Instead of writing a typical New Year prediction piece I will focus on what you should be doing as a small business owner this year, based on what’s going on in the economy and beyond.
As a disclaimer, keep in mind I am not a psychic and I do not play one on TV, so I do not guarantee the outcome of these predictions.
Prediction: Small Business Owners Will Be Guarding Their Valuable Employees
The labor market has gotten very tight, with unemployment hanging around just over 4 percent. This means that it has become an employee’s market, giving them more choices and options when it comes to employment. And, with no clear economic catalysts to immediately derail the economic or labor trains, I predict more employees will be looking for new opportunities.
This leads me to further predict that savvy small business owners will pre-empt their best and brightest employees from leaving. This means raising wages, offering more competitive benefits and perks, and of course, giving employees clear opportunities to take on more responsibilities within the business.
Related article: 6 Things Entrepreneurs Can Do to Attract and Retain Good Employees
Prediction: Small Business Owners Will Be Spending Quality Time with Their Tax Advisors
The end of the year saw the passing of tax reform and while it is touted as simplifying taxes, for small business owners, it actually makes things more complicated. If you have a C-corp, you will have new tax rates. The same goes for pass-through entities, but with all kinds of complications depending on if you are a service provider (and what service you provide), what you pay as W-2 wages to other employees and overall, how much you earn (again, varying on whether you file by yourself or with a spouse).
With that, savvy small business owners will head to their accountants early and often this year to make sure they are making tax-efficient business choices. As accountants are just getting up to speed and there are a lot of specifics related to small business in particular, business owners will want to check back often throughout the year to make sure things are on track and there are no surprises come tax time.
Use this tax guide to help inform conversations with your tax professional and advisor
Prediction: Small Business Owners Will Be Locking in Low Interest Rates on Loans
We have had an extended period of low interest rates, moderate growth and low inflation, the latter courtesy of our Federal Reserve (aka the “Fed”). However, as growth continues, I predict the Fed will continue to raise interest rates at an accelerating pace either directly and/or indirectly. Directly, they will raise rates through votes during their Fed meetings. Indirectly, as they unwind their multi-trillion-dollar balance sheet, the effect will be upward interest rate pressure.
So, with rates potentially going up, I further predict that small business owners will engage in a last hurrah and lock in low interest rates on business loans, whether that be for working capital, equipment or otherwise, while rates remain at lower levels.
Find the right financing for your business here.
Prediction: Small Business Owners Will Be Using More Cloud and AI-Based Technology
The democratization of technology continues and more and more high-level technology is becoming accessible to small business owners at affordable prices. While the cloud reigned supreme in 2017, many small business owners have yet to harness its power, and I predict they will do so in 2018 to help run their businesses more efficiently.
I also predict that AI (aka “artificial intelligence) will become more important for small business owners who will begin to embrace it for tasks ranging from chat bots to voice assistants to help with tasks that currently human assistants perform (like maintaining calendars, booking travel and reminders). Technology is providing immense opportunities for small business to do more with less and I believe with the economy on solid footing, 2018 will be the year that more small business owners start to harness that power.
So, those are my 2018 predictions. If you are a small business owner, consider getting ahead of your competition for the year by seeing how my insights might help you accelerate your growth in the twelve months ahead.
About Carol Roth
Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including
of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.
Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.