15 Predictions and Trends for 2010 Like most entrepreneurs, you're already looking forward to next year--our experts will tell what to expect.
Scott Steinberg: Shiny Objects
In 2010, expect to see small-business owners becoming more tech-savvy, and increasingly going mobile, virtual and viral as a result. Not only is it now possible to tap into the power of smartphones, netbooks and
online services or cloud computing apps to slash overhead drastically and take your office wherever you go. It's also viable to use social networks, microblogging applications and all-purpose multimedia devices'
to build buzz for products and brands, connect directly with consumers and source real-time customer feedback that allows you to optimize any sales effort or marketing campaign.
Allen Moon: E-Business
I see 2010 as the year when even the most low-tech online businesses see possibilities in mobile marketing. The vast majority of small businesses see "mobile" as the domain of larger companies and tech-savvy entrepreneurs, but there's a lower barrier to entry than ever before. Every website needs to be mobile-friendly, at the very least. This way, you stand to benefit from geo-locating features on smart phones, and "recommendation apps" that send folks to your business. If you never get further than that, you've still come a long way.
Nina Kaufman: Making It Legal
I see a rise in collections problems. With the economy still in tight straits and a very likely (substantial) tax increase to fund the bailouts/stimulus packages/healthcare programs, small businesses will find cash flow even tighter in 2010. Entrepreneurs will be chasing after their clients to get paid, other companies will be chasing after them to get paid and the IRS and Departments of Labor will be chasing after everyone to get their hands on income and employment taxes (to replenish the depleted treasuries)--whether or not the amounts are actually overdue.
Brad Sugars: Startup Basics
2010 will be a big year for people starting their own businesses, both out of necessity and because confidence will start to build and people will be ready to make the leap. With so many companies going out of business, and the employment market full of great new people looking for work, the level of opportunity to fill the gaps with quality people is vast coming into 2010. The dollar is down; international markets have come through the recession in many cases stronger than the U.S., so overseas expansion has never looked better.
Jeff Elgin: Buying a Franchise
As we look to 2010, the markets are recovering, unemployment is going down (though slowly) and the people seem ready to start taking action to make their situation better. During the coming year we will see and hear more bad news but we will also see more new business startups, we'll see increased consumer spending and we'll see increasing amounts of lending to small businesses. It's an election year so the politicians are going to try hard to make the situation better, perhaps even by letting capitalism work as intended, because if they don't they might just all get voted out.
Elinor Robin: Conflict Management
In 2010, as resources become tighter, we will encounter more conflicts in our personal and professional lives and this trend will be mirrored on the local, national and international stages. The new economy will continue to foster the creation of innovative services by entrepreneurs who are able to side-step the traditional attorney-driven model of conflict management. The majority of these services will be technology-based, allowing people to access information that they will use in DIY models or with reduced fee
Penny Morey: Human Resources
Business owners and HR reps will have to continue to deal with cutbacks in staff, reduced or eliminated salary increases and/or benefits programs and the overall general business malaise that many industries experienced in 2009. Most employees not directly affected observed co-workers, spouses and other family members struggle to make ends meet. While some business sectors are beginning to rally, no sensible person is overly optimistic about the speed of our economic recovery. Those in charge of HR will be working with smaller budgets and less staff, as well. So, as usual, a primary responsibility will be to lead by example regarding exhibiting a steadfast positive demeanor and showing innovative ways to do more with less.
Michelle Dunn: Credit and Collections Specialist
In 2009 the economy gave us all many lessons, some of which we are still dealing with and will be for years to come. It is my opinion that in 2010 and the coming years we will see the credit and collections management profession growing like never before and more businesses hiring credit personnel to handle checking credit and references for new customers, dealing with customers who get past due, and implementing and enforcing credit policies like never before. When I owned my collection agency, approximately 70 percent of my clients did not have credit policies and I see that changing as we move forward. Businesses can no longer survive without limiting their credit risk.
Bonnie Lee: Tax Tips
I predict that taxes will go up next year. We are looking at increased spending programs, an expensive health care bill and an escalating war in Afghanistan. Someone has to pay for it and I believe it will be the wealthy. I also predict a major backlash as a result.
Paul Spiegelman: Corporate Culture and Customer Satisfaction
As we move into 2010 and unemployment remains high, company culture will continue to be challenged. The best way to preserve and enhance the culture is complete transparency and an adherence to a set of visible core values. Employees will help you with the challenges of business if you are open and honest with them. It will also be important to resist the temptation to diversify products and services for short-term revenue gains. Focusing on what you're best in the world at is never more important than during challenging times. Stick with the basics and we'll all get through this together.
Joseph Benoit: Small Business Finance Strategist
Many of our entrepreneurial clients continue to ask where to find credit, how to get approved and what to do when a bank freezes their credit. It will become more critical during 2010 for business owners to keep organized financial records and diligently document their successes, and of course, continue to pay bills on time. These are all factors financial institutions may consider when reviewing your case for access to credit.
Michael Port: Sales Talk
If you are in business or sales, you're going to have to prove you are trustworthy. Sure, that's always been the case, but 2010 is going to put sales professionals under a microscope. Customers are going to be
far more discerning in the trust department. The New York Times called 2009 the Year of the Bamboozle. Trust has been compromised by a good portion of the private, public and entertainment sector. So, now it's
even more important to listen first and build trust based on your clients' needs. When you talk about your products and services, listen for immediate reactions. Do your customers think you can deliver what
you say you can? Be acutely aware of how you continually build trust and how you are going to prove you can deliver what you promise.
Tim Berry: Business Plans
People are going to do more and better business planning, but not more full formal business plan documents. This is the year for getting key planning elements defined and understood, for regular plan review and course correction, and more focus on the planning process. Form follows function, and people are getting used to that in planning context. It's not a document, it's a plan. It's going to be wrong, but that doesn't mean it isn't vital. You'll use that difference between plan and actual to steer your company better.
Mikal Belicove: Build a Website
While 2010 appears to be a turnaround year for the economy, entrepreneurs and start-ups alike will continue to spend cautiously and push hard for measurable returns on every dollar invested; and when it comes to the Web, designers and programmers will be pushed to the extreme. As a compromise to satisfy tight budgets calling for immediate results, look for 2010 to be the year we finally get back to basic and streamlined Web design. The one-page website, a favorite among busy Web designers and programmers for showcasing their own services and related data, will emerge as a trend that's difficult to ignore. Cost efficient, scalable, and search engine friendly, I predict the one-page website will be the darling of the Web in 2010.
Domenic Rinaldi: Buying and Selling a Business
A slight recovery will see small and mid-size businesses return to profitability quickly. This will be followed by large numbers of baby boomer-owned businesses for sale. The recession caused many of the baby boomer business owners to delay their retirement plans. Their primary focus was to retrench and save their companies so when this recession ends, they can salvage a nest egg. The smart boomers will not wait to capitalize on the upward swing in business, realizing that the best time to sell is when things are going well. In addition, many are just flat out exhausted by the amount of effort and energy that was required to salvage their businesses during this downturn.