7 Biggest Small-Business Trends in 2013

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- From growing a franchise to entering the cloud to purchasing a tablet computer, here are the seven best trends for small businesses this year.

1. Franchising as a career alternative is set to explode.

Franchise consulting firm FranNet saw business booming in the latter half of 2012. As of December, the company expected to finish the year at an all-time high, with about $14 million in gross revenue, up 44% year over year. FranNet had a 30% to 40% increase in clients looking to open their own franchise, says president and COO Jania Bailey.

The company expects 2013 to be another record year.

"We do not foresee a surge in hiring from corporate America," Bailey says. "We expect the high unemployment to continue due to the uncertainty of new regulations, tax issues and mandated health care. Many former executives are realizing that they will not have the job they have been looking for over the past several months. These executives are turning to franchise ownership as a career alternative."

There is also a lot of interest in franchising from younger people due to the lack of jobs. "These young people are getting out of college and cannot find employment. We see a lot of parents exploring franchising for their college graduates," Bailey says.

The International Franchise Association is not quite as optimistic. The trade association predicted the number of franchise establishments in the U.S. will increase by just 1.4% in 2013, short of the 1.5% growth in 2012, from 746,828 to 757,055 units.

Franchise output is expected to rise 4.3% this year to $802 billion, down from 4.9% growth in 2012, according to the IFA.

Franchisors and prospective investors are cautious given the turmoil in Washington as well as a mediocre macroeconomic outlook, the IFA says.

"The basic indicators of the health of the franchise sector will show a slight slowdown," the IFA said in December. "Yet the franchise sector will continue to do well within the industries where franchise businesses are concentrated."

To be sure, financing also continues to be a challenge, Bailey says, particularly for high-end concepts, yet "we have seen lending start to loosen in many areas of the country and we are hopeful this will continue to improve," she notes.

2. Are you prepared for the 1099-K?

While the Internal Revenue Service took measures last year to ease burdens placed on small businesses by 1099-K filing requirements , that form is still causing loads of stress.

"Small-business owners need to be prepared for the 1099-K form. It shows what their revenue for the past year has been. If the revenue figures reported by a business in their tax return do not match the 1099-K, it is a trigger for the IRS to issue an audit. As we all know, audits are no fun! So it is crucial to make sure your tax return numbers match your 1099-K," Outright.com CEO Steven Aldrich says.