SOURCE: Rocket Lawyer

Rocket Lawyer

January 22, 2015 08:00 ET

Rocket Lawyer Semi-Annual SMB Index Reveals Overwhelming Optimism for 2015

Better Business Climate Leads to Strategic Hiring as Independent Contractors Are on the Rise for Small Businesses

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - Jan 22, 2015) - The majority of small businesses (61 percent) experienced tremendous growth in 2014, and an impressive 80 percent are optimistic that their businesses will continue to grow in the New Year, according to Rocket Lawyer's Semi-Annual Small Business Index, a twice-yearly report gauging the overall sentiment and economic outlook of nearly 500 small business owners in the U.S.

With a shifting small business landscape, and a strong fiscal 2014, small business owners are looking to invest in their business in new ways, including hiring more independent contractors or "solopreneurs" (experts who operate a business of one), enhancing their online presence and exploring new technologies.

Millennials and Solopreneurs Offer SMBs New Ways to Work 
More than any other demographic, Millennials are choosing entrepreneurship as their preferred profession. According to the survey, 51 percent of Millennials are self-employed, and many are choosing not to hire full-time employees to support their small businesses. The survey also revealed that Millennials are hiring part-time employees more than any other age group (55 percent) as compared to Baby Boomers at 42 percent, followed by Gen Xers at 37 percent.

Hiring is up from last year, with a 27 percent increase overall. Given the movement towards entrepreneurship and solopreneurs in 2015, 54 percent of SMBs are looking to hire more independent contractors, over part-time workers (44 percent) and full-time employees (40 percent). 

"Launching a pop-up restaurant with a small staff requires a flexible infrastructure and in-depth knowledge of California labor laws for both part and full time employees," said Greg Lutes, owner of 3rd Cousin SF and Rocket Lawyer customer. "With Rocket Lawyer, I was able to easily sign up, incorporate my business and develop an employee handbook, which helps ensure I have the business foundation in place to focus on what really matters -- serving great food and providing great service to my San Francisco customers."

Increasing the Online Presence
A strong online brand is the new gateway to business success, with 29 percent of small business owners indicating that growing their online presence is their biggest concern. To do this, businesses are turning their hiring lens to skilled employees who can help develop new online strategies and create standout marketing and branding campaigns. Thirty-five percent ranked growing an online presence as their top priority in 2015, and SMBs are hiring for marketing (27 percent) and sales (37 percent) positions more than any other field.

SMBs Transition to Mobile Payments & Sharing Economy Apps
Keeping up with new technologies is also top of mind for small businesses, with many beginning to look at mobile payments to bolster customer experiences and benefit their bottom lines. According to a Forrester report, mobile-based payments are expected to reach $142 billion in volume by 2019, an increase of 184 percent from about $50 billion currently. With this in mind, 60 percent of small businesses surveyed said they would consider adopting mobile payments in 2015. Of those interested in mobile payments, 68 percent believe it will offer their customers a more seamless and simple payment experience. Not surprisingly, Millennials are the most willing to consider adopting mobile payments (71 percent), as they believe it will streamline the payment process, and provide new opportunities to compete in an expanding market (51 percent).

Small businesses are also employing mobile in other ways, with almost a third using sharing economy apps for their business. Of those who use them, the most frequently used apps are ridesharing (36 percent) and navigation apps (23 percent).

"It's inspiring to see small businesses constantly seek new and innovative ways to stay competitive and grow," said Charley Moore, founder and CEO of Rocket Lawyer. "However, with experimentation, comes new legal and contractual risks and opportunities. Rocket Lawyer was founded to support SMBs as they navigate the ever-changing small business legal landscape."

Legal Guidance Reigns Supreme: Importance of Staying Legally Compliant
This past year, a flurry of new laws and legislation went into effect that directly and indirectly impacted small business owners, including immigration reform, the Affordable Care Act and minimum wage increases. Twenty-seven percent of SMBs are concerned about not understanding, or being able to comply with, changing government regulations.

Business owners also revealed that the biggest legal issue they experienced this past year was contract negotiations (27 percent), an area that will continue to grow in significance as SMBs increasingly turn to the solopreneur, contract and part time employee hiring pool. Payment collections (19 percent) and employment issues (11 percent) were additional high ranking legal issues for SMBs in the second half of 2014. In order to mitigate these legal headaches, Rocket Lawyer encourages all its small business customers to keep good counsel and stay up-to-date on compliance issues. With Rocket Lawyer's On Call network and recently enhanced "Ask a Lawyer" feature, SMBs should never feel far from quality and affordable legal advice that can serve all their business needs. 

About Rocket Lawyer™
At Rocket Lawyer, we believe everyone deserves affordable and simple legal services. Since 2008 we've helped over 20 million families and small businesses take care of their legal matters -- so they can focus on what really matters. From free legal documents and online business incorporation to discounted rates with experienced attorneys, we're there to help every step of the way. For more information on Rocket Lawyer, please visit http://www.rocketlawyer.com and follow Rocket Lawyer on Twitter and Facebook.

Survey Methodology
Rocket Lawyer surveyed 489 nationwide small business owners who are Rocket Lawyer members or have used Rocket Lawyer's services from December 8 through December 20, 2014. The margin of error is 4.42 percent.

Contact Information

  • Kristin Farrell
    for Rocket Lawyer PR
    rocketlawyer ( at ) rocketlawyer.com
    415.963.4174 ext. 10