Now that the recession is “officially” over, what can small businesses expect in 2011?
Here are 11 trends to guide you through the upcoming year:
1. Demand for your business will increase.
With a now growing economy, a stable stock market, and “less bad” nightly news, this is the year your sales increase. Flat revenue is no longer the new up. If your business is solving a "pain" and can find customers that have the money, your company will thrive. In a growing $14 trillion U.S. economy, you can find new customers if you sell painkillers.
2. Government sector spending will remain high.
Although our elected officials are concerned about the growing national deficit, they are more concerned about not raising taxes and providing jobs over the next two years. Find a way for your small business to get involved in the government spending that will occur in 2011.
3. Credit stays tight.
Don’t depend on traditional financing sources to be able to grow your business. Bank credit will remain low and diligent tracking of your account receivable payments will be critical. Where possible, get your money up front from your customers. New credit card offers are finally coming in the mail again, but use them as temporary source of cash not permanent lines of credit.
4. Employment will remain weak.
It will still be an employers’ market in 2011. Get the people you need now to grow your business at fairly low salary rates, as compared to three years ago. Now is the time to create loyal and gratified employees that will help your business for years.
5. Health insurance rates will stabilize.
With the passage of the new health care bill, insurance companies are trying to figure out how to charge with the new rules in place. Look for premium percentage increases to be less (in the teens instead of the twenties), but the plans will be different enough, so you'll need to spend an entire day figuring out what the best plan is your company and family.
6. Interest rates will remain low.
If your business has good credit and relationships with a bank, you will be able to borrow more money at low rates this year. Now may also be a good time to buy real estate for your business, which in some parts of the country is at a ten year low.
7. Angel investments will increase.
With traditional investment and savings rates being very low (at 1 percent interest, your investment takes 72 years to double), angels are being more aggressive in finding investments for a bigger financial return. This is coupled with the increasing state tax benefits of making this type of angel investment. A listing of many local angel organizations can be found at the Angel Capital Association.
8. Customer service is the new marketing.
Small business owners used to be afraid that a dissatisfied customer would tell seven people of the negative experience. Now, through social media sites, they can tell seven million people. Raving fans can now be your biggest source of new business, as they will tell everyone how great your company is.
9. A record number of “solopreneur” businesses will be created.
As unemployment remains at high levels, more people will be forced to string multiple lines of work to support their family. People will work in loose freelance confederations that will change with a variety of projects. This is also being fueled by Gen-Yers who, without steady job offers, are looking for increasing flexibility.
10. Increasing pressure from “anywhen”:
As Chris Brogan discussed, we can now work anywhere and anytime we want. This puts increasing pressure on all business people to merge their personal and professional life and be available 24/7. To keep your sanity, look for places and times in 2011 that are work free zones and an oasis from anywhen.
11. There is an app for that!
...or at least there better be. If business with your company can’t be done on a mobile phone, then rethink your approach. Create a website or widget that can easily be used anywhen.
What trends are you watching for 2011?
Barry Moltz gets small business owners unstuck. With decades of entrepreneurial ventures as well as consulting countless other entrepreneurs, he has discovered the formula to get business owners marching forward. His predictions are usually 51 percent accurate.