Top 10 Global Trends for Small Businesses for 2009

global trends for small businessesThe optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. ~ Winston Churchill

In looking ahead, what’s new and different from our “Resolutions to Do Business Globally in 2008” article from last year? Not much. From embracing the world to exporting like mad to doing whatever it takes to survive (and thrive) in good times and bad — everything mentioned is still relevant.

And even our colleagues at Emergent Research were spot-on when they wrote about 10 trends that would impact small businesses in 2008. One of them was right in line with our “exporting like mad” forecast:

“The declining dollar accelerates the long-term trend towards small business globalization: Several long-term trends are driving the growth of small business cross-border trade and the globalization of small business. These include increased global economic growth, reduced trade barriers and the growth of the Internet and other connective technologies. Adding to these longer term trends is the decline of the US dollar versus almost all free-floating currencies. The dollar’s decline is creating broad, new cross-border trade opportunities for small businesses and 2008 will see substantial growth in small business exports.”

As the Fed cut short-term interest rates to nearly zero, exporting continues to remain strong. I am not an economist, nor do I pretend to be, so I had to do some serious critical thinking and deep reflecting about everything I have read over the past couple of months (looking for recurring themes and patterns that become trends) that might tell us what we need to know to prepare our businesses for globalization in 2009.

Here are the top 10 global small business trends for 2009:

1. Disruptive innovation will be both the coolest and hottest new growth strategy in 2009 because it will transcend all boundaries and transform businesses.

Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor who focuses on innovation, discusses this very same topic in “How Hard Times Can Drive Innovation.” Also, a hip report by Trendwatching covers half a dozen consumer trends for 2009 and supports Christensen’s, and our theory, with prediction No. 6: Happy Ending. It states:

“At the same time, this is a great moment to innovate: shrinking budgets and diminishing revenues from existing offerings normally bring out the best and most creative in business professionals.”

Economist Joseph Schumpeter popularized a similar concept called “creative destruction” in 1942 in his book, “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy,” that describes the process of transformation that accompanies radical innovation. Look for more of this type of disruptive innovation in 2009.

2. dotMobi will take global root in 2009.

DotMobi is a top-level domain approved by ICANN ( and managed by the mTLD global  registry and dedicated to delivering the Internet to mobile devices via the Mobile Web. According to, there are more than 2 billion cell phones in use worldwide and that number continues to grow because many folks cannot afford a laptop. For a lot of people in emerging markets, the mobile phone will be the primary way to access the Internet. Learn more at, “Mobile Web Remains a Mystery to Most”

And catch the real power of it here. If Coke is on to it, it’s already global.

3. Diverse global business partnerships will shine and outperform those businesses that don’t make these critical alliances.

By having a diverse range of business partnerships worldwide, we are better equipped to navigate the global marketplace. We will see more partnerships formed between big and small companies. Big companies still have money to spend, especially on disruptive innovation, and it’s the little companies that are the expert disrupters, shaking things up, making things happen and getting things done.

4. Exporting (from the USA) will prevail in the first quarter of ’09 and might start to strengthen later in the year.

Keep tabs on the global market at World Bank to see when there is a “sign” of crimp in the export boom.

5. Twitter will replace the “call me” statement with “Twitter me” due to technology, convenience and time constraints.

In case you are clueless about it, dive in here, where you can learn everything you want to know about Twitter:  Birds of a Feather Twitter Together  and Twitter Goes Mainstream.

6. Entrepreneurs and small businesses will learn, if they haven’t already, everything there is to know about how to take a business global.

Check out these educational resources:

U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce

International Business Center at Michigan State University (IBC) globalEDGE

U.S. Department of Commerce and Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Fostering Entrepreneurship Worldwide

7. Optimism will fuel global small businesses that have the guts to press on, even in the face of insurmountable obstacles.

Seth Godin does a good job talking about this in the “Top Twelve Ways to Grow Your Business in a Down Market.”

8. Women entrepreneurs will rule the global marketplace.

Women are already starting businesses at twice the rate of men and their efforts to expand a business internationally will be a force to reckon with in the coming years due to social entrepreneurship, social media and social networking platforms that make it so much easier to do good things collaboratively —  which women are naturals at — while growing a business global.

9. Trusted crowds will become profitable clouds.

Out of necessity, smart global marketers will become possessed with customer attention in the way that Theodore Levitt was obsessed with getting and keeping customers in his important marketing paper, “Marketing Myopia.”  But this time it’s different. “Marketing in the World of the Web” touches on the power of social networks — something that did not exist in Levitt’s time — and how they will reshape and reconfigure individual behavior worldwide.

