Josh Melick has started multiple businesses in his time and has had more than a few successes. From founding Mxplay, the predecessor to Broadly, through his roles as CEO of both companies, Josh has seen how technology can help small businesses not only survive but thrive in today’s economy. With a focus on cloud computing and communications, Josh believes that local small businesses have a very bright future.
He spoke with us about what he thinks the future holds for small businesses.
What are you seeing in the day-to-day life of small businesses? What problems do they have today that need solving through technology?
Josh Melick: SMBs are facing two separate but related challenges. First, they have to adapt to the changes in consumer demand that have come with mobile technology and social media. Second, they’re struggling to maintain contact with existing customers while also acquiring new business.
How do you think small businesses will stay competitive? What is their role in the future?
I think that businesses will stay competitive by continuing to adopt technology, even if it’s slowly. They’re going to have to invest in software and apps that make their employees more efficient or help them to engage with customers in a meaningful way. There are many examples of companies solving both of these problems—CRMs like Salesforce and business apps like Office 365—but startups still have a massive opportunity to make an impact here.
What do you think the future holds for the cloud and software as a service (SaaS) models? Can you describe how they will change over the next five years?
I think that SaaS opportunities will shift from small businesses to enterprises. The market is still growing for smaller companies. Still, I think the larger opportunities are likely not in horizontal solutions like CRM or payroll but rather vertical solutions that address problems unique to specific industries.
Do you think people will still own their own small business five years from now? Why or why not?
I do think that people will own their own small businesses five years from now. There’s something to be said for the personal touch in business, and I think it’ll take a lot of change before we start to lose that.
What will the small business landscape look like in ten years?
In ten years, I think most SMBs will have a presence online and on mobile. They’ll be using cloud-based software to help them manage their customer lists and maintain contact with existing customers while also acquiring new business.
What influence do you see social media having on small businesses?
Social media is currently one of the only ways for small businesses to engage their customers. However, it can be challenging for small businesses to get noticed by the local community. Still, social media is helping them to not only break through that noise but also forge stronger connections with existing clients.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your thoughts on the future of small businesses?
On top of the trends you mentioned, I’d say that there’s still plenty of opportunities for smaller companies to fill niches in the larger SaaS industry. Of course, the idea has always been that big companies like Salesforce and Netsuite could solve just about any software issue, but I think small businesses are doing a lot to prove that it isn’t always so black and white.