Small businesses are driving the U.S. job recovery, according to a recent blog post by Maria Contreras-Sweet, the administrator of the Small Business Administration. In her post she points out that about 7 million of the 10.9 million jobs added since the Great Recession were created by startups and small enterprises.
“Small businesses have led our comeback from the downturn,” she writes. “For 15 straight quarters, small firms have contributed to employment growth – accounting for as much as 80 percent of job gains in any given quarter.”
The past is not always an indication for what might happen next, but there are certainly reasons to believe small business growth will continue in 2015. Here are six trends that might contribute to that growth.
Alternative Capital Flows Will Gain Traction
First and foremost, small businesses need cash to grow. But the traditional lending market isn’t working for everyone. Therefore, it’s likely alternative flows of capital will gain traction in 2015, says John Spears, director of clusters and skills initiatives at the Small Business Administration. “2014 saw the emergence of new alternative flows of capital, which will continue to disrupt the market,” he says. “Square’s cash advance and new peer-to-peer lending products are a few examples.”
3D Printing Will Enable Small Batch Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has been talked about for years. But the technology finally seems to be ready for widespread adoption and small businesses might benefit from it the most. “2015 is the year where small businesses can finally afford to leverage this technology,” Spears says. “Advances in quality and cost will make small batch manufacturing possible for entrepreneurs.”
Big Data Analytics Will See Increased Adoption
Seventy-five percent of small businesses plan to increase their investment in big data analytics over the next two years, according to an IBM Business Tech Trends Study. “The pace setters will adopt new tools that allow them to quickly and easily sift through their data,” IBM’s Midmarket GM John Mason says. “The magic will be that these powerful new tools that small businesses adopt are no longer expensive solutions designed purely for data scientists and specialized analysts, but can be used by any employee.”
Small Businesses Will Enter The Internet Of Things
The Internet of Things is not just for large companies anymore. It will have an impact on even the smallest of businesses. “No longer does your company need data scientists to unlock actionable insights for your business,” Mason says. “Small businesses will turn to open application programming interfaces designed to simplify the process of accessing data from Internet-connected devices and using that data for business goals.” The result, he says, collaboration, innovation and the removal of barriers to turn ideas into businesses.
The Cloud Will Be Critical
More and more small businesses are adopting cloud computing. Parallels SMB Cloud Insights says the global market for cloud services for small and mid-size business will expand to $95 billion by 2015. Traditionally thought of as an IT decision, SMBs will learn that the cloud enables company functions with benefits that can’t be ignored, from efficiency gains to improved employee mobility, Mason says.
Content Will Be King
Content marketing isn’t a new concept, but it will be more important than ever in 2015, particularly for small businesses with limited resources to spend on advertising and media relations. More small businesses will work with journalists, writers and editors as they move from a product-focused to a customer-focused message, says Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, which is launching a platform aimed at helping entrepreneurs and startups with content marketing needs. “As more content creators lose their job with traditional media companies,” he says, “this will present a clear opportunity for smaller companies to work with expert talent in particular industry niches.”
Share your thoughts on important small business trends by commenting below or sending me a tweet at @NorTech!
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