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Interview with an Expert: <br>Advice to Grow Your Business Part 1

advice-grow-business-0315-banner The economy is in growth mode, hiring is on the rise, and consumer spending is up — it seems small business owners have a lot to look forward to in 2015.  “Most of the business owners that I talk to ... they're looking for 2015 to be a good year,” says Gene Marks, best-selling author and columnist for the Washington Post. “Not explosive but a pretty good, moderate growth year. They're going to add some employees, make some investments. That's all good stuff." Fox-jan-2014To identify the most relevant trends and issues related to small business, Wasp Barcode Technologies recently surveyed 1,000 small business owners in its State of Small Business Report. Results showed that most of the small business owners (56%) plan for revenue growth in the new year. Twenty-nine percent expect at least a 5% growth; 19% expect a 5 to 10% increase; and 10% expect a growth of at least 11%.  Most economists today are expecting a 3 to 5% growth this year, which is not as high as the 9% China is expecting, says Marks, but still shows high and promising numbers. When thinking about growing your own business this year, Marks suggests a few important trends to consider.  In this article, we focus on two of the four trends we discussed with Marks: growth and hiring.

"...there is a lot of capital out there for small businesses,”


If you need to borrow money to grow your business, consider banks that offer an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan. The lending options associated with these loans are less restricted and offer more flexible terms than what businesses receive than when dealing with a more conventional loan.  "I just interviewed Maria Contreras-Sweet, the chief of the SBA and she wanted me to tell you that there is a lot of capital out there for small businesses,” says Marks.
In addition to an SBA loan, small business owners should also consider micro lenders, who typically make loans available in smaller amounts, but with less restrictions and requirements than a conventional bank.   “They’re a little more expensive but still a really great place to go for the capital in 2015," says Marks, who recommends Kabbage and CAN Capital as excellent micro lending options.
Small Business Growth & the Economy in 2015


With so many small business owners expecting growth in the new year, 38% of those surveyed also plan to increase their staff. If you’re planning on expanding your talent pool this year, Marks recommends thinking about three hiring trends: 1. OutsourcingIf you’re not quite ready to add a full-time person to the team, consider outsourcing to save on the costs of having long-term employees physically in an office. Outsourcing also allows you to find the right talent no matter what kind of work you need done or where you are in the world. Marks suggests Elance, oDesk, Craigslist, and Guru as excellent outsourcing resources. 2. Flexibility.  The new year is a good time to try out new policies to see how they affect efficiency and productivity levels. With so many responsibilities to balance, a flexible work schedule can really help your workers accomplish more in a day. Marks suggests allowing a work from home option one or two days during the week. “Try it out for 60 to 90 days first,” he says. “Tell them it’s a trial period. Some employees do well and others don't do as well.”
3. Get creative with compensationAccording to Marks, expect to pay your employees more this year – as average wages are expected to rise between 2 to 4% in 2015. However, remember that it’s not always about the money. Consider offering more vacation days or paying for more training and certifications. Your employees will improve their skills and knowledge and your business will also benefit from
Hiring & Growth in Small Business

a highly trained staff. Remember that small office perks, such as buying lunch once a week or having an office party a few times a year also goes a long way.

Related Article: Interview with an Expert: Advice to Grow Your Business Part 2

In this first installment of our interview with Gene Marks, we detailed his thoughts regarding growth and hiring trends and offered his suggestions to small business leaders as they make those important decisions impacting their ability to grow – whether that’s looking for financial resources or bringing aboard new staff.  Make sure to check out the second part of Marks’ interview where we’ll provide his thoughts on the last two trends SMB leaders should consider this year (sales & marketing and technology spending) and the challenges those leaders will face as they work to implement trend recommendations.