Five Big Small Business Trends

The daily grind of running a business is demanding, but it sometimes pays to take a step back and look at the big picture.

There are trends and developments that can impact the success of your business. You can’t change them, but you can make sure you’re aware of what’s going on, and then take whatever action benefits your company most.

Small Business Trend #1: Political Activism

Taxation. Regulations. Immigration policy. The courts. IRS. OSHA.

Business owners come from all parts of the political spectrum, but they all presumably share the common goal of making their companies succeed and grow.

If there were ever a time for small businesses to be active in the political process, that time is now. Smaller businesses don’t typically have the resources to engage in full-scale lobbying or issue advocacy programs, but there are other options.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses, Small Business Advocacy Council, and US Chamber of Commerce (Council on Small Business) all operate with the purpose of representing the interest of small businesses in Washington D.C. and in state capitals.

These groups advocate pro-small business positions relative to taxes, energy policy, healthcare reform, labor and a long list of other issues.

In addition, many industries have active trade associations that represent their member companies on matters important to them at the federal and state levels. These organizations vary widely in both their degree of activism and political clout.

Small Business Trend #2: Alternative Funding Sources

Securing bank lending, in terms of both conventional loans and lines of credit, remains a tough proposition for many small companies.

As a result, resourceful business owners are finding different ways to get the money they need, and will likely continue to do so in the future.

Peer-to-peer funding, “angel” investor funding, invoice factoring, purchase order financing, and other options will continue to grow, as companies get more and more creative in finding cash to operate and grow.

Not every option is right for every company, but you should investigate every potential alternative that might work for you.

Small Business Trend #3: “Eurozone” Uncertainty

Spain and Greece are still in serious economic trouble, and it may take years before it’s all sorted out.

Granted, if your company is involved with either country’s economy at a significant level, you have probably already taken steps to minimize the damage.

But it’s worth mentioning that, in the global economy, every business is impacted by the situation’s effects on interest rates, lending, currency exchange rates, international travel, and import and export activity.

Proceed with caution before engaging in any activity with a high degree of exposure to this region.

Small Business Trend #4: China

Ignore China at your peril.

Already a global economic superpower, China shows no signs of slowing down and will remain a force for years to come.

Certainly the export possibilities are appealing, and there are numerous consultants and advisory firms that can show you how you can distribute your products – and offer certain services – there.

But often overlooked is the Chinese economy’s emerging role as a potential investment engine. Investment syndicates, venture capital firms and private equity companies based in China are starting to make their presences felt.

Opportunities for smaller companies might be limited at first, but businesses in the right industries – IT, polymers, medical supplies – could be good candidates for investment.

Small Business Trend #5: Medical and Healthcare Issues

No surprise here. No matter what eventually happens to the Affordable Healthcare Act, medical insurance – and its related costs – will continue to be a concern for small businesses. There’s no doubt that employer-sponsored health insurance will continue to a front-burner issue. (Premiums climbed, on average, between 7% and 8% annually between 2008 and 2012.)

Wellness programs, increased employee expense-sharing, and a move toward employee-directed plans are all possible options for holding down costs, but a one-size fits-all solution to the ever-increasing cost problem has not been uncovered.

Be sure to check MP Star Financial’s blog often for more news about small business trends and how they can affect your company.

MP Star Financial can help you get a better handle on your company’s cash flow management. Call for more information about invoice factoring. (800) 833-3765, extension 150.

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