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James Caans predictions for 2015

Silicon Roundabout will replicate Silicon Valleys success

Unless youve been living in a cave this year, youll know that the tech industry has sky rocketed. The UK government has paid particular attention to its development be that financially, socially or economically, and this certainly isnt scheduled to end any time soon. This months Autumn Statement directly addressed the growth in our tech industry, reiterating its importance to instilling innovation and creating huge opportunities for our economy.

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Silicon Valley has always been the champion of the tech industry. This community of startup excellence inspired the creation of our very own Silicon Roundabout tech cluster in East London. Next year we will continue to learn from Silicon Valley and apply this locally, aiding the continued expansion of the industry.

Funding opportunities will diversify

The abundance of financial opportunities can sometimes make it difficult to really understand what works best for you. 2015 will introduce the new, savvier entrepreneur who looks to take financial investment into their own hands. Crowdfunding platforms have exploded with the likes of Seedrs and social lending platform, Kickstarter, acting as first point of call for startup investment.

Globally distributed investor platforms like these allow finance to be allocated to anyone, anywhere. They are not restricted to their local angel network but can access a flurry of financing opportunities across the globe.

Social media will create new consumer platforms

Social media has been a major game changer for the last decade and 2015 is set to be no different. As SMEs weve a shared influencer base, whether you’re a startup in London, Hong Kong or New York, you’re likely to read the same blogs, follow the same media and be influenced by the same entrepreneurial leaders.

The proliferation of social media will continue to spread in the New Year, bringing with it a brand new consumer platform. Expect Twitter and Facebook to drive our spending by utilising buy buttons. These will allow small businesses to promote their services more effectively. This will be huge for the New Year and something we should all be taking into account. Pay attention to the new advertising portals available through these social networks they will become essential for brands big and small to consider within their monthly marketing mix.

I am a huge fan of the LinkedIn Influencer platform. I have been blogging since 2011 and am excited to hear the platform will be getting even bigger and better in 2015. Firstly, they have teamed up with SlideShare to enable greater engagement with blog posts by using compelling images and providing the consumer with a quicker way of reading your blog. As well as this, LinkedIn have now launched their Chinese sister site, sharing Influencer pages with an even wider audience.

2015 is the year of aesthetics

Images have always been a vital component within consumer purchasing behaviour but this year, image-based social media such as Instagram is due to make some big changes including video targeted advertising.

Content marketing really is a must for all businesses and it’s something I believe startups do particularly well. Take time to express your thoughts on trending topics, insights and advice because trust me, it works!?

The general election could be a game changer

As with all predictions into trends there are always factors which could be total game changers for the year ahead, just as social media has been. One of the biggest unknowns for 2015 will be the outcome of the UK general election.

SMEs account for 99 per cent of all businesses and employ around 15m people in the UK, and every political party will be pitching for their votes next year. This could have huge implications for small businesses as each party is forced to think about its offering and incentives to boost the economy as well as its stance on big issues such as immigration and taxes. Its all to play for as we get closer to the campaign trail… and it’s still too early to guess the outcome; but a new Government could bring a new wave of opportunities for small businesses.

2015 is the year of the entrepreneur and whatever happens, I hope that SMEs take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves, whether that be through tech innovations, new funding routes or the wave of optimism that a new government could bring to the table.



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