If you’re a small business owner, 2016 will likely be a time of significant change.
From opportunities that will arise from technological innovation to potential long-term demographic, political, and financial changes, 2016 could herald new challenges or paths forward for your company.
To be able to adapt and adjust to these trends, it’s key that you stay on top of what’s happening.
Here are seven trends that you should be paying attention to this year:
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1. The Rise of Fintech
The rise of financial technology companies is going to transform the way small businesses work in 2016.
Retail businesses will see new payment options like mobile wallets and crypto-currencies start to change the way they do business.
An even bigger impact will likely be felt with the rise in online lending and financing for small businesses.
As many small business owners know, it can be very hard to get the small or mid-sized loans that they need to grow their businesses.
This will transform small businesses by allowing them to expand faster, improve cash flow, and weather dry periods.
2. Outsourcing Expertise and Core Services
Another trend in 2016 is the move toward outsourcing expertise.
This is a key part of creating lean companies and allows your business to only pay for exactly the services it needs when it needs them rather than hiring people with those expertise.
This often means that many small businesses rely more on freelancers or companies providing business-to-business services.
This trend will also see a move toward on-demand logistics with warehousing and logistics outsourced to other firms.
This allows small businesses to stay lean rather than build out unnecessary and costly infrastructure, teams and systems.
3. The Reign of Millennials
In 2016, you will see the continued rise of the millennial demographic.
As more Millennials graduate and enter the workforce, your company will have to figure out how to attract, recruit, and motivate your Millennial workers best.
To win the war for Millennial talent, it’s important that you adjust your HR practices and create benefits that are particularly attractive to Millennial employees like student loan repayment assistance.
In addition, millennials will continue to take over a larger percentage of your customer base. Be ready to rethink your marketing and product offerings in order to better suit and attract millennial consumers.
4. Climbing Interest Rates
In December, the Federal Reserve signaled a change in interest rate policies by increasing their target funds rate a quarter of a percent.
This signals a significant change in policy and likely implies that the interest rates will continue to increase over the next few years.
That means that 2016 is likely the last chance to lock in a low interest-rate if your company plans on borrowing.
So, if you're considering making a major investment in the next few years, 2016 might be the year.
5. The Uncertainty of the Election
Like most election years, 2016 will be dominated by talk about the election. That means there will likely be a significant amount of uncertainty for small businesses.
Depending on who wins the nomination for the two parties and who wins the general election, it could mean significantly different outcomes for your business.
2016 will be a time for your company to prepare in order to be well-positioned to embrace change no matter who ends up in the White House next year.
Another hallmark of an election year is a dearth in new legislation. Depending on what field of business you’re in, this could be good or bad.
6. Cyber Security
Many small businesses have likely heard of some of high-profile corporate hacks that have been perpetrated in recent years on big businesses.
But small businesses are not immune to these dangerous incursions on cyber security. Protect your company and your data by making 2016 the year that you prioritize cyber security.
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7. New Marketing Channels
Another big change for small business in 2016 is the opening of new digital marketing channels that allow businesses to shift how they advertise.
2016 will likely see the maturation of location-based mobile marketing. And, Facebooks ads are getting difficult.
Your business will be able to offer customers special deals or coupons when they are within your vicinity.