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Just a few weeks into the new year, there’s never been a better time to plan ahead for 2018. But what issues need to be on the radar of small business owners everywhere? Here are five in particular I’m keeping my eye on.

1. The Growing Potential of Automation

Lilach Bullock of the Roundpeg blog confirms that “automation tools are now more accessible than ever, no matter the size of your business, or your budget.”

Small businesses in particular stand to benefit from new automation offerings covering everything from:

Chances are, if there’s an administrative task you handle on a repetitive basis, there’s an automation tool that’ll save you time, money and other resources.

2. Business Continuity Planning and Risk Mitigation

We’re currently in the second-longest running bull market ever. And while there’s plenty of speculation about how long this one might last (predictions range from the optimistic to the pessimistic), 2018 is a great time to start asking yourself some important questions:

  • What can you do now to protect your business during future economic downturns?
  • What are the weak areas in your business?
  • What risks exist in your business that you aren’t actively managing?

These aren’t comfortable questions to ask. But whether an economic downturn occurs in two years or 10, you’ll be happy you took this step now.

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3. Cybersecurity Risks

My site has been hacked multiple times in the last year, and all indications are that these types of cybersecurity risks will only continue in the years to come.

Protect yourself now by:

4. Possible Tax Plan Changes

As of this writing, there’s plenty of speculation about what a Trump administration tax plan might look like. But politics aside, Forbes’s Robb Mandelbaum suggests that the current proposal to lower the tax rate on “pass-through” income (the kind often claimed by owners of sole proprietorships, LLCs and partnerships) to a maximum of 25 percent won’t actually help that many small business owners:

“Indeed, according to an estimate earlier this year by the Tax Policy Center, about 87 percent of households with business income currently max out at the 25 percent bracket or lower.”

Small swings in either direction in how new brackets are organized and what exemptions are kept or eliminated could make future tax years look very different for small companies. 

5. Updates to the Health Insurance Mandate

President Trump’s October 10th executive order was intended to “promote health care choice and competition,” though its full impact isn’t yet understood.

Those watching the space suggest that small businesses could be affected in a number of different ways:

  • Removing the small business coverage mandate could free up capital for employers who elect to no longer offer insurance plans
  • It could become easier for small businesses to band together to purchase association policies
  • Changing policy requirements could pull healthy individuals out of the exchanges, driving premiums up for those in need of comprehensive health care.

Stay tuned for more information, especially if you take advantage of an exchange-based plan or insurance subsidies.

What other trends are you preparing for in 2018? Leave me a note below with your thoughts:

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