 10 per cent from 15 years ago. And in keeping with provincial trends, they dominate the types of businesses that we help start at Small Business BC.

As technology and demographic trends collide to offer every service under the sun, these are the stand-out service-based businesses to consider for 2017:

  • Drone related video business
  • Virtual reality production
  • Augmented Reality smart phone app development
  • Food and drink related business
  • Online retailing
  • Social media coaching
  • Personal trainers
  • Home-care for the elderly
  • Massage therapy
  • Renovation related businesses
  • Interior design
  • Immigration consulting
  • Pet services such as doggy daycare and grooming services with an organic or green component
  • Tour operators
  • Beauty salons

Personal Services

An increasing pace of life, less leisure time, higher incomes, and a world of increasing choice, are factors that are driving the demand for specialized personal services. A trend that continues to grow.

Personal shopping, catering, stress management, time management, life coaching, personal trainers, personal planners, pregnancy coaches, consultants, and personal concierge, are all examples of businesses meeting the needs of the fast-paced lifestyle of BC and people’s willingness to pay for this type of service. Through managing brand loyalty, these types of business can concentrate on fewer clients and offer a higher level of service. Brand loyalty is often demonstrated through social media such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, which encourages recommendations of their loyal customers. Making it the ideal marketing tool for this sector.

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Baby Boomer Services

The baby boomer generation will provide a large market for products and services for the next 18 years. This group’s health, mobility, and increasing average life trend are factors for a growing market. Examples of the business types that serve this group include:

  • Fitness
  • Cuisine in all forms as long as it’s tasty and convenient
  • Health related businesses including vision care, orthotics and treatments for mobility
  • Travel tour services
  • Age reduction products
  • Energy food and liquids
  • Technology coaching for the fast-paced changing world of communication and social media, especially Facebook where 80 per cent of them spend more than one hour a week.

To stay in touch with what boomers are thinking today, check out

Elderly Health Services

People in BC are living longer than any other province in Canada, with an average age of 83 years of age. Since 1999, this age has increased by 3 years.

According to Statistics Canada, the fastest-growing population group are retirees, with 5.8 million Canadians over the age of sixty-five. A number that is expected to double in the next twenty-five years.

Business opportunities that serve BC’s elderly range from chauffeur services, personal shopping, nursing, cleaning, and companionship.

Renovations for elderly that are restricted in their mobility are also an important opportunity for small business. Access ramps, expanded doorways for wheelchairs, automated lifts for stairs, all are projected to be in demand for BC’s aging population.

Selling to Millennials

This year the percentage of millennials in the work force surpassed baby boomers for the first time. Ten years ago this group represented just 18 per cent of the work force. Today they represent 37 per cent and growing. More than generation xer’s (34 per cent) or boomers (31 per cent).

This group has grown up on the internet. Their purchasing decisions are lead by price and peer recommendations they find on social media and blogs. Valuing authenticity over content (43 per cernt), they trust the individual rather than a corporate logo.

Patience is not a strong point with millennials. They expect same-day delivery of their online purchases and are willing to pay for it, twice as likely as any other age group. It is also the reason that brands such as Chipotles and Starbucks remain popular, enabling the group to grab and go. Another food trend for this group is spice.

Especially in fast food, the kind that millennials like, causing older brands like Wendy’s to add spicy items to their menu.

More on what millennials are looking for in products and services: A Trillion-Dollar Demographic: 10 Brands That Got Millennial Marketing Right

Healthy Lifestyles

Businesses that focus on healthy foods, nutrition, and preventative lifestyles (supplements, therapies, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques). At Small Business BC, healthy snack food start-ups are big. So are nutrition drinks; protein, recovery, and general health drinks. Relaxation and mindfulness companies are also increasing in popularity.

App Development, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality

The popularity of smartphones has opened up the market for application development in the same way the internet opened up website design. Application or app downloads went from 4.5 million apps in 2010 to over 269 billion in 2016. Applications (apps) range from testing your alertness on long car trips to converting your phone into a credit card reader for processing transactions. They can also be used to service the hurried, higher income population of Metro Vancouver. Vancouver start-up that services bicycles called Velofix recognized this and now have expanded across North America.

Now add augmented reality to conventional apps and you get the ability to see what a pair of glasses would look like on your face before you purchase them, see what your kitchen would look like before you make the renovations, or just have fun finding the next Pokemon character.

Combine the smart phone with virtual reality and you have a unique experience that can be the next standard in advertising for the tourism industry, home renovation, and entertainment.

Going Social

Other social or crowd sourced online business opportunities include website design, graphic design, online marketing, social media consulting, and content developers.

To learn more about researching the trends that affect businesses, contact Small Business BC’s Market Research Services.

Here to Help

No matter what stage of business, or what problem you face, Small Business BC offers a range of seminars and one-on-one advisory sessions to suit any business.

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