As technology increasingly enables individuals to take unprecedented control in their lives, while also connecting the world in ways never seen before, the nearly 30 million small businesses in the U.S. are embracing changes and evolving at a rapid pace. No longer are entrepreneurs beholden to big banks for the funds to get off the ground; and leasing an office space on Main Street is no longer the default, when the global marketplace is just a few mouse clicks away. This evolution will only accelerate over the coming year.
As small businesses continue to adopt tools and technologies that speed up the pace of commerce, the top five trends they will embrace in 2016 are:
1.Small Businesses will transition from local to global
With the proliferation of new business technologies – from websites and tools like Square that enable credit card transactions anywhere, to micro funding sites and cross-border payment services – small businesses no longer exist solely in their Main Street brick-and-mortar storefronts. As Canada’s recent move to fund small-business exports shows, this trend is here to stay. The Congressional Small Business Committee estimates that 95 percent of the business purchasing market exists outside the U.S., meaning that with the right combination of means, any “mom and pop” operation has the potential to reach billions of new customers around the world.
2.SMBs get more bang for their buck with self-service tools
Self-service business tools newly available as cloud offerings will continue to expand to give small businesses options to embrace the types of offerings that large companies utilize, at a fraction of the cost of traditional formats. Tools for collaborative project management, accounting and even human resources are just the beginning of the on-cloud offerings cropping up and aimed specifically at the needs small businesses. When every penny in every line item counts toward profitability, SMBs will opt for the more affordable a la carte options that most closely meet their specific needs.
3.Simplicity will win out
The life of a small business owner is a busy one, where the CEO is often also the CFO, CTO and CMO. And as small businesses increasingly go global, that trend is only going to accelerate. With so much on their plates, these “executives” must opt for simplicity whenever possible: intuitive billing programs (Bill.com), one-click inventory systems (SOS Inventory), seamless credit processing options (Stripe, Braintree). As more competitors begin to crowd the SMB service space, it will be the simplest, most easily integrated ones that win users’ favor – and ultimately win out.
4.Outsourcing becomes accessible to all
While large companies – the General Motors and AT&Ts of the world – have long been known for outsourcing operations outside of the U.S., that capability is finally trickling down to businesses with smaller bottom lines. New options for oversees payments, off-site HR providers and even day-to-day tasks like data entry are among the tools that will give small businesses more access in 2016 than ever to the overseas services that offer the competitive advantage of a global talent pool.
5.The strength of the U.S. dollar will shift supply/demand trends
Recent economic turmoil in Asia, South America and other markets is putting the dollar at an advantage it hasn’t seen in years. With this new currency strength bolstering buying power – not to mention the $30 per barrel cost of oil lowering transport costs to shocking lows –American businesses will look abroad for most cost-effective suppliers of not only labor, but materials and products. However, this plus can also turn into a minus by making American-made goods more expensive for overseas markets to purchase.