In an increasingly digital world, businesses must be more tuned in than ever to what their customers want and how they want to get it. The ecommerce industry is ever-growing, and has helped level the playing field for smaller retail businesses to capture online sales and compete with their larger peers. But the playing field is also leveling for service-based businesses; they’ll just need to take the leap to take advantage of it.

A major trend for 2017 that service-based business owners are gravitating toward is taking advantage of the tools and technologies that help them grow their businesses and better serve their customers. But, according to a new survey, the 2017 Small Business Outlook for Service Industries, there are still revenue hurdles standing in the way. Here’s what small businesses on the path to growth may encounter:


  1. Increasing profit margin

Business owners know that one of the easiest ways to grow their profits is to focus on improving their margins. For businesses to serve their customers and pay employees, they must be profitable, and margins are a measurement of profitability.

To remain low-cost amongst competition, businesses must innovate more than ever. In 2017, service-based businesses are adding marketing and social media (42%), productivity (29%), and sales/CRM (22%) tools and technologies to increase profit margins in a smart and efficient way. Additionally, SaaS resources including Google (45%), QuickBooks (37%), Facebook, PayPal, and Dropbox (16%) continue to help businesses operate efficiently.

  1. Improving cash flow

Finding an optimal balance of money flowing in and out of a business is one of the most important aspects of building – and growing – a successful company. To gain a better handle on their finances and achieve steady, sustainable growth, service-based businesses are looking for ways to improve cash flow and keep it visible over time.

Simplifying online payment options can help. According to the 2017 Small Business Outlook, 48% of service-based businesses are currently using online payment solutions, and 12% want to add it to their business. They’re also taking advantage of online tools to enhance lead generation and cash flow opportunities (52% utilize online contact/lead forms; 42% utilize online or mobile payments; 31% utilize an online store or shopping cart).

  1. Growing revenue

Getting a brand name out there and marketing services to a target audience is important. And facilitating marketing efforts is a necessary step to effectively boost sales. 48% of businesses plan to invest more in marketing in 2017. Investing time and money wisely and utilizing customer data to boost marketing efforts can be a proactive strategy for business growth.

Small businesses are aiming to break through the stagnancy and making significant gains in 2017. With the right tools, technologies, and a drive for improvement, small businesses everywhere can anticipate, plan for, and achieve growth.

Interested in learning more about what’s anticipated for small businesses in 2017? Download the full survey report here.