A new year is a great time to think about what the future could mean for your company. While many things will always stay crucial to business growth - good customer experience, happy staff and well-managed employee schedules (of course!) - the following are five things that we predict could help you grow your business this year... and beyond!

Google+

It feels like the majority of social media users have been resisting Google+ since it launched in 2011, but unfortunately for those nay-sayers, there's going to be a lot of swallowing of words in 2014. This year is predicted to see Google+ become an essential tool for businesses. Google+ is now the UK's second most popular social network and a +1 on a website or web page is considered to have as much value as a back link. Aside from the internal features like Google Hangouts and Google+ Events that you can use with your employees, it's worth giving a little extra focus to your Google+ Business Page because they are increasingly likely to show up in online searches for your business.

Further helpful reading can be found here and here. You can also add Findmyshift to your Google+ circles.

Remote Working

In the last twelve months remote working has shed the stigma of being an opportunity for staff to work in their pyjamas and it is now recognised as a very effective way to reduce company outgoings while also improving staff productivity and work/life balance. Of course, it's not something every company can adopt, but if it is something you've been considering in the past, 2014 is the year to go beyond just thinking about it. Thanks to a plethora of online tools enabling you to maintain good communication and project management with those working from home, it's never been easier to benefit from remote working.

This article weighs up the pros and cons of remote working very well, if you want to read more about it.

App Integration and Automation

Gone are the days when applications don't talk to each other and serve only one purpose. Nowadays, many apps are built solely for integrating two (or more!) different types of online software or applications. Look at Buffer for your social media channels and online news readers like Pulse or Flipboard or for collating your favourite news feeds, all of these apps are designed to integrate and improve the experience of other applications and websites. The good news is that there are now apps to help you integrate a bespoke combination of different apps, including SIteName.

Back in 2012 we signed up to become one fo the first apps to partner with Zapier, who lets you automate tasks between numerous apps. With Zapier you can integrate Findmyshift with Gmail, Dropbox, Trello or even Facebook. Read more about what you can do with Zapier here.

Bitcoin

An unusual one on this list perhaps, but if there was one big financial story of 2013, it was the rise and rise and fall and rise of Bitcoin currency. Essentially an online currency, Bitcoin was once the reserve for err... computer nerds, but is quickly becoming an international currency for goods and services. We began accepting Bitcoin in January this year.

Bitcoin may not be a priority for everybody in 2014, but we do suggest you find out more if you're intrigued as it could give you an edge over your competitors. Here's you can find a list of all the companies who accept Bitcoin and it's growing every day.

More Opportunities for Growth

We're now more than four years on from the beginning of the financial crisis of 2008 and economists predict good things in 2014. This is great news for small businesses as start-up loans will become more available and consumer faith will increase, meaning more spending. On the other side of this, it is being hotly debated if interest rates will go up in 2014, so depending on your current situation, if a loan or mortgage is something you've been considering, you'd do well to get an application in sooner rather than later!

Not for many years have small businesses entered a year that looks so positive and profitable as 2014. Good luck!
Image by Artisrams