Entrepreneurs, fasten your seat belts. Whether you’re starting up your dream business this year or managing your established small company, 2016 will be a rollercoaster ride of potential opportunity — and pitfalls. Here are five trends to watch closely so you can jump on or off at the right time for your business:
1. The online lending market will grow – but unwary borrowers beware!
The online lending sector of the financial technology (fintech) industry exploded in 2015 and shows no signs of slowing down this year. These lenders attract entrepreneurs by offering faster, more streamlined application processes than traditional banks. They are a true market disruptor: who doesn’t want to fill out an online form and get loan approval mere hours later?
But be careful. These online lenders aren’t regulated the same way as banks, and you need to read the fine print carefully. Generally, these lenders focus on merchant cash advances (with a payment arrangement that takes weekly or even daily dips from your incoming cash) or working capital loans with repayment front loaded into the first few months of the loan term. Their terms may be unclearly stated, and unsophisticated borrowers can find themselves on the hook for as much as 30 to 80 percent in rates and fees.