2011: The Year Of …
I am looking at my crystal ball and wondering what the freshness of a new year — the Chinese year of the little rabbit — will bring us. This past year was filled with crazy uncertainty and financial woes that just wouldn’t let up, making it exceptionally hard to grow anything, let alone a business. So, hoping for an improved new year, I’ve come up with a list of trends to watch that will help your business prosper if you plan ahead.
1. The year of generating revenue. From answering telephones to sweeping floors, every act of running a business will have this thought behind it: How can we generate revenue? Cost centers will become revenue centers and revenue centers will become new, profitable businesses.
2. The year of small businesses going global. Folks will start to understand that you can elect to stay small — shop and sell local — or you can grow comfortably by reaching out to the world for business. And where will the growth be? It will most certainly be outside the United States. Try China, India, Russia and Brazil. Please don’t use the excuse you don’t know how to take the first step to go global! The Internet is chock-full of resources to show you how.
3. The year of making comments. Love that new product? Make a comment. Hate that restaurant you tried last week? Make a comment. Ticked off because the toll guy couldn’t tell you how many miles to the next exit? Make a comment (MAC). Say good-bye to merely clicking on ‘Like’ or ‘Recommend’ and welcome the new age of MAC anywhere and everywhere. This communication is born out of necessity and brought to us by sophisticated technology. Great insights and new reports will be generated as a result of people expressing their opinions on every aspect of their lives. Companies will know where they stand within hours, not months, of a new product or service debut.
4. The year of people feeling like idiots because they ignored cloud computing. Just as blogs, Facebook and Twitter reshaped our e-universe, cloud computing will alter how we work (e.g., cut costs yet add capabilities) and collaborate with people anywhere in the world. I won’t go so far as to say the PC desktop is dead, but I will say this: Cloud computing makes it pretty attractive to do work anywhere at anytime with anyone (makes No. 2 more of a breeze, too)! According to ABI Research, by 2015, more than 240 million business users will access cloud computing services through mobile devices.
5. The year of the minimalist. We used to make the statement, “I’m getting by,” but now you’ll hear, “I live the life of a minimalist; I love what I do and I am fulfilled.” What’s changed? Attitude. Business owners are more value-conscious and way more selective in how they do things. They are discovering that life is not about how much money they make or how many luxury vehicles they own. It’s about making a difference in our world and making the most of what’s right in front of you: family, cherished friends and, if you are lucky, kind-hearted colleagues. So nurture that nonprofit, bake that meatloaf, light that dollar store candle and get ready to surround yourself with those you love because that’s what can bring immense joy to your life.
6. The year of a new kind of appiness. Order it up! Expand your business. Track it. Share with others. Leverage it to the hilt! Apps will become something SMBs can’t live without. Enterprise innovation will explode due to the sophisticated and economical development of apps for just about anything. Small businesses will be able to stay connected and be more productive than ever worldwide.
7. The year of ‘me’: mobile entrepreneurship. You’ve heard of small business. Big business. Global small business. Welcome to the era of me: ‘mobile entrepreneurs.’ People setting up this type of business have no ties to any particular place and wish to strike out on new paths and explore the world as they run their business. Tablets and other cool, new gadgets will feed this ‘me’ frenzy.
Now is the time to capitalize on these trends in store for small businesses. Go find your own (h)appiness!
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Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade (a Global TradeSource, Ltd. company). She also is the creator of “Borderbuster,” an e-newsletter, and The Global Small Business Blog, all highly regarded for their global small business coverage. You can reach Laurel at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @LaurelDelaney.