My husband and I are also small business owners, and know the ups and downs.
This is a good article to relate to.
here is general optimism amongst small business owners for what the year 2014 holds in store. Although the Affordable Care Act presents some new challenges and expenses for companies and Congressional gridlock concerns business owners, there are some big opportunities for entrepreneurs in the New Year.
One exciting feature of 2014 is the increasing availability of capital. Banks are slowly offering more credit for company start-ups after recovering from bad investments in the last decade.
Perhaps more exciting is the opportunity for raising funds through the Internet and finding investors through programs such as “Kickstarter.” It’s becoming easier for entrepreneurs with great ideas to get capital invested in their projects. There are more and more entrepreneurs entering the market as well thanks to a growing trend in education to offer degrees and expertise on entrepreneurship. Universities have classes to teach the values and skills that accomplished entrepreneurs have found essential to succeed in the enterprise while new secondary educational institutions have been formed to offer education strictly related to the pursuit of starting up businesses.
The result of this is a flood of labor into the market better prepared than previous generations to start businesses or assist in the production of small operations. For many existing businesses, there are still major untapped technological advances that can provide some major boosts in 2014.
First is still social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Some small businesses get overly caught up blogging and tweeting to the detriment of actually producing the products that social media is intended to help sell. However, these online communities offer a means by which businesses can interact with their customers and build relationships which will encourage customers to return for more products. If you have products which make for good visual advertising, then there is little better than Pinterest or Instagram for getting free advertising amongst large platforms.
Customer service, interaction, and relationship has long been a key to the ability of small businesses to triumph over larger companies and social media offers new and exciting opportunities to make that a reality. Twitter and Facebook ads have also grown considerably in value after Facebook’s early stock plunges. Due to changes in the way ads are delivered to customers, last year’s adages about the lack of marketability for these sites have fallen by the wayside and up to date companies are taking advantage of cheap and targeted ad buys on the social media platforms.
Then there are apps, which are rapidly multiplying. If for some reason you can’t find the perfect apps that will assist you and your employees you can have them designed for you. Some business owners and managers simply haven’t thought through the potential apps can have in creating efficiency. If you have mobile employees who are visiting clients or making sales, do you have apps that allow them to access the company’s information and resources away from the office?
It’s easy to get bogged down in apps and overload your employees with the constant need to familiarize with different technology. However, used in moderation apps remain a relatively new strategy for small businesses in order to become sleeker and more efficient. With the technological revolution there are also new challenges for the New Year. Hackers are becoming more and more common and they are taking down sites, stealing customer information, and scaring customers away from smaller sites’ online retail options.
Yet there are opportunities here also, for the savvy small businessman. Having your website audited for risk and protecting your sites may come at a cost but doing so can give you a competitive advantage if you are safer and can offer more security to customers than your competitors. Particularly if you have the kind of security you can promote to your clients without fear of inviting attack on a suspect system.
There are major changes afoot in the way business is done thanks to the increasing use of mobile devices and the Internet in daily affairs. As 2013 did, 2014 still offers great opportunities for small businesses thanks to increasing access to credit, a savvier workforce, and the frontiers of the Internet.
Ian Daniel writes for Insureon, a great small business insurance company.
You can find out more at insureon.com.