According to most look-ahead stories, 2018 will be a year defined by blockchain, machine learning and increased automationFor certain businesses -- and several industries -- that will be true. But when you examine the bigger picture, many of the year's significant business trends will have a more-personal slant.  

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According to the latest U.S. census data from 2010, more than 99 percent of all businesses in the U.S. are small businesses. While change is a constant for any business owner, a blip for a large business is felt more profoundly in a smaller company. And for small businesses, changes outside of technological advancements are already being felt.  

For the vast majority of businesses, these three trends are already rocking the boat in 2018 – in a positive way.

1. Tax reform creates growth opportunities:When the American Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law in December of last year, big businesses were deemed to be the primary beneficiary of lower corporate tax rates. But many small businesses are also benefitting from the incentives of lower corporate tax rates. 

Having additional financial latitude means many small businesses will be able to raise salaries, hire additional employees and invest in their own growth. It all adds up to more job opportunities for employees, as well as more opportunities for employers of all sizes. 

Those opportunities are already taking shape in the form of renewed optimism. According to this recent report from the National Federation of Independent Business, small businesses are incredibly confident this year – and for the first time in 12 years, taxes were ranked as a non-factor when it came to the challenges facing small businesses. 

2. Young entrepreneurs can seize the day: Ten years ago, my advice to a young entrepreneur wanting to start a business would have been much different than my advice today. A decade ago, I would have suggested getting experience under their belt before launching a business: Go out into the world, learn and then start. 

My thinking on that has changed due to the trends I’m seeing. The overall culture around entrepreneurialism is incredibly positive. There’s a lot of VC money, as well. As automation and artificial intelligence evolve, there is also a very real threat of fewer jobs being available for people down the line -- and owning a business is a great way to mitigate those circumstances. 

As such, I would encourage a young entrepreneur to start a business sooner rather than later. Young adults have grown up in this digital age, and it really is part of their DNA.

3. SMBs (finally) get serious about cybersecurity:  With cyberattacks on the rise – and the nature of those attacks becoming more sophisticated – businesses of all sizes are prioritizing cybersecurity. According to a Gartner report, businesses are expected to spend nearly $100 billion on cybersecurity solutions in 2018, and securing Internet of Things (IoT) devices is a growing concern. 

This is a big deal for small businesses. For years, small businesses have been big targets for cyberattacks. Some smaller companies don’t have the staff or resources to devote to cybersecurity. But others simply consider themselves too small to be attacked -- a mistake that puts 60 percent of attack targets out of business. 

Those three factors will have a positive impact on small businesses, new businesses and the ability for businesses to thrive. Let us know about your predictions for 2018 in the comment section below – and don't forget to read Airfoil Tech Operations Supervisor Tony Onofrio's three-part series on the darker side of today's biggest tech trends.   

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