Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2010: A New Decade and New Threats for Small Businesses

Although 2010 is poised to be a turnaround year for small businesses, and things may start to seem a bit rosier, business owners must anticipate emerging threats and always be on guard. The tides can turn at any moment. A new competitive force could emerge and knock you on your feet. New legislation and tax codes could prove harmful. Or, as is the fate with many small businesses, Google could decide to take over your industry sector – then you are in real trouble.

Below are the emerging threats as I see them for small businesses in 2010 and beyond.

The Uncertainty of the Tax Code – Nobody really knows what will happen with taxes in 2010 and beyond. With our biggest deficit ever and anticipated additional spending over the next few years, it is almost certain taxes will increase. In fact, the major provisions of the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to “sunset” as of the end of this year. As a result, this will give less incentive for an entrepreneur to grow a business, and give private equity less incentive to invest in speculative but higher rates of return.

Competition from the individual 1099 contractors -- Although 1099 contractors are somewhat entrepreneurial in nature, professional services firm will face major competition from individual contractors (in the US and overseas) in addition to other competing firms. Tom Freedman’s book “The World is Flat”, explains this challenge and the challenge is a threat now more than ever -- with so many out of work professionals.

Access to Capital -- Although the Obama stimulus has earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars for SBA loans, companies still are finding access to this money harder than expected. In addition, the Venture Capital funds and tolerance for risk simply does not exist going into 2010. Entrepreneurial companies must become profitable from the start and not count on debt or equity for help.

Surely this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of threats. As always, I welcome all comments, feedback and insights.

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