Heading into the year with a positive outlook is good for everyone, including current small business owners, employees, and hopeful entrepreneurs. In a climate that fosters advancing technology, mobile technology, automation, and ever-growing lending options, small businesses have the opportunity to take giant leaps this year.
Maria Contreras-Sweet, the administrator of the Small Business Administration, recently addressed a gathering of business owners, bankers, managers, real estate developers, and other members of the Merrimack Chamber of Commerce in Massachusetts. Her message was one of optimism, noting consistent growth. Particularly, 70 consecutive months of job growth, two-thirds of that from small businesses.
Before her appointment to head the SBA just shy of 2 years ago, Contreras-Sweet was a community banker in Los Angeles. Now, her agency's mission, she says, "can be described with three C's: counseling, capital, and contacts." Seeing an increase in small business lending--as much as $23 billion this fiscal year--she notes the SBA further helps small business by helping them offer their products and services to the federal government, which "buys just about everything," she said.
Getting the government to buy from you
Yes, there's government funding out there for the taking, if your business qualifies for an SBA loan. There's also opportunity to make the federal government your customer.
In order to be able to bid for a government contract, you first must be registered in their primary System for Award Management database. There's no fee to register, and all instructions are laid out on the website, including webinars and user guides.
More specific yet to small business is the Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) database. The tool helps contracting officers to identify small businesses qualified for certain bids. Small businesses in the database can also search for other small businesses in the register for the purpose of teaming and joint venturing.
If you're just getting started, there's an online government contracting classroom, offering resources, webinars, and courses to help you get your foot in the door.
Technology will drive business
Technology dominates the expectations for growth in 2016. From automation, mobile technology, cloud computing and big data, payment technology, and custom software options for business personalization will continue to make a dramatic impact on running a successful small business, according to this list of 50 business trends for 2016.
Says Jonathan Wasserstrum, co-founder and CEO of TheSquareFoot, a web-based leasing brokerage for small businesses seeking office space in larger cities across the country, "It's now easier than ever to develop customer software applications, and as a result, enterprise technology is no longer limited to large corporations." Tools to help businesses stay competitive are widely available. The playing field is more level than ever.
Technological solutions for every business, however, means that you need to be using it to get ahead. Customers' expectations are ever higher for immediate response and impeccable service, fast delivery, and convenience. If you don't adapt and become a tech-enabled business, you'll be far behind the curve.
Whether your utilizing the resources and funding through the SBA or other methods of alternative lending to ride the wave of optimism into 2016, investing in technology to differentiate your business is a good bet.