Every small business owner needs to know some numbers—total revenue, profit margin, cost of goods, and the like. But there are other numbers that, as we start 2015, every entrepreneur needs to know to stay competitive and succeed.
I’ve focused on 9 key numbers that are likely to affect your small business in the coming year:
21. The number of states in which the minimum wage is increasing.
And that’s a good thing for small businesses. Yep—it really is. Raising the minimum wage may, in the short run, increase the cost of your payroll, but studies have shown that higher minimum wages reduce turn over and increase employee satisfaction. As importantly, it puts more money in the pockets of potential customers. That means a healthier economy, and that’s good for small business.
46%. The percent of Americans who live in the Eastern time zone.
Keep this in mind when planning for online or telephone customer service and sales, scheduling social media posts, and generally doing business throughout the US.
60%. The amount of time spent on websites accessed by mobile, rather than desktop, devices.
In other words, it’s likely that more than half the people using your website are doing so on a smartphone or tablet. YOUR website better be mobile responsive. Designing new websites or pages? Think mobile first. And if you can afford to develop a mobile app, do that as well.
2/2015. The deadline for “Open Enrollment” for individuals to sign up for health care plans; small businesses can start at any time.
In most states and at Healthcare.gov it’s gotten easier to sign up than when the ACA (Affordable Health Care Act or “Obamacare”) was launched, but the penalties for individuals going without health insurance are higher. In 2015, the penalty is 2% of your income or $325 per adult/$162.50 per child, whichever is higher. Small businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees still do not have to provide health insurance.
7 to 12. 1 to 5.
Providing part-time workers with regular, dependable schedules gives small businesses a big edge when recruiting. Part-time workers need set schedules to arrange for child care, attend school, hold down a second part-time job, but an appallingly high number of chain stores and fast food outlets never let workers know schedules more than a week or so in advance. Giving part-timers regular schedules is a major competitive advantage for you—use it.
20%. The amount of ALL time that people using mobile devices spend on Facebook.
It’s likely that at this moment, one out of five people on a mobile device are on Facebook. Facebook is a marketing powerhouse. That being said, it’s getting harder for businesses to reach their fans “organically,” (through normal, non-paid methods), so make your posts enticing and visual to encourage sharing.
One terabyte. Online cloud storage is getting cheaper, and you should be using it.
I’m a big believer that files and documents are safer stored online, over the Internet, than on premise-based servers or on your all-too-easily stolen laptop. You can get 1 TB of storage—which is a heck of a lot—for around $100 a year ($99 on Dropbox; $84 on Microsoft OneDrive; $120 on Google Drive) for a single user. Small business options are affordable too.
$12,500. The increased limitation of tax-deductible contributions to SIMPLE retirement accounts.
Most retirement plans used by the self-employed and small businesses have seen slight cost-of-living increases for 2015. The SIMPLE catch-up contribution for those age 50 or over also increased by $500 to $3000. Make sure you are maximizing your retirement plan contributions—you can’t count on selling your business one day.
30th. The rank of affordability of America’s Internet in relation to 33 developed countries.
This means that you have a much slower Internet at a much higher price than foreign competitors. Online customers have a harder time reaching you, and you have a harder time reaching critical online services. To help combat this, contact state and federal legislators to insist that cities and states are allowed to develop their own fiber networks and also to insure that internet providers are treated like utilities.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2015
This article originally ran in USA Today on January 9, 2015