2018: The Earthquake for SMBs

SMB owner manages laptop and phone in cafe

 

Every year brings transformation, but this one is shaping up to be chalked full of new things for small businesses. While some of these are simply a change in perspective, many of these changes also include policy shifts and new, more efficient ways of getting work done. As a small business, you want to be ahead of the curve and more, to be prepared.

So, take a look. Here are some of the biggest changes you’ll see for small businesses in 2018:

— One-off technologies no longer need to be a money suck:

With any company, bandwidth and cost savings are paramount to success. This is especially true when you’re a small to medium-sized business. In the past, ensuring that workers were communicating effectively often required a number of disparate apps— including separate functionalities like messaging, video conferencing, tasking, document collaboration, etc. This was not only expensive and cumbersome (think 7 different logins at $100-150/month/person), it dispersed data throughout a variety of channels, making it difficult to retrieve information.

In 2018, businesses will see a continued shift towards a more consolidated approach, with a notable increase in the number of companies using all-in-one software. In terms of communication, this will mean using apps that have a myriad of functionalities with one login, in one place, at one price. The result of this swing? A means of collaboration that costs less, saves time and brings the most important communication functionalities together in one platform.

— Tax changes:

President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law last December, with most of the law’s changes taking effect in January. While most small businesses won’t reap the benefits during this tax season, they’ll shortly see some new reforms begin to take hold. According to Business News Daily, the benefits for many companies, including small businesses, are fairly straightforward.

“Under this new plan, a business’s taxable income would be reduced by 20 percent,” the Business News Daily article states. “The hope is that this deduction will provide small businesses with some financial breathing room – this will allow business owners to reinvest that saved money back into their businesses by buying new equipment, hiring new workers or expanding operations.”

Not only does this mean more money back into the pockets of businesses, it could potentially equate to a stretch of economic growth in the United States.

— Net neutrality:

The repeal of net neutrality could mean extra challenges for small businesses. One of the biggest? Seeing your website treated very differently from other sites, namely, those with more money. In case you’re not familiar, Entrepreneur explains the premise simply:

“Net neutrality refers to the idea that internet service providers should grant equal access to everything on the internet, regardless of website content or the source of a particular website. The fact is, net neutrality puts both small business owners and large [corporations] on the same playing field by offering the same opportunities when it comes to the internet. This helps small businesses gain ground on larger competitors.”

The problem for small businesses, then, is one of access. With the regulations that net neutrality provided now gone, internet service providers (ISP) can choose not to treat all website traffic equally.

For example, should an ISP decide that they want to charge a substantial dollar amount for business websites to load quickly for consumers, preference would be given to those that can pay. This would present a major problem, especially if a company had invested in their SEO and content efforts. Not only does this automatically give the upper hand to bigger businesses with larger budgets, it would make it so that consumers going to a small business’s website could have a less than stellar site experience.

A recent Impact article sums it up nicely. In other words, ISPs could control market winners and losers, as well as increase fees for high speeds and faster usage.

— Freelancers and the remote workforce will continue to grow:

There are currently over 100 million remote workers in America alone, and the numbers are growing. In the past, going to work meant heading to the same office as your coworkers every day, with a set start and finish time. But off-site employees with their own unique schedules are on the rise, a trend that will only become more mainstream in 2018.

Companies that understand this, and the true benefits of offering their employees this kind of flexibility, will keep leading the way. Today, many workers prefer to do their jobs from home, coffee shops, or even from across the world. While this has obvious benefits for employees, it can also hold a number of positives for small businesses, including an increased talent pool, lower operational costs and happier workers.

However, to ensure that employees and their companies can successfully navigate remote working agreements this year, it’s imperative that there is a solid foundation of communication and collaboration. To accomplish this, many small businesses have invested in comprehensive tools, ensuring that everything from tasks to files to video conferencing is available anywhere, any time. As mentioned above, this approach can save companies money by cutting back on fees for a multitude of communication apps, as well as give remote workers everything they need to do their jobs well, from anywhere.

2018 can be full of change and promise

This year will hold a number of perks and challenges for small businesses. However, with the right outlook and tools, 2018 can be a year of efficiency, positive shifts and growth.

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Roberto Guerrieri is the Chief Marketing Officer of Bolste, the all-in-one Digital Work Hub built for small businesses. Bolste incorporates business messaging, video conferencing, unlimited file storage & task management that can be used anywhere, with one login, at one low price.