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Ian Ferguson: Business Strategies To Last A Generation

Each New Year brings with it a time of reflection for individuals and businesses alike. As 2018 is on its way out, small and medium-sized businesses must take the opportunity to examine the past year, with all its peaks and valleys, and plan for the upcoming 2019 with those lessons in mind.

Of course, business operations do not happen in a vacuum, and trends are always changing. Whether the changes are related to technology, marketing, finance or public policy, companies need to be aware of all these external factors as well as their own internal operations.

Today we focus on what global experts say will be critical for business success this coming year. Since the greater share of what businesses do is focused on the market, and those engaging the market, companies that will win in the coming years must get serious about hiring and retaining millennials while turning their promotional efforts towards “Generation Z”.

There is not a serious business owner on the planet who is unaware of the need to understand, and engage with, millennials. Born between 1981 and 1996, millennials are the largest generation in the global labour force, and have forced brands to reimage the products they sell and the talent they hire.

As we approach a new decade, however, millennials are quickly becoming old news. The new generation, Generation Z, are true digital natives and their preferences will dictate a company’s future prospects of success for years to come.

Born between 1997 and 2016, this group - numbering hundreds of millions across the globe - is expected to represent 40 percent of all consumers by 2020 and potentially influence trillions of dollars in family spending each year.

Savvy small business owners are already looking at this generation as a huge opportunity. Most “Generation Z’ers” are either still in high school or just entering college or the workforce. They are at that sweet spot where they are about to spend more for higher ticket items, but have not been consumers long enough to know what to buy. Businesses that study and figure out how to strategically market to this generation could have a built-in customer base for years to come.

In addition to adapting marketing strategies, small businesses should also consider how they hire and engage talent as this young generation enters the workforce. “Generation Z’ers” (even more than millenials) will soon be the most skilled and technology savvy generation of workers. To prepare for these new hires, small businesses should analyse their workplace and strive to look through the lens of the average “Generation Z’er”.

Whether you are building a sales team or hiring technical talent, 2019 is the beginning of the “Generation Z” takeover in the workforce, and small businesses should be prepared.

• NB: Ian R Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at iferguson@bahamas.com.

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