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Expert Advice for High-Growth Businesses

  • November 14, 2017

What Lies Ahead in 2018 for Your SMB?

At Oracle OpenWorld 2017, a group of small- and medium-sized business (SMB) experts held a panel discussion on The State of the SMB Market. The panel reviewed the leading concerns of today’s SMBs, like access to capital, how to find and retain top talent, what’s happening in Washington DC regarding SMB regulations, and what’s ahead for SMBs in 2018.

To continue the discussion on the state of the SMB market, Oracle SMB asked our Twitter community to weigh in and share their insights with us during a recent Tweetchat. We received responses from some of the top influencers and authorities in the SMB space, including Karen Kerrigan, President of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, and Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media and SmallBizDaily.com.

Here is what they had to say.

What are some of the areas of business that are currently keeping entrepreneurs up at night?

Entrepreneurs are concerned about how to leverage cloud, mobile and analytics technology to get to scale quickly. Many Oracle SMB customers are picking one digital technology to acquire competency, then expanding from there. I talked to a midsize manufacturing company recently who started using mobile and cloud in supply chain to drive customer satisfaction.

– Chris Germann (@Chris_Germann), Vice President of Cloud Application Strategy at Oracle

Watch this short clip to hear Chris Germann's full answer:

Revenue growth and competitiveness issues. Also, costs related to health coverage and direction of policy (like taxes). The other perennial issues: access to capital and cash flow, though various surveys find the latter has improved with SMBs.
– Karen Kerrigan (@KarenKerrigan), President of Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Finding trained staff is tough. Competing with bigger businesses for good talent. Cash flow remains a challenge. Small businesses often don’t get paid in a timely manner. Increasing customer expectations can be hard to keep up with. Customers are savvier than ever before. Also, managing workforces. Next year, we’ll have 4 generations of Americans in the adult workforce: Boomers, Gen X, Y and Z. Those generations have different skill sets, needs and expectations.
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), CEO of GrowBiz Media and SmallBizDaily.com

I can think of three key areas: Digital transformation, talent in the workforce, and what’s happening in DC with SMBs. With great opportunities comes great responsibility and challenges. How do you scale your business with finite resources?
– Brian Moran (@BrianMoran), Award-winning Business Advisor

They’re wearing multiple hats, what projects and business areas do SMBs prioritize is a big question for them. Do we start with building out customer or employee experience? Are they equally important?
– Sunita S. Khatri (@SunitaSKhatri)

Access to capital is always a big issue for SMBs. How are current policies addressing this issue?

Regulatory improvements at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (crowdfunding, capital markets) and for small and mid-size banks to foster lending and tax policy.
– Karen Kerrigan (@KarenKerrigan), President of Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

See what else Karen Kerrigan had to say regarding access to capital:

The government needs to address policies that help smaller firms get better access to capital. It’s the fuel that drives their car. In speaking to dozens of SMBs at Oracle OpenWorld 2017, access to capital and cash flow are two key factors in their growth plans.
– Brian Moran (@BrianMoran), Award-winning Business Advisor

One government resource all SMBs can use is SCORE Mentors. They’ll help you figure out your financial needs.
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), CEO of GrowBiz Media and SmallBizDaily.com

There are a host of other regulatory issues that concern SMBs. What’s the progress in this area?

All federal agencies are reviewing rules on the books for outdated, duplicative regs. @AdvocacySBA is helping! Expect good changes. A solid small business regulatory reform bill is moving. It will give small businesses a bigger voice for more equitable, smart regulation. IP protection is critical for small businesses and with new agreements and efforts in place, we’ll see positive headway on that front.
– Karen Kerrigan (@KarenKerrigan), President of Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Watch this short clip to hear more from Karen Kerrigan:

We talked a lot in yesterday’s Oracle OpenWorld panel discussion about progress made in trade and intellectual property protection. With global markets being more accessible to U.S. small and midsize companies, trade and IP are key issues.
– Brian Moran (@BrianMoran), Award-winning Business Advisor

What steps are successful SMBs taking to hire and retain employees to help foster their growth?

It’s about value. People wanted to be valued by their employers, but different generations have different needs. One solution will NOT fit all. You need to ask your staff what they value/want. What benefits can you offer them to help them? Gen Y and Z employees expected updated technology. Here’s something we just wrote on SmallBizDaily, 3 Steps to Attracting and Retaining Qualified Employees.
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), CEO of GrowBiz Media and SmallBizDaily.com

For millennial employees, I’m hearing that the right fit has to be a lot more than just compensation. What worked as hiring practices 10 years ago will not work today or in the future. It’s a whole new ball game.
– Brian Moran (@BrianMoran), Award-winning Business Advisor

Automating recruiting with cloud platforms speeds hiring and increases accuracy of targeting the right hires.
– Chris Germann (@Chris_Germann), Vice President of Cloud Application Strategy at Oracle

SMBs will be candidate-centric and leverage modern HR tools for a best-in-class workforce experience.
– Sunita S. Khatri (@SunitaSKhatri)

Any final thoughts or words of wisdom for business owners as we approach 2018?

My advice to SMBs is to try to be more proactive when reactive when it comes to the future of your business! Business owners need to see what’s coming up 6-12 months from now and get AHEAD of the curve.
– Brian Moran (@BrianMoran), Award-winning Business Advisor

2018 represents a lot of opportunity. Prepare now to take advantage of it. Be mobile-ready. Explore global opportunities. Take care of staff.
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), CEO of GrowBiz Media and SmallBizDaily.com

Your time is now! Learn from this year. Plan for 2018 and focus forward. Looking back is not allowed.
– Gwendolyn Turner (@GwenFTurner), President of Princeton Proper

Look at digital enhancements to your business that will also impact the quality of life for your customers.
– Chris Germann (@Chris_Germann), Vice President of Cloud Application Strategy at Oracle

Get more sleep in 2018. Solve the biggest issues your growing company faces in the new year.

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