Financial challenges facing small businesses in 2014
The economy is growing, but that growth has been slow - and it's got many small business owners understandably concerned about obstacles they'll have to face in the coming year.
Now the 2013 Christmas retail rush is over and 2014 is upon us, here are a few of the challenges US business owners will have to contend with:
Sluggish economic growth
The economy's growth took a hit in October when the government partially shut down. And while it's expected to pick up again in 2014, that boost may not give as much help to small businesses as they'd hope.
According to Kiplinger, the US GDP is expected to build momentum slowly, finally reaching a growth of 2.6 percent for 2014. Uncertainty about the economy's future is the main force keeping growth down. Congress only authorized funding to keep the government running until Jan. 15 and lifted the debt ceiling through Feb. 7.
That means another showdown over the debt ceiling is likely, and many businesses (especially those with government contracts) are spooked enough to put a temporary freeze on investment and hiring.
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Health care reform
While the ACA was meant to benefit small employers, many are still worried about the new law's effect on their bottom line. And the reality is, even the smallest employers will have to deal with a lot of new rules and reporting requirements - and, in some cases, new costs.
Without huge human resources departments slogging through the paperwork and making sense of new regulations, some small business owners may have to seek legal advice to ensure they're in compliance.
With these added costs, confusion, and uncertainty, the ACA is one of the biggest challenges to small business owners going into 2014.
Finally, the ever-changing face of marketing poses its own set of unique challenges to businesses of all sizes. Content marketing surged to the forefront of everyone's marketing strategy in 2013, thanks to shifts in Google's search algorithms. That trend looks to continue into 2014.
That focus on content means small business owners will have to produce (or find someone to produce) more content than ever before.
But it's not just the quantity of content that presents a challenge: All of these materials have to also deliver quality and value, or they're a wasted of effort. Outsourcing, creating an editorial calendar for the year, and repurposing content across channels can all help alleviate this burden.
Social media and mobile marketing have also become huge forces, and their importance is likely to grow in 2014 and beyond. Small businesses need to integrate these channels into their marketing plans, if they haven't already.
The 2014 outlook is cautiously optimistic, but that doesn't mean businesses won't have some serious obstacles to overcome.
Those who look ahead and build a strategy now to deal with those obstacles stand a good chance of seeing healthy growth into next year - and beyond.
About the author
Freelance blogger Angie Mansfield covers a variety of subjects for both consumers and small business owners, including marketing, social media, and personal finance management.
Dell to sell cloud-based iPaaS Boomi in US$4bn deal
Global investment firm Francisco Partners and private equity platform TPG Capital have entered into an agreement with Dell Technologies to acquire cloud-based integration platform as a service provider Boomi in a cash deal valued at US$4bn. The deal is expected to complete this year.
“Boomi has flourished as part of Dell Technologies, growing exponentially since we acquired them in 2010. This proposed transaction positions Boomi for its next phase of growth and is the right move for both companies, our shared customers and partners,” said Jeff Clarke, vice chairman and chief operating officer of Dell Technologies.
“For us, we're focused on fuelling growth by continuing to modernise our core infrastructure and PC businesses and expanding in high-priority areas including hybrid and private cloud, edge, telecom and APEX. All designed to help organisations thrive in the do-from-anywhere economy.”
Dell’s Boomi sell-off follows VMware spin-off
This announcement comes just two weeks after Dell said it would spin-off its 81% equity ownership of VMware to form two standalone companies. This would result in an expected US$9.3bn cash dividend payment to Dell, which says it will use those funds to pay down debt.
When Dell acquired Boomi in 2010 for an undisclosed fee, Boomi offered the industry’s only pure SaaS application integration platform, powered by its revolutionary AtomSphere technology. Dell saw Boomi as addressing one of the top barriers to cloud adoption at that time, which was managing and integrating cloud-based applications with existing applications and databases.
Now, Boomi has more than 15,000 customers globally and is still seen as a leader when it comes to organisations connecting applications, processes and people across a range of locations and devices – a process that can take weeks rather than months.
“I am incredibly proud that through innovation, passion and relentless execution, the Boomi team has created a unified platform for the modern-day hybrid IT landscape that thousands of customers worldwide depend on to digitally transform their business,” said Chris McNabb, chief executive officer of Boomi.
“By partnering with two tier-one investment firms like Francisco Partners and TPG, we can accelerate our ability for our customers to use data to drive competitive advantage. In this next phase of growth, Boomi will be in a position of strength to further advance our innovation and market trajectory while delivering even more value to our customers.”
Francisco Partners has invested in more than 300 technology companies since its launch 20 years ago and has more than US$25bn in assets under management.
“The ability to integrate and connect data and workflows across any combination of applications or domains is a critical business capability, and we strongly believe that Boomi is well positioned to help companies of all sizes turn data into their most valuable asset,” said Dipanjan Deb, co-founder and chief executive officer, and Brian Decker, partner, at Francisco Partners
Nehal Raj, partner, and Art Heidrich, principal, at TPG Capital added: “The need for automation and data integration across applications has never been greater. Boomi's cloud-native platform enables enterprises to streamline business processes and is essential for driving digital transformation.”