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Ringing in the New Year: 4 Optimistic Predictions for Small Biz

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It’s been a whirlwind year for small businesses. From welcomed economic recovery to immigration reform to further implementation of the Affordable Care Act, there was hardly a dull moment. Amidst the chaos, however, a majority of small business owners report they experienced growth that met or exceeded their expectations in 2014, and 80 percent are confident that 2015 will be even better!

Cautious Optimism, Further Growth
While the majority of small business owners believe their enterprise will grow in the new year, 29 percent say building their online business presence continues to give them pause, and 14 percent say that hiring and retaining talent is a significant worry.

Despite these lingering concerns, small business owners have an optimist outlook overall thanks to their strong fiscal performance in 2014. As a result, they plan to reinvest in their businesses in four main ways to spur even further growth in the new year.

1. The Rise of Solo Entrepreneurs. Say hello to the “solo entrepreneur”: Small businesses across the country are reporting an uptick in the hiring of non-traditional, independent contractors vs. traditional, full-time employees. If this sounds like a good direction for your business, consider recruiting Millennials. A recent Millennial Branding report found that 45 percent of Millennials will choose workplace flexibility over higher pay.

2. Eyes on the Online Prize. After last year’s revival of love for local business, it’s no surprise that small businesses — especially those still operating as traditional brick-and-mortar pillars of local communities — plan to focus on enhancing their online presence by putting more resources into marketing and brand reputation. Considering taking the plunge into the world of Yelp, Twitter, and FourSquare? Check out our tips on best practices for local marketing and social media etiquette from last year’s Local Lift Tour.

3. New Year, New Technology. Small business owners continue to prove their tech-savvy chops by exploring new technologies to bolster customer experiences and benefit their bottom line. Mobile payments, in particular, are on the rise. According to a Forrester report, mobile-based payments that cater to small businesses, like Square, are expected to reach $142 billion in volume by 2019. Small businesses are also employing mobile in other ways, with almost a third using sharing economy apps for their business. The most frequently used application is ridesharing (20%), followed by social media, Google apps, and Waze.

4. Two Heads are Better Than One. The biggest legal issues small businesses experienced this past year are contract negotiations and collecting payments, and their biggest legal concern moving forward is not complying with government regulations (we don’t blame you!). Luckily, 40 percent have sought out a mentor and 46 percent have consulted with a lawyer for the betterment of their business. Let’s get that up to 100 percent in 2015! It’s never been easier with affordable, expert advice available through SCORE’s free mentoring program and our very own Ask A Lawyer service.

What are you looking forward to in 2015? Let us know in the comments!

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