Along with the introduction of the plural generation, mobile payments and pre-election year politics, 2015 also promises more development of the “internet of things”, a concept that small business owners may or may not be already familiar with. According to a Wired.com article on the IoT, the name refers to the increasing spread of networks as well as the proliferation of “smart” devices capable of using the internet to receive and collect information, bridging the gap between the internet and the physical world. How does the internet of things relate to small business? There are many ways that businesses both large and small could be changed by the increasing connection between the web, interenet enabled devices and people in the next few years. Here are a couple that business owners should take into account. Mobile payment technologies. The news that Apple will be moving into the mobile payment space brought the possibility of widely adopted seamless payments back into focus, as the challenge of balancing retailer concerns

Each year, certain “must pass” bills are pushed through Congress with the goal of providing funding for essential government functions. One such bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, is an annual bill aimed at funding the military. Over the past few years, according to the Washington Post, the bill has also harbored ride along bills aimed at boosting small business, especially where it comes to awarding them their fair share of government contracts. Given the importance of passing key budget acts, they are often used as a way to get things done where smaller bills might otherwise get swept up in partisan politics and have a much diminished chance of making it into law. Among small business bills riding the NDAA, the Women’s Small Business Procurement Policy Act was announced for 2015. In a report from seacoastonline.com, detail was given on Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-N.H) announcement that this year’s defense bill would include a rider aimed at providing female owned contractors with better chances for procuring

In a study released by Magid Generational Strategies, marketers were introduced to the newest American generation, now officially recognized as different from the Millennial generation currently entering the workforce. In 2014, the last Millennial will turn 18, marking an important milestone and signifying the formation of a new generation called the “Plurals” for their diverse ethnic backgrounds and open attitudes towards issues including immigration, gay marriage and equalization of traditional gender roles. As the Millennials enter the realm of adulthood, with the increased purchasing power and political influence that entails, the Boomer generation will enter into their 50’s, again a significant shift in demographics that will see a shift of targeting and message through the media channels that target the 18-49 year old demographic with the most significant impact on purchasing in the US, as the golden years, according to the analysis, are characterized by staunch brand loyalty and moderate spending habits. What are the Plurals like? Changing technology, parenting strategies and legislation in the US

A recent article on CoinDesk.com announced the integration of Bitcoin into the mobile payment giant NCR’s point of sale products for small business owners. The move is a big step forward towards a wider acceptance of Bitcoin, a digital currency that is the internet’s answer to the dollar, with secure packets of information standing in for the physical presence of paper money in what is known as cryptocurrency. According to the CoinDesk article, NCR provides payment solutions technology to a wide range of international clients, meaning that their recognition of Bitcoin is a powerful statement recognizing the validity of non-traditional currencies. Greater Bitcoin acceptance comes at a time when the strategic importance of mobile payments is growing. The news of wider Bitcoin acceptance coincides with much media hype surrounding the roll-out of Apple Pay, the mobile payment app native to IOS 8. Apple’s payment app attacks some of the most persistent challenges standing in the way of greater acceptance of mobile payments, namely security and utility

According to the Biz2Credit small business lending index, approvals for small businesses from big banks fell in October, the first decline in 7 months of growth, dipping by 0.2% from 20.6% in September. The slight decline still reflects some of the strongest numbers since the beginning of the Great Recession, and as business confidence continues to increase (although not necessarily the perception of success), both hard and soft indicators of economic recovery seem to be moving in the right direction, albeit at a sluggish pace. Business owners may be more wary about debt now than at the beginning of the recession. One factor that may effect loan volumes is the fact that small business borrowers have been reticent about taking on debt, with many only seeking financing when it comes time to make capital improvements that are simply outside of the reach of their normal cash flows. For some with bad credit, seeking bank financing has been a relatively fruitless endeavor, with the alternative being seeking

The economy is showing signs of improving, and while it is a rocky road, it’s still improving during a time when the global economy has been doing even worse. Add to that improving stats in almost every area, according to a recent Small Business Trends article, and you would think that self confidence would be on the rise. This is not the case, and as the article goes on to cite, a 6% drop in self designations as “extremely” or “very successful” has taken place since 2009. This is alarming, considering that if there was ever a time for business owners to feel like they are doing well, it should be as they persevere through an economic down turn and begin to see faint light at the end of the tunnel. Part of feeling successful is being able to perceive your achievements. While small business performance indicators are returning to pre-recession levels, business owners are apparently not perceiving themselves as successful, potentially because of their innate

Small business owners should expect some changes in the government in the coming months, as election results are in and Republicans now boast a majority in the formerly democratic controlled Senate. This news is good or bad, or neutral depending on the political leanings and policy ramifications it may have for business owners, and to say that they are a group with varied political allegiances is an understatement. However you feel about the change, here are three areas that are predicted to be effected by the shift in legislative power. Healthcare. Obamacare, which some Republicans would love to repeal outright, if most likely immune to being repealed but not to being changed by the new Republican majority. According to the  Standard Examiner’s coverage of the new Senate, the most controversial aspects of the law, including mandated company health plans and 30 hours a week defining full time worker status, are most likely among the first to be targeted for repeals and modification, though a bill for

  Small business owners are a group who can vary widely in their familiarity with technology, from extremely adept bordering on savant, to uninterested and skeptical on a fundamental level. That being said, for small business owners in the modern age, a lack of technological inclination has gone from quirky to borderline irresponsible, as the value of e-commerce as well as the exposure that can come from having a place on the internet grows. In fact, this year is projected to be the biggest ever for e-commerce spending, something that business owners without websites have no means of tapping into. When bad credit  business financing concerns are added to the equation, it can be harder for business owners to convince themselves to spend on a website. That said, odds are good that if they take the time to sufficiently research and plan the development of their website, it will be able to repay them for their investment. For one thing, even if their business does not

The holidays are a time when business owners are often at their most busy, as commerce picks up and many Americans spend the most that they will spend all year. While this trend hasn’t changed for years, the ways that people are shopping for goods and services have been, to the point that this year might very well be the biggest year for E-commerce to date. Last year, holiday spending via desktop e-commerce clocked in at a record $46.5 billion dollars, representing a 10% growth over 2012, with the biggest percentage growth being a 21% increase in the amount spent on Thanksgiving day from 2012 to 2013. Additionally, last year had a few extra challenges that made it less of a number posting year, for one thing because of a smaller number of days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, for another because of the icy polar vortex and reduced discretionary income among many consumers. In the face of these challenges, the growth numbers posted for online

When it comes to seeking financing, it can sometimes be difficult to know when is a good time to look for it and when it is more prudent to wait. Aside from a business owner’s own plans and the strength of their cash flows, macro factors such as the economy and season also figure in to deciding when  is a strong time to seek financing and when it might be better to wait for a more opportune moment. With that being said, current economic conditions point to now as a time for small businesses to grow. In an article which appeared on Smallbiztrends.com, three compelling reasons were introduced as to why now is the right time for small business owners to seek credit, including historically low interest rates, improving approval statistics and the impending end of year which sees banks and businesses alike looking to work towards improving their final numbers. What are your bank statements telling you about your business? In order to determine if

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