What should small business owners expect in 2014? Although nobody can truly predict the future, we can get a good estimate by looking at trends on the horizon for small business in the New Year.
While putting together their 7th annual Top 10 Small Business trends list, Small Business Labs divided trends into four distinct categories: technology, economic and business, social and demographic and health care. What follows are highlights from the list:
- The Convergence of Mobile, Cloud, Data and Analytics. Technology is changing the way business is conducted and enables small companies to build and run their operations at a fraction of the cost putting them in direct competition with larger businesses.
- The Small Business Digital Divide Widens. Recent research shows small firms who embrace technology outperform their peers who resist it. It is predicted that this gap will widen further in 2014.
- It’s a Visual World. The advent and ease-of-use of short-form video apps like Vines and Instagram are turning many consumers into amateur videographers. Likewise, they expect video imagery from the companies they do business with.
Economic and Business
- Networked Organizations. Collaborative technologies like the Internet and the cloud are allowing companies to connect anywhere, anytime and behave more like nodes in larger networks rather than as separate entities.
- Outsourcing Opportunities. As businesses operate like networks, they can focus their internal team on strategic functions and outsource less strategic roles to independent contractors, freelancers and partners. This change has created more opportunities for firms who provide services like bookkeeping, copywriting, and financial services – just to name a few.
- Portfolio Careers. With the recession and now the rebounding economy, the traditional career path of yesteryear has been turned on its head. No longer do most workers take a job and move up the ranks at one employer over their entire career. Nowadays it is more common for individuals to bounce between traditional employment and self-employment (ie. Freelance and contract opportunities) or have multiple sources of income (ie. Part-time work, moonlighting, freelancing, etc.).
Social and Demographic
- Income Inequality. With national and local debates over minimum wage and living wages continuing, it is estimated that income inequality will become a bigger issue in 2014.
- Boomer/Millennial Business Partnerships. A growing number of baby boomers and millennials are building businesses together due to both the lack of traditional jobs in the economy and the complementary skills that they each bring to the table.
- Green is the New Black Again. It is obvious that the recession stifled many efforts towards sustainable goods, services and business practices, but with the rebound of the economy, interest is these practices are rebounding as well.
- Obamacare. Small business owners who are opponents of the Affordable Care Act are going to have to put their political views aside as the law comes into full effect in 2014. They will need to focus their efforts on choosing the most cost effective health plans for their employees.
“Top 10 Small Business Trends for 2014”. Smallbizlabs.com. 12/17/2013.