The Best Is Yet To Come
Wake up, world, to today’s way of doing business. This is no time to hide behind a rock and think you have every good reason not to produce results in 2010. Guess again. All vital signs on globalization indicate that the best is yet to come.
How so? For one, longevity. Globalization has been around since well before I started my business in 1985. Even back then I was tooting the “go global” horn loud and clear, but in a very different manner – through Telexes, faxes, expensive overseas telephone calls, in person visits with customers 12,000 miles away and, eventually, e-mails.
Second, the Internet. This powerhouse tool makes it a heck of a lot easier and cheaper to find and connect with folks worldwide, transact business across borders, get paid efficiently, follow up whenever needed and continue this precious and prosperous business cycle until we retire.
So what can I tell you that you don’t already know? Let’s start with last year and review the “Top 10 Global Trends for Small Businesses for 2009” that we put together. How did we fare? Nine out of ten of our predictions are pretty much on target. No. 2, where we said dotMobi “will take global root in 2009,” did not happen. Everyone lately is reporting that mobile computing is going to be hot, hot, hot in 2010. And we can’t fail here to reference our admired and trusty colleague Steve King’s forecast at Small Business Labs, for he always stretches our minds with his spot-on trends for the year. He didn’t let us down this year, either. In particular, look at No. 7: Social, Mobile and Cloud Computing Converge. Need we say more about this segment?
Back to what you might not know for 2010. When it comes to globalization, whether for big companies or small, new trends are on the horizon. Let’s examine them.
1. Globally integrated future - better known as cheap, quick and global. Thomas Friedman summed up this notion nicely here. It boils down to the ability to access cheap tools anywhere, anytime, to get a job done. Global small businesses will take advantage of this because they are active, engaged and builders of ideas and wealth in our online world. They know how to make connections, share experience and execute on brilliant ideas. The attitude is and will continue to be: Invent the future.
2. World power. We will witness a new kind of colorful online place – the creation of clusters, crowds and armies formed right before our eyes, drawing us into their cause, crusade, mission or development that helps people solve their own problems in the world. As a result, we will be empowered to take action in real time. For example, more than 300,000 women from across the U.S. have signed up for the Love/Avon Army of Women as potential volunteers for breast cancer clinical research studies. Most were recruited through social networking resources like Facebook. These figures speak to the number of people available at our fingertips who can spread the word about anything globally, and fast. Think of it as world power.
3. Technologically enabled future. The iPhone was a tremendous breakthrough for smart phones and their users, but watch for bigger and better technology advances coming out soon in your local theater, automobile, kitchen, television and gas station. Every time technology advances, we as a global society advance. This makes for a very bright future.
4. China Ltd. China is going to show us a thing or two this year and over the coming decade. With an economy that expanded 8.9% from a year earlier in the third quarter of 2009, China is on the fast track to economic domination. To forge ahead, watch for entrepreneurs in China to borrow many of our ideas, such as YouTube, iTunes and Hulu, and improve or develop their own niche versions in China. One size does not fit all in China, and they will prove it. You can sit back and watch what takes place or jump in and ride the wave to global prosperity. How do you get in on the action? Find a trusted colleague on the ground in China who knows the language, gets around and can quickly show you the ropes on how things are done. Look for American companies that are already doing business in China and collaborate with them. Apple is selling iPhones in China, but who are their suppliers for accessories? Could it be you?
5. Thick as a BRIC. We will continue to see a power shift in the large, emerging BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China. Once considered growth explosive markets, all four might pull back this year – especially Russia, which has fallen to the bottom – and take a breather. Reassess the markets before you attempt to do business there. The only country that looks poised to outpace all others, including Japan, is China, soon to become the world’s largest economy.
6. The Young and the Restless: The Radical Global Entrepreneur. These entrepreneurs will finally recognize that what they are doing on the side as a hobby generates revenue locally – making jewelry to exhibit at an art fair, running a regional virtual assistant business out of their home or offering yoga expertise on the weekend at the local gym – and can be performed anywhere in the world with anyone at any time. They go for it full time. They chuck the security of a paycheck from a company that until now appeared to be a safe bet with good benefits but was a boring place to work. They strike out on their own, regardless of how tight their finances are. The RGE would rather own it than work it for somebody else. They know that all it takes to get an idea off the ground is a snappy name, trademark protection, domain reservation, a few words describing what they are good at, a crisp marketing campaign via all the free social media and networking platforms and voila: A global small business is born. Most likely it’s started for less than four hundred bucks.
7. Come-out-of-nowhere theory. Often referred to as the element of surprise. Look for lots of that in 2010. It’s only natural that after such a dreadful year people are tired, worn down and overwhelmed by the same old, same old. They will be ready to be bold and take calculated risks to shake things up. We will discover there is life after the near-death experience of last year. So watch for countless reverse course, correct course, cover your a** course work ahead. Here’s a hypothetical example. You read a blog post by Chris Brogan, and the next thing you know, Jack Welch stops in ‘live’ to challenge him or do a guest post. Alternatively, you learn that the new Dubai Khalifa project failed, and China’s central government is coming to its rescue. It can be good news or bad on the “come-out-of-nowhere” theory. Brace for it and figure out how to leverage the concept for your own global small business success.
8. The Age of Online Factory Direct (OFD). Brick and mortar stores will suffer enormously over the coming years as more customers like the experience and convenience of shopping online. We are already witnessing this with Google shifting into a whole new gear by marketing its own smart phone direct to consumers online. We are waiting for Amazon and eBay to follow suit and allow consumers to buy case quantities “globally” of their favorite things or household staple items: soup, detergent, snacks and toilet paper. Watch for more of this in the future.
9. Global Small Business Heroes. Say bye-bye to Tiger Woods and Michael Phelps as once famous corporate spokespeople and say hello to the engine of our economic growth: global small business owners, ordinary folks doing extraordinary things. You will start to see more and more Fortune 500 companies cutting ties with the bad-boy behavior of celebrities and spotlighting real people, doing real work to ensure we live on a safe and superior planet. It doesn’t take a village to make a difference. It takes one global small business hero.
10. Borderless venture capital (BVC). In addition to QVC, we will have BVC, caused by the fact that money and credit have evaporated. There is less money to go around, with lots more businesses that need it locally. But have you looked outside your own borders? Have you chatted with anyone who has actually secured funding from another company in another country? (I have and it works brilliantly.) More folks will be looking into borderless venture capital infusion for their businesses. Be ingenious. It’s as simple as this: Take a picture of your idea, draw one or write eloquently about it. Send it to your constituency base with a price tag attached. Give everybody a chance to contribute. Make it easy to pay. Watch the money flow in from all over the world.
Blaze new borders in 2010. Expand your circle of friends, colleagues and clients. The possibilities are endless and so is the upside. You can grow your business into a global small business. You just need to open your eyes to globalize.