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That’s what small-business owners can look forward to in 2016 — more online small-business loans, more women-owned businesses and more loan dollars guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Plus, entrepreneurs will use more business credit cards to make purchases for their companies.

As 2015 winds down, NerdWallet believes 2016 will be a big year for small businesses, especially when it comes to financing and the upcoming presidential election.

“Small-business owners, who fuel the U.S. economy, deserve more and better access to financing and other resources to help them thrive, ” NerdWallet small-business expert Cindy Yang says.

NerdWallet analyzed third-party data and tapped our team of small-business gurus to craft five predictions about what’s in store for 2016.

Summary:

  1. Entrepreneurs will go online more for small-business loans.
  • Online small-business loans account for 2% of all such loans today. That number is expected to rise to 16% by 2020.
  1. More women will become small-business owners.
  • 43% of small businesses will be owned by women in 2016, and 50% by 2020, assuming the current growth rate of women-owned businesses continues. That’s up from 36% in 2012.
  • Growing industries for women entrepreneurs include agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; accommodation and food services; and manufacturing.
  1. SBA loan amounts will continue to increase.
  • The average SBA loan size increased 82% from 2007 to 2015. The SBA 7(a) program — the organization’s most popular loan — reached an all-time high in the 2015 fiscal year, with 63, 000 loans totaling $23.6 billion.
  • SmartBiz, an online lender that originates SBA loans, processed about $1.7 billion in SBA loan applications in 2015, up from $440 million in 2014.
  1. The 2016 presidential election will affect small-business issues.
  • The minimum wage, tax reform and health care are the top three issues at stake for small-business owners.
  1. Small-business owners will use more business credit cards.
  • The total number of business credit cards in use from the top three issuers — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Capital One — grew from 9.9 million to 10.1 million between 2010 and 2015.

NerdWallet small-business predictions 2016

  1. Entrepreneurs will skip the bank and go online more for small-business loans.

Entrepreneurs don’t have to walk into a bank anymore to get a small-business loan. Increasingly, they can find the financing they need online in a fraction of the time. As bank lending continues to decrease for small-business loans, online lending is increasing, according to data in a 2014 Harvard Business School working paper.

Today, online small-business loans from lenders including OnDeck, Lending Club, Funding Circle, Dealstruck and SmartBiz account for about 2% of all small-business loans. But they are expected to comprise 16% of the total small-business loan volume by 2020, according to a 2015 report by Morgan Stanley.

Online lenders offer middle-of-the-road options for borrowers who fail to qualify for a traditional bank loan but don’t want to pay the high cost of a merchant cash advance. For a merchant cash advance, a non-bank company advances money to a business upfront, and the business pays it back daily based on a percentage of its credit card sales. Banks typically charge less than a 10% annual percentage rate, while merchant cash advance companies can charge as much as 200% APR. Online lenders charge anywhere from 7% to 113% APR.

“With online lending expanding, Main Street small businesses have more ways than ever to access the capital they need to grow, ” Yang says. “But it’s crucial that small-business owners identify the type of financing that’s best for their business.”

Business owners can compare a range of online financing options — including term loans, lines of credit and accounts receivable financing — on NerdWallet’s small-business loans page. The comparisons are based on factors including APR, loan size and what it takes to qualify.

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