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How to Prepare for Five Changes That Will Affect Small Businesses in 2013

How to prepare for five changes that will affect small businesses in 2013.

The dawn of a new year is always exciting. In anticipation of the coming year, I consulted Barry Sloane, CEO of New York-based business solutions provider Newtek. He walked me through the five biggest changes expected to affect small businesses in the new year and how you can prepare for them.

1) Changes in Healthcare Law are On the Way

Though the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act doesn’t go into effect until 2014, small businesses with more than 50 employees should use 2013 to prepare. Once the Act goes into effect, businesses that don’t provide healthcare for their employees may end up paying a fine.

How to prepare:

  • Start seeking expert help on how to navigate the more than 2,000-page act.
  • Research healthcare exchanges in your state, as well as the federal exchange.
  • Talk to your current healthcare insurance providers about ways to reduce costs.
  • Discuss your options with your accountant and find out if you are eligible for a tax credit to offset some of the premiums.

2) Lending Options Will Open Up

Because of the Federal Reserve’s 0% interest rate policy, which is predicted to stay in effect for a few more years, lenders will start to return to the market. However, they will only lend money to established businesses with stable cash flow.

How to prepare:

  • Set up meetings to build relationships with bankers now.
  • Find out what information bankers need from you before they will loan you money.
  • Track the metrics they request and keep your banks up-to-date on your progress.
  • Use crowd-funding to grow your business in the meantime.

3) E-Commerce Will Drive Business Growth

With the success of Cyber Monday, prevalence of smartphones, and nearly $1 trillion in online sales this year, it is essential to have an effective, functional e-commerce site.

How to prepare:

  • Set up an e-commerce site, which can cost as little as $6 a month.
  • Monitor your site traffic—who is going to your site, how often are they visiting, how long do they stay, and what are they looking at? Then adjust your site and offerings as needed to optimize your selling potential.

4) Online Theft and Security Breaches Will Increase

As e-commerce grows, hackers will increase their efforts to steal credit card numbers and identities. Every time you update your website, you create new vulnerabilities. A firewall is not enough anymore—you need heavy-duty security software.

How to prepare:

  • Protect your site with software that constantly scans your servers, hardware, and software for unusual behavior and security issues.
  • Secure commercial insurance to protect you from online theft.

5) The Cloud Will Become Even More Important

With Hurricane Sandy still fresh in our minds, this is the perfect time to move your business to the cloud so you can have anytime-anywhere access to critical information such as insurance policies, e-commerce, and payroll systems.

How to prepare:

  • Install cloud-based backup software on all of your computers.
  • Scan hard copies of critical documents into your computer to store them safely on the cloud.
  • Be sure to move your business systems—customer relationship management, loyalty programs, payroll, accounting, etc.—to cloud-based systems.

How are you preparing your business for the new year? Share your own tips in a comment below.

Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

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