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Trends Shaping 2024

by Griffin Jack

As the business landscape rapidly evolves, new trends are emerging and gradually becoming more entrenched in the working world. Innovations in technology, service delivery, and more are shaping the present and defining the future. The small, resilient, and trailblazing small businesses that form the backbone of our economy are at the forefront of many of these shifts and defining the future. Let’s look at some of the top trends that small business owners should be paying attention to this year.

Artificial Intelligence

You can’t ignore it – AI is here, and it’s here to stay. You couldn’t avoid it in the media last year, and you probably won’t be able to this year! With text-based AI like ChatGPT writing everything from articles to fully functional code in seconds and image generators like DALL·E 3 immediately generating custom art that would otherwise take days, weeks, or more to produce, the practicality of AI has taken the small business landscape by storm.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) cites Constant Contact’s Small Business Now Report, which shows some eye opening results, including but not limited to the following: 91% of business currently using AI say it has made them more successful, 74% of small business are interested in using AI or automation, and 60% of small businesses using AI in their marketing say that it’s helped them save time and work more efficiently.

AI and automation has established a presence in nearly every aspect of business, from content production and marketing to accounting and financials. This year, we can expect all of these percentages to increase as the appeal of automation continues to expand with more practical use cases, more affordable options, and more ways to realize massive ROI as a small business.

Soft Skills and the Human Touch

While AI and automation can replace a lot of things, there are some things that it just can’t. One of those things, says the SBA, is soft skills – the human touch that makes products, services, customer experience, and brand experience so special. Effective communication, active listening, empathy, patience… these are things only a human can express and convey, and will always be “in style” when it comes to creating the best customer journey possible.

Human beings have always preferred to interact with other humans when it comes to business. Just as an example, we all know how annoying it can be to call customer service and be received by a monotonous bot (or three…) that either replaces the role of a human or prevents you from talking to one in the first place. According to Paul Skeldon, an unsurprising 74% of customers say they’re more loyal to a company if they can speak to a human. For more perspective, the SBA cites a study by Redpoint Global that found that 77% of consumers believe positive customer service requires human interaction. So when it comes to the customer-facing elements of business, it’s good practice to stick to “old reliable” by prioritizing soft skills and maintaining human touchpoints.

Competitive Labor Market

89% of small business owners with employees plan to hire full time employees or contract workers in 2024 and 62% of small business owners with no employees plan to bring people on board in 2024, according to Myranda Mondry’s analysis of the Entrepreneurship in 2024 Report by Intuit Quickbooks.

With the majority of small businesses looking to hire this year, expect the labor market to get even more competitive than it already is. Although conditions can vary heavily by niche and industry, small businesses should do the most that they can to set themselves apart and attract the talent that will propel them to success. Offering competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits should be a high priority for small business owners, alongside creating a fulfilling and engaging culture that satisfies employees’ needs as people and supports their growth as professionals.

The stage is set for 2024 to enter the books as another year packed full with innovations and opportunities that small businesses can use to get ahead of the competition. As AI continues to proliferate and scale up, it becomes a more affordable and attractive option for small business owners to take advantage of, saving time and money. However, it’s important not to lose sight of the importance of the human touch in the process, as it remains a critically important part of the customer experience. Make a conscious effort to build an employee value proposition that attracts candidates and retains talent as more small businesses look to start hiring throughout the year.

“AI Stats and Trends Small Businesses Need to Know Now” [Article]. 9 August, 2023. Constant Contact. Available at: [Accessed 23 Jan, 2024]

“These Small Business Trends Look to Shape 2024” [Article]. 21 November, 2023. U.S. Small Business Administration. Available at: [Accessed 23 Jan, 2024]

Maksimovic, Angelina (1 February, 2023). “77% of Consumers Believe Positive Customer Experience Still Requires Human Interaction” [Article]. CX Scoop. Available at: [Accessed 23 Jan, 2024]

Mondry, Myranda (19 December, 2023). “Entrepreneurship in 2024: Small business trends and predictions for the year ahead” [Blog]. Intuit Quickbooks. Available at: [Accessed 23 Jan, 2024]

Skeldon, Paul (27 June, 2018). “The key to customer loyalty in the digital age? The human touch” [Article]. Internet Retailing. Available at: [Accessed 23 Jan, 2024]