Top 3 Small Business Trends of 2018
2018 is shaping up to be an interesting year for small and home-based businesses. Change is in the air, but where the wind will push our ships is still unclear. While we’re floating along toward the New Year, a few trends are starting to peek over the horizon.
I promise that’s the end of the nautical metaphors.
To help you prepare for what’s in store, I’ve got three small business predictions for 2018. Some will change how you interact with customers, while others will affect the way you work every day.
1. A bubble will pop
There’s general consensus that a bubble of some kind is out there. The problem? No one quite knows where that bubble is. It’s like that subtle whirring sound your car makes—you know something’s wrong, you just can’t point to what it is.
Things are going very well right now. Unemployment is down, consumer confidence is up, the S&P 500 has grown 15% in a single year, and house prices are over 20% higher than they were before the market crash in 2007.
Something has to give. That’s the sentiment on Wall Street, at least. The Economist, Wall Street Journal, and just about every other financial outlet has fretted over a bubble for the better part of the past year, with the Economist saying, “Search for such euphoria on Wall Street today and you will come back empty-handed.”
When the bubble does pop, small businesses will be hit. Not because they’re exposed to the assets that burst, but because many of their clients are. This is especially true of B2B operations. When big businesses tighten their belts, small businesses are the ones that feel the pinch.
2. You’ll get hacked
This isn’t the collective “you”—I actually mean you, the person reading this article. This year, the Equifax hack alone exposed 145.5 million Americans’ personal data. Throw in the Uber hack, voting record hack, and my son’s last haircut and it starts looking like we’ve all been hacked in one way or another.
2018 isn’t going to bring sudden calm and security. Online security is like the deadbolt on your home—you only pay attention to it after the door is kicked in.
Even if your personal online presence is locked down like Fort Knox, entities like Equifax have plenty of your data to hand over without much of a struggle.
This doesn’t mean you should cite inevitability and ignore online security. Secure servers, strong passwords, limited access, and a solid deadbolt all go a long way toward keeping you safe. For small and home-based businesses, physical security is a huge concern.
3. Where your stuff is made will matter
There’s been a resurgence in the desire for American-made goods stemming from concerns about economic depression, supply chain transparency, and supporting local businesses. Major manufacturers—like Adidas and Under Armour—are moving some operations back to the U.S., while uncertainty about existing trade policies is forcing everyone to reevaluate their processes and sourcing.
A recent Reuters poll found that 66% of Americans are willing to pay more for products made in America. That’s a four-point shortfall against the 70% that say U.S. product manufacturing is important to them, but it’s still a solid majority.
That same poll found that 65% of Americans care about ethical sourcing in their products. This combination can reward small businesses that play up their local and ethical credentials, and it’ll be a big deal in 2018 as we continue to learn more about how our goods are made.
As a small business owner, you can proactively address such concerns by putting your sourcing front and center. Call out the local businesses and professionals in your supply chain, as well as the jobs you’re creating or supporting. It’s an easy step that adds value to your business’ brand.
More predictions for 2018
These are just a few predictions for how 2018 will unfold, and there are plenty of other changes knocking on the door. What sort of world are you expecting to see in the coming year?