This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Microsoft Office . All opinions are 100% mine.
There are always trends to watch out for in business every year. 2016 has the potential to be particularly challenging for small business owners. Here’s what I mean.
An aging baby boomer population, increasing numbers of demanding millennials in the workplace, increasingly costly consumer demands, and severe changes to current labor and cybersecurity laws will all hit SMB owners the hardest as the year wears on.
But hey, challenges are there to be solved, right? That said, let’s take this post to spot potential challenges and opportunities, so that you can plan accordingly and navigate your business to stay on the right track.
1. Hiring quality talent will continue to become more difficult, but hidden gems are more valuable than ever
As the economy continues to climb and the last of the “bratty” millennials flood into the job market this year, hiring quality talent will become increasingly challenging.
There are many sides to this Rubik’s cube of a problem for small businesses:
- Talent is demanding higher wages and better benefits packages.
- Leading to increasing recruitment and contract costs.
- Management costs tend to rise as better-educated, more experienced managers are needed to oversee this modern digital-driven workforce.
- Many government regulations are changing this year in favor of employees including minimum wage increases, amendments to current USDOL overtime rules (which mostly benefit lower-paying small businesses), and mandatory paid sick leave policies continuing to spread from state to state – among others.
On the other side, there are always “hidden gems” on the job market – those who are the missing pieces of your business’ puzzle. Finding them is tough, but when you finally find it, you’ll know that it’s the match made in heaven.
2. Consumer expectations will rise in leaps and bounds
There’s so many demands that will be placed on small businesses by consumers in 2016 and beyond. From the all-to-familiar pricing competition that exists between SMBs and the more financially well-equipped big business, to requiring businesses to make their product lines available for online purchase.
Free expedited shipping will also continue to be a must as retailers fight to get a piece of the pie already dominated by Amazon and other big business retailers who offer fast and free shipping to consumers.
SMB owners who ignore these and other demands won’t be able to compete if they stick to their old ways. Modern customers want things fast, hassle-free and without having to leave the comfort of their home.
The good news is, you can respond to the challenges by focusing on depth, not width: Instead of investing in drones to compete with Amazon’s, it’s a better use of your tight budget to focus on offering localized and personalized services that Amazon and the likes can’t.
3. Cybersecurity will become a must for businesses of any size
We live, work and do business in a full-on digital world. There are many aspects of digital data security to consider this year. This includes retail storefronts, offline service providers and the multitude of SaaS providers cropping up all over the web. As data theft technology catches up with cybersecurity best practices, the book is continually being rewritten – and someone has to pay for all this innovation too!
With the growth potential offered to all businesses born in the Cloud Generation it should come as no surprise that those businesses, as well as the “digital late bloomers” who’ll have to adopt cloud technologies, apps, and online storefronts for their businesses to survive, will have to allocate more resources to protect company and consumer data this year.
I need help – where should I go?
Those trends seem pretty challenging, but to be honest with you, running a business is not easy; you need all the resources you have to make things work for you and your business – one of the latest ones is Office Small Business Academy, Microsoft Office’s initiative to provide an educational resource from small business experts about anything-small-business.
Just premiering the first webcast series, New Year, New Goals, on January 26, featuring Carol Roth, Evan Carmichael and Stowe Boyd, Office will continue to feature successful business figure in the coming series.