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‘Golden Age Of Small Business’ On the Way, Report Says

These 5 trends will give small businesses an edge.

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A “golden age of small business” is emerging, driven by rapid technological change, a shifting workforce and evolving consumer demands, a new report suggests.

The new “QuickBooks Future of Small Business” report identifies five trends that will give small businesses a competitive edge over the next decade. The report was developed by Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU) in partnership with Emergent Research.

Perhaps you’re already taking advantage of some of these trends, or thinking about how you might do so. On the other hand, some of the developments might seem irrelevant or even potentially harmful, depending on the specifics of your business.

One thing’s for sure: Given the pace of change at this point, any of these changes could prove important for your business in ways that are hard to predict right now.

The trends, according to the report:

  • World-class business infrastructure. Small businesses have the ability to build upon technology infrastructure that was once the sole domain of large organizations, such as cloud computing, manufacturing and distribution. These resources are now available at a variable cost, allowing small businesses to scale up and down and only pay for what they use. Today, 62 percent of small businesses are operating their business in the cloud, up from 37 percent two years ago.

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  • Insightful data. With 90 percent of the world’s data generated in the last two years, small businesses are able to use their own data to gain deeper customer and business insights. Technological advances such as machine learning are taking the complexity out of data analysis, providing small businesses with the ability to make faster, better decisions.

  • A growing pool of on-demand talent. Driven by the growth of contingent workers, projected to represent 43 percent of the workforce by 2020, small businesses have access to the right people at the right time in a flexible way, Intuit explains in a press release.

  • Online marketplaces. Rising consumer demand for niche products and services, coupled with the emergence of online marketplaces, is allowing small businesses to embrace and scale their do-it-yourself roots, according to Intuit. The company explains: “Small businesses can now participate in online marketplaces to gain access to millions of previously unreachable customers.”

  • Cost-effective online advertising. There are countless opportunities for small businesses to deliver their targeted messages to prospective customers in any location. Online options range from sponsored photos to in-stream video ads, and many of them are fairly low-cost with sub-$100 options readily available.

The report also forecasts an acceleration in the growth of U.S. small businesses over the next decade, from 30 million in 2016 to over 42 million in 2026. This represents an average annual growth rate of 3.3 percent, a significant increase on the 2 percent average growth seen between 2004 and 2014, the most recent data available.

“The next few years will see an acceleration in the number of small and micro businesses thanks in large part to new technologies that reduce the costs and risks of operating a small business and open up access to customers around the world,” said Steve King, partner at Emergent Research. “While running a business is always going to be tough work, economic and technological changes are making it easier and cheaper to start and operate a successful small business.”

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Karen Peacock, senior vice president of small business at Intuit, said the “decade of the small business” is upon us.

The suspects reportedly spoke very good Spanish but used an unknown language with each other. They also spoke English.

“Industry-shifting trends like lower-cost, scalable infrastructure to start and grow your business, the ability to build a team with amazing on-demand talent, and data that helps you fuel your business and delight your customers are game changers,” she said.


Read more at Business Wire.

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