What will 2013 bring for small business? Reviewing my 2012 predictions, my success rate was over 80 percent, but 2013 is a tougher year to predict than last. Below are predictions from Barry Moltz, AE Open Forum’s 2013 predictions as well as ways small-business owners can take advantage of each of them:
1. The economy will grow … slowly. Quarterly GDP growth of about 2.5 percent becomes the new normal.
What it means to small business: Small-business owners can no longer use the economy as an excuse for their business. In this $14 trillion economy, every company can find a few additional customers if they do systematic marketing.
2. Washington will remain deadlocked. Long after this round of political brinksmanship over the fiscal cliff is over, the federal government will get little else done this year.
What it means to small business: Small-business owners should not depend on federal or state governments for aid to fund any phase of their business.
3. Banks will increase their lending. If a small business can show assets and a profit, then a bank loan may be possible.
What it means to small business: Keep financials up to date and approach banks before funds are needed. Community banks still are most likely to lend to small businesses.
4. There will be more sources to find funding. Sources for funding a company will extend beyond savings, friends, families and banks. The Start Up America Act will make it easier for anyone to invest in a business anywhere in the country.
What it means to small business: Original crowdsourcing sites like IndieGogo and Kickstarter will be eclipsed by sites that can give small-business owners real cash like Microventures and Circle Up.
5. Unemployment will dip. The rate will settle in at about 7 percent by the middle of the year.
What it means to small business: This means little to small-business owners, since the good people are already taken. Finding the right employee for the job will remain a challenge in 2013.
6. Stock markets will go up. In 2012, the market gained over 7 percent. This will level off to 3 percent in 2013.
What it means for small business: Without the huge gyrations in the market, the news media will not scare off consumers, which will be a welcome relief for any small business.
7. Housing prices will continue to increase. The largest asset of most Americans will finally see a real increase in value. Look for the median increase to be 10 percent in the coming year in previously hard hit areas.
What it means for small business: Small-business homeowners will once again have an opportunity to use the equity in their houses as a source of borrowed capital. Americans used over $100 billion of borrowed equity in 2012.
8. The “daily deal” will die. Merchants stop offering their services at a discount with these sites since it wipes out their margins and does not bring new full paying customers in the door.
What it means to small business: In 2013, this will be a tough transition for the consumer, since 50 percent off had become the new full price.
9. Social media adds real money to gaming. With every business making contests and games out of what they sell, companies like Betable will take the next step to create betting games (where it’s legal) and add wagering to social media. The Department of Justice has been easing its stance in all areas except sports gambling.
What it means to small business: There are many opportunities for small-business owners in this $68 billion industry.
10. Cannabis entrepreneurship starts smoking. The war on drugs is over. With the states of Washington and Colorado legalizing pot smoking for recreational use, new startups will become common place in these states. The Department of Justice will not pursue these cases even though it is still against federal law.
What it means to small business: New areas surrounding this business from products to accessories to venues will develop. Some forecast that legalizing pot could bring in close to $10 billion in tax revenue annually.
11. Weird weather becomes normal. Bizarre weather will continue to be felt around the U.S., with more damage to homeowners and businesses.
What it means to small business: The number-one gift for small-business owners this year was a generator. All entrepreneurs need to be prepared for the next disaster. In turn, business opportunities for preparedness and backup services will abound.
12. People ditch their checkbooks. Consumers and small-business owners will write and accept a record low amount of checks in 2013.
What it means to small business: Get ready to accept payment online and by phone. Bitcoins will make an inroad into American commerce.
13. Forget annual performance reviews. This has become a thing of the past and will be phased out in progressive companies this year.
What it means to small business: Start having spontaneous performance conversations with employees on an ongoing basis so communication becomes a constant two-way street, not just an annual event.