OTHER • January 2, 2015
3 minutes Read
By Gene Marks
Small business influencer Gene Marks is a guest blogger for CAN Capital. He is a celebrated author, columnist and small business owner.
I’ve interviewed and met thousands of small- and medium-sized business owners across the country during just the past few years alone. I have found that there is one thing that separates those that survive and those that succeed. The ones who survive are looking ahead 30 days. The ones that succeed are looking out over a year. They are making decisions based on today’s facts and that will affect their businesses many months out. Going into 2015, here are a few things that smart business owners not only know, but are planning for.
Taxes are going up. Congress recently passed a “tax extender” bill which gave tax breaks to individuals and small businesses through the end of 2014. None of those breaks, such as the research and development credit or the very popular accelerated depreciation deduction carry over into 2015. There is talk of tax reform and tweaks, but nothing is certain for now. What is certain is that taxes are going to go up in 2015. Smart business owners are meeting with their accountants early in 2015 to plan for this.
Employee pay will be going up. For years, inflation has hovered at historical lows. Now, even with the recent decline in gas prices, other costs are starting to creep up – not significantly, but noticeably. More importantly, the economy has improved and the job market is heating up. This means that your employees who have been working hard to keep their jobs are now going to feel emboldened to ask for more compensation for their hard-earned services. And they can do this with the confidence of opportunities elsewhere. You will need to address this head on with your key employees – offering higher pay or, if you can, other non-cash perks like working from home, vacation days or wellness programs to keep them happy. It’s all still compensation though and it will all go up in 2015.
You will be moving further into the cloud. Like it or not, technology will be further taking your business into the cloud in 2015. For the technology industry, the benefits are enormous: higher profits, monthly cash flow and easier data management. But you’ll see benefits too – more manageable cash flow, access from anywhere, integration with other systems and (believe it or not) better security. You will likely consider a customer relationship management (CRM) system because it’s extremely popular with small businesses and you will ultimately find yourself moving your accounting system from that computer in the store room to a web-based or remotely-managed system in the cloud.
Access to capital will be at its highest levels since before the last recession. If you want to grow in 2015, capital will be available. Interest rates remain historically low. Traditional banks are looking to lend, though many may not lend to smaller companies if it means a higher level of regulatory hurdles. But that’s still OK, companies like CAN Capital have plenty of working capital options available, and the micro-lending industry will continue to grow throughout the year. In addition, crowdfunding will grow as an important source of cash for inventors and entrepreneurs, and a ruling in crowdfunding for equity purposes may come from the SEC this year (although the agency seems under no pressure to do anything just yet). Private capital from investors and venture capitalists will continue to be readily available for startups and entrepreneurs.
You will become an expert in healthcare reform. For employers with more than 100 people, affordable healthcare insurance will become a requirement in 2015. That number goes down to 50 in 2016. Regardless of your size, the healthcare exchanges will continue to grow and every business will have reporting requirements to the government. Your employees will be coming to you for advice and help. You’ll need to understand the ins and outs of the various options. All of this will impact your business in the years to come.
Your optimistic outlook will be validated. At the end of this past year there were many surveys that pointed towards optimism amongst small businesses in 2015 (one of them was CAN Capital’s Small Business Health Index). And there is good reason for this. The economy just had its best quarter in years. Cost and interest rates, though growing, remain historically low. Technology is inexpensive and capital is available. Your sales will likely grow in 2015. And best of all, with Congress held by Republicans and the White House in control of Democrats, there will be no enormous legislative tidal waves planned until the next Presidential election.
Want to succeed in 2015? Then start thinking about 2016. That’s what smart business owners are doing today. And they’re basing their longer term plans on most of the above eventualities.