Small-business owners face many uncertainties as the new year gathers momentum. Here are two areas that experts say they should watch in the coming year.
This year, small-business owners will need to make decisions related to health care reform and plan for its 2014 implementation. Owners can also expect an increase in related fees and taxes.
“They are going to have to educate themselves, plan for the impact, and educate their employees as much as possible," said Kevin Kuhlman, legislative affairs manager for the National Federation of Independent Business.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that all Americans have minimal health care coverage by 2014 or pay a penalty. Employers with 50 or more employees, or the equivalent, will have more responsibilities, but employers with fewer workers will also feel the impact.
In 2013, businesses will have to determine whether they fall in the “large" or “small" category for the employer mandate. They’ll also have to determine whether employees are full time or part time, and apply a new counting requirement to ultimately determine their size.
Small-business owners should explore both conservative and optimistic scenarios in 2013, said David Grant, president of Raleigh SCORE, a nonprofit organization that offers free counseling and workshops to small businesses.
Businesses also should think about expansion strategies, including improving customer service, securing additional capital, exporting, and incorporating social media and a mobile website,
Greg Lewis, a Raleigh-area chef and owner of Catering By Design, set up a mobile website for his business, and he plans another for his restaurant in 2013.
The site allows customers to find and contact him easily, Lewis said.
Internet marketing, along with a quality staff, has allowed his catering business to grow from 15 percent to 40 percent annually, he said.