Survey, Business Experts Reveal Small Business Plans, Challenges for 2018

A survey in late 2017 found most small business owners plan to hire one or two new employees in 2018. And 80 percent of the 1,300 entrepreneurs who responded to the Microsoft/SurveyMonkey “Small Business Insights” survey said they had a good work-life balance.

While, overall, business owners may be confident about the year ahead, the survey revealed that many will need to focus on preparing for changes in technology and cybersecurity. Only 49 percent of seasoned business owners said they were staying ahead of evolving technology. For businesses less than a year old, budget constraints were the main obstacle in keeping up with technology, with only 37 percent of respondents saying they were staying ahead of changes. Among all businesses, half were unconcerned about data breaches.

Technology and Small Business

Small business owners who don’t think data breaches are a threat are putting themselves at great risk, because in 2016, 43 percent of hacking attacks targeted small businesses. The cost of a data breach that captures sensitive information about customers can be between $84,000 and $148,000, according to Kabbage, a technology firm that connects small businesses with capital.

In 2018, small businesses may be looking to strengthen their cybersecurity. Small firms might not have the capital to hire a full-time information technology expert, but outsourcing IT security tasks to a reputable company could be an affordable solution.

According to the National Federation of Independent Business, this year, entrepreneurs should be thinking about the future – specifically the year 2020, when a projected 56 percent of consumers will be using mobile payment technology exclusively. The NFIB recommends small businesses become “early adopters” of mobile wallet systems like Apple Pay, rather than react to the growth of such technology in a few years.

Hiring Trends

The Microsoft/SurveyMonkey survey did not specify what type of employees small businesses intend to hire this year, but one executive anticipates an increase in small businesses hiring “contingent” workers – those who are temporary or freelance.

Contingent employees allow for a scalable workforce, which is ideal for owners that have fluctuating revenue or seasonal businesses. Hiring contract workers may also help reduce overall costs associated with benefits and taxes. (Business owners should make sure they get legal advice before hiring contract workers, as the Internal Revenue Service has in recent years begun scrutinizing such arrangements; if the IRS believes an employer has misclassified an employee as a contractor, the penalties can be steep.)

The Outlook for 2018

Overall, the small business outlook for 2018 seems promising, yet business owners should always prepare for the worst. Diversifying investments and revenue streams can help entrepreneurs weather any hiccups in the economy.

Lusk Law, LLC, helps business owners prepare for the future. Our experienced legal team has provided counsel and representation to business owners in Montgomery County, Frederick County, Howard County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Carroll County, Washington County, Anne Arundel County, and other counties in Maryland. Please call us at 443-535-9715 or fill out our contact form if you need legal guidance for your business.

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