2016 is going to be a big year for the US small business market. As we head into another election, our economic conditions are shifting, technological advances are changing industries, and small business owners need to be on top of shifting trends now more than ever. Here are a few trends to keep an eye out for in the next 12 months.
The labor force in changing.
The on-demand economy is thriving; there’s no doubt about that. As a result we are seeing a huge uptick in the freelance workforce, supported by a boom in job platforms linking people to this kind of work.
Back in 2013, the contracting site Upwork had 1.5 million freelancers registered; now, it has more than 10 million.
But while self-employment is on the rise, small businesses are actually contributing less to our national GDP. In fact, between 2002 and 2012 small businesses’ contribution to our GDP dipped from 48.3% to 44.6%. But, during that same time, however, the number of independent contractors rose to more than 14% of the labor market.
These statistics will inevitably push the labor force to rethink its established standards regarding minimum wage, paid time off, overtime, etc. Moreover, this year we will see how technology streamlining the freelancing marketplace will boost productivity in the small business sector.
Funds are tight.
During presidential election years, big policy changes and financial market moves tend to be put on pause as each party focuses on getting their best candidate elected.
What this means for small businesses who are already facing high health-care costs and high employee wages, is that things aren’t going to get any easier in the next 12 months.
Moreover, if the federal government raises rates anymore, access to capital funds will become even more limited for small businesses. If you were thinking of borrowing, the time is now, while interest rates are still low.
Big technology is becoming more accessible.
Companies used to have to pay top dollar for data and analytics, leaving only big enterprises with real insights into their buyers. Nowadays, technology keeps getting cheaper and cheaper, which means small businesses are better equipped than ever to play with the big boys.
This years big move will be shifting towards the cloud. As small businesses gain better access to automation and integration, productivity can rise.
Cloud technologies, cheaper consumer insights, and the ubiquity of the internet are giving small businesses bigger and better opportunities for success than ever before.
Changes like these can easily impact your businesses, so it’s always important to stay abreast of the latest workforce, industry, and technology trends relevant to you. How you adapt will determine whether your company embraces this future, or falls by the wayside.