With 2018 just underway, plenty of small businesses are curious about what the year will have in store. Experts like Charley Moore, CEO and founder of Rocket Lawyer have been around for long enough to spot trends early on that might make an impact on the business world going forward.
2018 Small Business Predictions
Moore recently shared some of his predictions for 2018 in an email interview with Small Business Trends. Here are some of the major areas where small businesses might want to take note.
Businesses Will Make Adjustments Based on Tax Code Changes
Even though the recently passed tax code changes won’t take effect right away, they’re likely to have major implications for businesses going forward. And those that pay attention could find some new ways to benefit.
Moore explains, “Most small business owners have their eyes fixed on the tax package that was enacted before the holidays. This has been a hot-button issue for a while and will continue to be as businesses of all sizes have been vocal about their approval or disapproval on this bill and what it means for the American people and business owners.
“While a lot of the changes in the tax code will not take effect until 2019, I think we will see small business owners making preparations in their corporate structures, hiring and accounting practices in order to stay compliant with the IRS. In particular, with the lower corporate tax rates, more self-employed and sole proprietors may seek to incorporate.
“Each year Rocket Lawyer surveys its small business community and year-over-year the number one legal concern is not understanding, or being able to comply with, changing government regulations. Since this is the most impactful tax change that we’ve seen since 1986, you can bet small business owners will be consulting with their accountants and tax attorneys for counsel on how to understand the changes and how they can take advantage of the tax breaks it offers their business.”
Adoption of Cryptocurrencies Will Continue
Moore says, “One of the biggest tech trends of 2017 was the rising application of blockchain technology and the skyrocketing value of cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum. I predict this adoption will continue both for businesses implementing blockchain tools and accepting this new form of payment.
“What’s more, I believe that small businesses will soon have simple solutions available from technology vendors they already use, to accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment. For example, companies like Coinbase are already making it easy to convert Bitcoin it to cash and deposit in the bank.
“Additionally, processing fees, on average, are less than a credit card; every transaction is final (meaning a customer cannot dispute a charge made with cryptocurrencies).
“And, it’s global, so it can be used with customers abroad without going through a currency converter (and the fluctuating fees surrounding that). Innovative small businesses that want to have an edge over their competition will begin to accept this form of payment in 2018.”
Machine Learning Will Make Its Mark on Business Research
Machine learning has already started making an impact on the business world. But Moore believes that more small businesses in particular will begin understanding the benefits that the technology can have in terms of processing feedback and researching customers.
Moore explains, “This is an exciting new development in technology for small businesses. The data-driven insights that machine learning can provide will help SMBs understand their customer base and drive growth in ways never before possible.
“Small businesses, on the whole, don’t have the extra funds to do extensive market research, focus groups or in-depth studies, but through the data that can be gathered from online feedback, they can get a clear picture into customers likes, dislikes wants and needs, and then be able to make actionable changes that will help foster happy, long-lasting customers as well as attract new ones.”
Businesses Will Get Even More Online Platform Options
Businesses already have tons of options for connecting with customers online. But 2018 could bring even more social media platforms, online marketplaces and other channels.
Moore says, “There are more channels for small business owners to attract new customers, whether it be through social media or online marketplaces like Amazon to Etsy, these channels will continue to grow, plus new ones inevitably will spring up to provide avenues for small business growth.
More Millennials Will Start Businesses
Finally, millennials have already started making an impact on the workforce. But Moore believes that influence will shift into the world of entrepreneurship more than ever in the coming year.
He adds, “Millennials are the largest working demographic on the planet and they are changing the entire work experience. This group demands a more flexible work schedule, where remote work is key, and they are eager to try out new work responsibilities and not be caged in by one position.
“Now that this group has been in the workforce and gained confidence and professional experience, we’re going to start to see them branch out and try ventures on their own. I’m excited to see what new markets they will create and what new opportunities will spring up because of it.”
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