I found Anita’s recent blog entry on spotting trends fascinating. One key point she made was that she is not necessarily interested in trends in general. Rather, she becomes interested when trends start affecting small businesses.
My interest has always been to track trends before they affect us. I like to be way out in front, and that’s why I follow closely anything that has to do with global small business trends.
For example, when blogs burst onto the cyberspace scene, I knew it would be huge (and so did Anita!). I could tell by the number of folks setting them up — in 2004 there were about 400,000 blogs and now there are more than 73 million — and the way in which people expressed themselves. It made me rethink my all-time favorite Madonna song, “Express Yourself,” and just how on-target she was about that concept back in the late eighties. Just think what she could have accomplished if she’d had YouTube back then!
Suddenly, thanks to all the Internet tools, our world has changed because technology lets us do just about anything in front of everybody on the planet. For example, we no longer have to rely on the media to feed us news. Instead, we can rely on the collective genius of a select group of elite bloggers to fill us in on what’s really happening in the world.
The rollout and huge popularity of social networking and social media tools are changing the way we do business and how we connect with people on a global basis, to the point that the only thing holding us back is our lack of imagination and our shortsightedness about how to use the technology.
When someone develops a social networking platform that enables us to easily create our own environment (like MySpace or Facebook) geared toward people like brain surgeons, litigators, and turtle watchers, for example, we will see the numbers of social networking zones or hubs grow to numbers that will rival blogs. Ordinary global citizens will create their own niche social networking environment with specific, targeted demographics. We might use these tools to form strategic groups (pursuing a similar strategy), to gather all our global buyers in one place, or to monitor complementary products and services. It will be niche social networking aimed at anything, anywhere.
What else is ahead? Ever hear of manga? You will be reading a lot more about it over the coming months. The heads-up began in Wired magazine’s November issue, with Dan Pink’s article Japan, Ink: Inside the Manga Industrial Complex. Jason Thompson has already published a book on the subject, Manga: The Complete Guide, in addition to his ten-page article in the same Wired issue, How Manga Conquered the U.S.: A Graphic Guide to Japan’s Coolest Export. Dan Pink is so into it that he spent the spring in Japan and also is writing a book on the subject, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need, to be published in 2008.
What does this mean? These people are onto something big. Will it impact us on a global, small business basis? You can count on it. How so? Hard to say. What to do? Keep your eyes and ears on the street and your nose to the grindstone. And hire your graphic animation artist soon.
* * * * *
Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade.com. She is also the creator of “Borderbuster,” an e-newsletter and The Global Small Business Blog, both of which are well known for covering global small business.