With the end of 2017 in sight, everyone is getting ready for the new year. It’s an exciting time of year. People are wrapping up the old, and prepping for the new. Part of the fun of the new year is analyzing 2017 to help hypothesize and better prepare for what will happen in 2018. 2017 was a year of change and growth – from new technology, the surge of cryptocurrency trading, and a continued favoritism and appeal of working online. It was a good year for businesses, particularly small businesses. More new enterprises opened their doors and have done well. Unemployment is also down. However, this doesn’t mean everything is perfect. Don’t make your 2018 plans without reading the Top 4 Small Business Trends of 2018.
Top 4 Small Business Trends of 2018 – Flex-Schedules.
The number of people in the USA working remotely, online, or for a home-based business 100% of the time increased. This wasn’t the only trend that continued. In order to keep up with this trend, more companies had a flex-schedule. For example, some businesses now have worked work from 8-6, but give workers Friday off. Others allowed more workers to take advantage of a flex schedule. This is a broad term, ‘flex schedule’. At some companies, it means that workers are allowed to work from home a certain number of hours in a given period. At others, you need to be at work during ‘peak hours’, but beyond those hours, as long as you have your required hours done, you are free to start and leave work when you please.
This trend is predicted to stay put in 2018. Workers are now seeking out some sort of flex-schedule as an incentive to work for certain businesses. For people looking for new jobs, a flex-schedule has almost become a sort of necessity. It keeps workers productivity and happiness high. It also has additional benefits for businesses, including lower overhead and location operating costs.
Top 4 Small Business Trends of 2018 – Data Breaches.
2017 was the year of data breaches. By far one of the biggest that got the most attention was Equifax. Back in August, Equifax, the credit consumer reporting agency, fell victim to a data breach. The breach resulted in the compromise of over 143 million peoples’ data and personal information. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Years ago, Target had a breach. Other banks have been compromised.
In 2018, we can expect to see more data breaches. People are beginning to take security more seriously. One reason people will choose a Mac or PC is due to the higher levels of encryption The same goes for certain brands of cellphones. However, there is still a long way to go. If you want to work towards safely protecting your business and personal data, check out this blog post.
Top 4 Small Business Trends of 2018 – A Bubble.
Back in 2007, the housing bubble in the USA burst because unfit borrowers were given mortgages loans that were bundled and given a triple A rating by the rating agencies. Since then, people have taken more of an interest in bubbles and been on the lookout to protect themselves for the next one.
“Things are going very well right now. Unemployment is down, consumer confidence is up, the S&P 500 has grown 15% in a single year, and house prices are over 20% higher than they were before the market crash in 2007. Something has to give. That’s the sentiment on Wall Street, at least. The Economist, Wall Street Journal, and just about every other financial outlet has fretted over a bubble for the better part of the past year, with the Economist saying, “Search for such euphoria on Wall Street today and you will come back empty-handed.” When the bubble does pop, small businesses will be hit. Not because they’re exposed to the assets that burst, but because many of their clients are. This is especially true of B2B operations. When big businesses tighten their belts, small businesses are the ones that feel the pinch,” says Home Business Magazine.
They are absolutely right. People are concerned that we may be on the brink of another bubble. Some hypothesize it will be Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency has exponentially increased in value this past year. More people are taking notice to it, and wanting to get rich quick. This is very reminiscent of the house flipping craze related to the burst of the mortgage bubble in 2007.
Another bubble economists and policy makers hypothesize that is forming, but may not burst for a while, is student loan debt. With interest rates between 5% – 12%, monthly bills range from $500 to $1500+. As the population grows, and more people look for jobs, starting salaries rarely are high enough to cover the cost of the loan repayments, let alone long-term planning, like IRA’s and more.
How does this impact small businesses? Fewer customers and a skilled work force that is harder to come by. People may use a small business as a launch pad to get a better job after gaining work experience. It will also mean that fewer people will have the financial resources to start a small business.
Top 4 Small Business Trends of 2018 – Net Neutrality.
On December 14t, 2017 the Federal Communications Commission approved the repeal of New Neutrality. What is Net Neutrality? In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission to adopt Net Neutrality rules that keep the internet free and open — allowing people to share and access information of their choosing without interference. In a nutshell, Net Neutrality keeps the internet open and free. It prevents internet providers, like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content, applications or websites you want to use.
With the repeal of Net Neutrality, small businesses’ overhead cost of running a business will be hit. And this will be a big hit.
“Without the Net Neutrality rules, companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon will be able to call all the shots and decide which websites, content and applications succeed. These companies can now slow down their competitors’ content or block political opinions they disagree with. They can charge extra fees to the few content companies that can afford to pay for preferential treatment — relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service,” says Save the Internet.
It will be harder for small businesses and home-based businesses to take advantage of internet advertising, get the word out about a new idea, and network. Imagine having to pay every time you post something on your businesses’ Facebook page. Think of how many more hours it will take to create online content with slower internet. If you’re concerned, and you should be, Congress has the power to reverse the FCC’s vote.
Top 4 Small Business Trends of 2018 Sources: Home Business Magazine and Save the Internet