By Will Reynolds, CEO of SecureDocs
2015 has been a great year for SMBs with a strong US economy, relatively easy access to capital and a seemingly endless demand for new technology, apps, devices, medicines and innovative services.
Here are some broad predictions to consider as you navigate your SMB business into the new year:
1. New sources of funding.
Back in the day you had few choices and most roads led to banks. Then came the rise of the private equity firms, the explosion of Venture Capital and more recently Corporate Venturing. All of these groups are relatively inaccessible to the average individual, however, over the past few years there has been an increasing democratization of funding. Companies such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe provide crowdsourcing platforms that no longer require millionaire status to participate in. We see this trend increasing in 2016 with innovative platforms from organizations such as Seedrs in the UK and socially aware Chuffed, based in Australia. Greater innovation and more choice is great news for investors and for SMBs alike.
Tools like Dropbox and Google Docs are becoming more commonplace for M&A, fundraising or sharing docs with investors, yet they are also leaving young businesses at risk. Investing in a more secure option of data sharing and a document repository will be an important line item for 2016 budgets. Virtual data rooms (VDRs) can offer a secure, easy-to-use solution for businesses. Unlike most file-sharing solutions, VDRs are designed to exchange critical and confidential files. In addition to certified data centers, off-site backup for disaster recovery and encryption, most VDRs also offer an extra layer of security features – including document encryption, viewing/printing restrictions and watermarking options just to name a few.
3. Falling Cost of Business.
It’s taken less than 20 years for the internet to revolutionize how business is conducted but one of the greatest benefits has been the increased accessibility to goods and services. Greater availability has led to a dramatic reduction in prices as providers find innovative ways to distribute their offerings. Starting a business has never been easier with services from LegalZoom (company formation, legal advice), Quickbooks Online (accounting software for $30 a month!), Google (e-mail, documents, much more, FREE), Squarespace (websites, $18/mo!) and electronic payment collection systems such as Stripe and Square. Many technology companies are leveraging cloud platforms from Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft and Rackspace and are able to deliver software and apps at the fraction of a cost compared to just a few years ago. It’s never been easier or less expensive to start a business, 2016 is a great year to go for it!
4. 2016 Presidential Election winner.
Okay, we’re not going to call the race to the White House just yet, but it is possible to predict that SMBs will continue to be the apple of every candidate’s eye. On the flipside big business is under the microscope and reigning in corporate profits, particularly those that are hoarded abroad, looks like a winning campaign strategy. Everyone from Don to Bernie agrees: Small is beautiful!
2016 may provide some challenges, not least the unstable geopolitical situation, but SMBs should be able to continue to take advantage of a large pool of capital that has to be put to work, as well as the newer funding platforms that offer exciting alternatives. Data security is a topic that only gets deeper and more complex with time, however, a simple VDR solution can help protect your company secrets with no downside. Starting a new business has never been easier, or less expensive, and the great news is that our politicians seem unlikely to mess it up.
Okay, don’t quote me on that last one….
Will Reynolds, CEO of SecureDocs led the initiative to spinout the company as a new and separate business from AppFolio Inc. at the end of 2013. He oversees all aspects of the company’s strategy and development as well as building on the already exceptional team that’s come together at SecureDocs Inc.