But the truth is, when you scratch the surface and get past the historic $787 billion bailout, the financial meltdown and subsequent stimulus, 2009 was a fascinating year for business, and will most likely go down in history as one of the more groundbreaking years for innovation. And in the end, the economy is re-emerging as a better, more honest version of itself, driven largely by oft-overlooked entrepreneurial endeavors.
It's always interesting to watch innovation happen during challenging times. Twitter--the most powerful tool to hit the social media scene--got its groove thing this year. The app emerged, not only as another social connection for teenagers, but also as a weapon--a silver bullet in some cases--for small businesses. Who could have imagined the power of real-time connection and engagement with customers using the now-cliché 140-character function? And who could have imagined the excitement it generated during the worst recession in modern history? Leave it to entrepreneurs to figure out how to make more money than Twitter using Twitter--during a recession.
But looking beyond the zeitgeist of Twitter, the recession ushered in vast cultural and systemic changes. It also ushered in vast opportunities in the most unexpected places. Barebones became the overarching business philosophy for everything from restaurants to retail to services. Even as we gut it out through the recovery, this barebones philosophy is likely to stick around for a while.
As the dust settles on this chaotic, innovative year, it's important to remember that even during the worst situation, you cannot sit still--business is changing and you have to keep moving. Stagnation will get you nowhere in this new entrepreneur economy. But who wants to sit still anyway?
Some tips for surviving and thriving in 2010:
- Lead with optimism--always.
- Collaborate when practical and relevant--but don't create subcommittees.
- Focus on and build a culture of excellence, base it on trust and it will see you through the tough times.
- Be a change agent.
- Be fearless.
And keep in mind: You go where you look so look where you want to go.