The economic situation in this country and various government reforms are two factors that you have absolutely no control over as a business owner. One could make the argument that you can’t control your customers either, but that isn’t really true.
Marketing and customer service can always be controlled. Most of us would like to have as many customers as possible, but you can limit how many you do business with too, if you like.
Both the uncertain economy and government changes are the two big issues facing us in the coming months.
Leading into 2014, there’s a glimmer of hope for the first time in years. The “bulls” are apparently set to rage on Wall Street (at least for the first quarter); employment is looking strong; and for the first time in history, the Federal Reserve’s “purse strings” will actually be held by a woman, Janet Yellen.
Making sense of the economic and governmental situation going into 2014:
The nation is poised to head out of the bloody “red” economy we’ve been steeped in since 2007, into the promise of a balance sheet in the “black” for the first time in 7 years. This is only what we’re being told though. Uncertainty will prevail for several years to come; perhaps forever.
Let’s examine a few of the more promising, yet frightening issues facing small business owners this year. Some are good for the people; but may not be for all small business owners – others offer a lot of promise for everyone; but will require us to change many of our standards and expectations.
1. Yellin Infusion
With Yellen at the helm, the FED is sure to help smaller communal banks to infuse cash into our nation’s biggest resource: SMB’s! She’s passionate about lowering unemployment, keeping interest rates fixed at lower rates, and seems to be committed to the type of transparency that any public authority should be held to (see more here).
Janet Yellin might just be the single biggest asset to the SMB community in 2014.
2. Obama Reform
Obamacare is just one part of this multi-pronged, SMB-stinger. If you’re not up to snuff on future changes, check out this page: http://obamacarefacts.com/obamahealthcare-summary
Admittedly, most of what’s being done is really great for all of us. However, it will mean higher costs associated with your business. Jim Blasingame predicts this to be the most pervasive reform in America for the year (source).
The Prez is also fighting to have the minimum wage raised from $7.25/hr to a whopping $10.10! While again, this would be good for the poor, it will have a significant and possible negative impact on those of you who rely on cheaper labor to run your business (read more).
E-verify is another issue that’s great for the country as a whole, but which will put a lot of SMB’s in a tight spot. For those who use cheap immigrant labor and claim ignorance when/if you’re caught, the noose is tightening even more. More government attention is being turned on the employers, instead of just focusing on the illegals themselves.
3. Potential Lending Slow Down
The government isn’t interested in bailing out any more big lenders after the 2007 hub-bub. Though Yellin will be our biggest supporter in the White House, some of the other reforms needed to keep interest rates low, and infuse more money into business will require more due-diligence measures being employed by banks and other lending institutions.
This can be bad for those with poorer credit ratings and new startups without a credit rating, but will probably help those of you whose business is in alternative lending! All the same, this is a great move for the FED and will (hopefully) ensure a stable economy in the future (see more on small business lending in 2014).
4. Mobile Technology
One element of change that’s always welcome news to business owners is the advancement of technology. Particularly in the mobile sector. First, the advancement of technology, particularly apps, will continue to make your business cheaper to run. Many companies are using apps to their advantage by requiring employees to bring their own devices (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.) to work, rather than being offered a “no expense” company devices that they can use, and even destroy at will.
Mobile marketing also brings lots of distinctive advantages, including low cost advertising methods like QR codes, social media, and the Internet as a whole (more). Mobile marketing keeps marketing your business long after you’ve cut the check for app designers, coders, etc.
5. 401(k) Amendments
Well this is a really nasty new proposed amendment that’s geared toward hammering the middle to upper class people who work in an already high tax bracket. Read more on this page about the changes: http://savemy401k.com/
If you’re not savvy to the proposed changes, visit the link in the last paragraph.
Basically, the “double tax” on 401(k) savings will change the entire landscape of employer-sponsored benefits. Not only will you have to pay more upfront when contributing; but the employee will too, and then they’ll also be taxed on their distributions down the road.
All this will make for less incentive for educated workers to use this “benefit”, and will make it harder to compete with larger corporations (who can afford to offer a more diverse incentive package) to get the most qualified workers.