For the past 6 years, Small Business Labs, from Emergent Research, has compiled a list of the top 10 trends to look for in a given year (for 2013, in the areas of technology, economics, social, and health care). This year, Small Business Labs predicts continued moderate growth in small business markets, with the U.S. GDP increasing a half of a percent, from 2.25% to 2.75%. Likewise, the expectation is for increased hiring and falling unemployment rates (with a predicted unemployment rate at year’s end to be anywhere from 6.8% to 7.2%). Here are the top 10 trends predicted for small businesses in 2013.
- The data and analytics revolution is going to benefit small businesses. This means 2013 will see many more small businesses taking advantage of cloud-based data and analytical tools to glean meaningful insights into customers and markets to improve business results.
- Small businesses will cater more to smartphones, tablets, and cloud computing. This includes making websites more mobile-device friendly and developing more convenient ways to serve customers using these tools.
- Available resources and tools will make it easier for solopreneurs and the self-employed to launch and operate their businesses. This includes everything from the growth of online marketplaces like Elance to increased government programs and support, and more solopreneur-oriented commercial workspaces.
- Mobile commerce models will take off. A variety of industries (from personal service firms to retailers) will see the advantages in going directly to their customers, including lower costs, increased flexibility, and higher levels of customer satisfaction.
- More opportunities will be found in the Midwest. Several factors are contributing to this economic renaissance, including a rising demand for commodities, an energy boom taking place in this area of the country, lower costs of doing business, and the rebirth of U.S. services and manufacturing.
- Angel investing trends will slow. Although there has been a boom in Angel investing over the past couple of years, this is expected to wane this year. A freeze in traditional funding combined with intense startup competition is expected to result in the failure of many Angel-back firms.
- The small manufacturing sector will continue to grow. This is driven by 5 trends currently going strong: technology and variable cost business models enabling small manufacturer success, rising overseas costs, stronger export opportunities, growing opportunities afforded by the Internet and online systems, and growing demand for customized and niche products on both a local and global scale.
- Personal services and time management industries will expand. Time will continue to be a scarce commodity, creating great opportunities for those businesses that focus on enhancing time management skills or providing services to eliminate mundane, time-consuming tasks.
- “Showrooming” trends continue to expand. “Showrooming” refers to the consumer habit of visiting stores to see a product and then buying elsewhere or online. Smart phones and other mobile technologies are accelerating this trend, as they give consumer real-time information on the quality and pricing of products and services.
- Health care planning will become a major focus. Most major Obamacare provisions are set to go into effect in 2014, so 2013 will be a year of gearing up for these changes. Even owners of smaller firms (less than 50 employees) will need to review their coverage and possibly make adjustments.
King, Steve. “Top 10 Small Business Trends for 2013.” Small Business Labs. 1/15/13.