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Small Business Owners Look to the Year Ahead

What will the small business landscape look like in 2016?

That’s what Manta’s Semi-Annual Wellness Index asked small business owners when they asked them to evaluate their businesses and share what issues they expect to cause concern in 2016, according to Manta, a small business directory that helps those businesses connect with customers and grow their companies.

The top concerns hindering small business owners at the end of 2015 were longstanding business issues such as lack of capital (29 percent), competition (17 percent), lack of good employees (16 percent), and taxes (13 percent), according to the company. Small business owners listed cost of healthcare (6 percent), lack of government support (6 percent) and rise in minimum wage (2 percent) at the bottom of their list of concerns in 2015.

When asked which current issues could hinder their growth in 2016, an unstable global economy topped the list at 29 percent, followed by quality of partnerships and vendors (25 percent), healthcare costs (22 percent), presidential election results (12 percent), and rising minimum wage (11 percent).

Calling All Government Leaders

According to Manta’s Wellness Index, small business owners will look to their local governments for support across five issues:

  • Tax law changes
  • Understanding of small business challenges and development
  • Leaders who promote the importance of small businesses
  • Programs that connect small businesses with quality partners
  • Improved funding/financing programs

“This year will bring major changes at the federal and state levels. Small business owners especially must be cognizant of what’s going on within their industries and adjust accordingly,” says Manta CEO John Swanciger. “Entrepreneurs are dealing with the moving parts that come with running a business. They’re trying to figure out where they should focus in 2016, and they’re looking to their communities for help.”

For Small Business Owners, The Future is Bright

Entrepreneurs surveyed in Manta’s Wellness Index felt slightly less successful in the second half of 2015 compared to the first half (69 percent vs. 71 percent); however, their business optimism and plans for hiring in the New Year paint a slightly different story, according to Manta. In fact, 83 percent of respondents are optimistic about business prospects in 2016, up slightly from 82 percent in 2015. And on the hiring front, 39 percent of respondents plan to hire in the first half of 2016, up from the 35 percent that hired in the latter half of 2015.

“We are optimistic that 2016 will be a banner year for us as we move to add additional offerings to our roster, including coaching services,” says Sally Hirsh, CEO of Alternatives Financial Services, LLC, which provides financial fiduciary services to at-risk adults as well as consultation and coaching for family members. “Manta’s online marketing will be at the forefront of our efforts to reach new [prospects]. We are looking forward to 2016 and plan to launch education and support materials for family fiduciaries as well as a coaching program to support them.”

Tips for Achieving the Best 2016

Here are a few tips from Manta:

  • Hire Smart: Sixteen percent of entrepreneurs found that the lack of good employees hindered business performance in 2015—a number that is not to be overlooked. For job applicants, looking good on paper is the easy part; small business owners should meet face-to-face with potential candidates and evaluate them as much on their personality as their skill and experience to ensure they fit with company culture. As we move into 2016, small business owners should focus efforts on finding the right fit for long-term business plans—not just the applicant that fits in the moment.
  • Strive to Grow: Only half of entrepreneurs surveyed had any type of marketing plan, business plan or growth plans for their businesses. One of the top reasons to write a business plan is to highlight business essentials and determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. What are you going to provide and to whom? How are you going to provide it to them? How are you going to make your business stand out from the competition? By devoting time and energy to strategic initiatives upfront, small business owners will reap the benefits of having a well-structured, well-researched business plan.
  • Lean on Your Community: Manta’s Wellness Index found only 10 percent of small business owners blame government regulation as the reason businesses fail, and just 4 percent think lack of government support leads to the demise of small businesses. In 2016, government leaders must make an effort to establish themselves as active advocates for small business.

About Liz Lichtenberger

Liz is the special projects editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and trends, visits retailers, and attends industry events. She graduated from Xavier University, where she earned a degree in English and Spanish and was a member of the swim team. Liz is a Louisville, Kentucky, native who lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children. She enjoys swimming, reading, doing home improvement projects around her house and cheering on her two favorite basketball teams, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Xavier Musketeers.

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