10. Green and global are a marriage made in heaven because everyone wants to save the world.

Think it’s not catching on? Wake up and smell the green roses! Green, environmentally responsible initiatives, is the new Crimson for Harvard. And then there’s Global Green USA, Green Globe International, Green River (oops, that’s legit a soft drink)! Got green? Better claim it before someone else does.

Speaking of green, just like everybody claims to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, everybody will stake their claim at being a global entrepreneur in 2009.

* * * * *

Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of 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.


Laurel Delaney Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of (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 Delaney at

32 Reactions
  1. Laurel,

    Another post full with insight! Is the .mobi site designated to be viewed in mobile phone? I love the quote by Winston Churchill. He was a smart man. Scott Shane has mentioned Joseph Schumpeter and now you. I have to look into his book.

    If you are interested to export and do business in Scandinavia, don’t hesitate to contact me. I am interested to enter the North American market.

  2. I’d like to also add that the world of small business and entrepreneurs will explode in using other contracted help and freelancers for everything from marketing to accounting, legal and IT help. With millions losing their jobs, the network of entrepreneurs and freelancers will expand to a level we’ve never before seen.

  3. Interesting observation from you John. An expanded level of entrepreneurs and freelancers to a number we’ve never seen before. Anyway how many percent do you think will be the growth of this network?

  4. I was also very excited by Coke having gone .mobi but I just visited the site to check it iut again and it’s gone. There’s just the Coke logo now and a message that says “Sorry, this service is no longer available”
    Well that was very shortlived. Wonder why they stopped using it?

  5. The cocacola mobi site has a christmas promo on it. The service that is no longer available is Coke Christmas. The site scores 5/5 at that makes it 100% mobile compliant. They stopped using it?

  6. Interesting stuff, some of it more compelling than others though.. Cloud computing will be an amazing change but with 2 terabit storage on a finger nail chip… I don’t know if it’s necessary any more.. Cloud computing is the answer to huge server farms using half the worlds electricity to stay cool… new memory technology has kind of gotten around that problem? is used for promotions rather than a fixed site.. dotmobi is very exciting for the mobile marketing teams…. numerous ‘temporary’ sites have been released already.. I really must get mine done before someone beats me to it!

  7. I am not familiar with the whole .mobi thing. Can anyone explain a little bit more about what it is and what benefit it serves?

    I agree with the Twitter statement too. People are realizing how much faster they can communicate by using Twitter. No more playing phone tag and worrying about time zones.

  8. In late 2008, the US joined the rest of the world in having Text Messaging (SMS) surpass voice calls via cell phone. Your comments on Twitter Me are dead on. I’m actually starting to think that Twitter helped turn this tide. I work with a company that uses SMS as its sales management platform (to let reps give their sales activity results and status via cell phone) and we’ve watched and researched how the rest of the world uses text messaging, in all sorts of ways, and the US market did not use it nearly as much.

    I’m sure Twitter has helped…
    Cool post. Thank you for all your hard work in creating it!

  9. Very interesting list. I want to emphasize that diverse global partnerships will have a large impact in the coming months, but it is critical that businesses go into these with their eyes open and properly counseled. These present a lot of legal pitfalls (contract requirements in the several countries of operation, tax liability, business structure and organization, intellectual property considerations, etc.) that most businesses have not had to consider before and must be clearly outlined to protect each party’s interests. The growth potential is there, but must be managed under a different set of parameters.

  10. Holly from

    Laurel, thank you for your article and for your trackback.

    I use twitter frequently and find it to be a great way to “meet” people with similar professional interests who might not be accessible any other way. I also use LinkedIn’s new groups feature, which allows members to subscribe to group discussions as well.

    To answer Amanda, .mobi is a domain extension like .com or .net that is designed specifically for websites that are designed to be viewed on a mobile phone. It’s only two years old, which is why you may not have heard of it. I write about it on my blog, which is linked above as “catch the power of it here” and there are other sources as well, such as (the actual website).

    Thanks again, Laurel, and I look forward to reading more of your articles in the future.

    Holly Kolman
    @mobienthusiast on twitter

  11. U812 and Abel Bodide,
    Thanks for pointing out that the Coke .mobi site is used for promotions. That’s actually a very clever idea. I saw the Christmas prom they were running and it looked good. What I did not realize was that it was a promotion that’s why i was surprised that thre was no active content right now. I do notice however that their Diet Coke .mobi site has some very interesting content on it right now. Here’s the link:

  12. To all, thank you for your interest, amazing enthusiasm and for sharing your wisdom. I learn more from all of you than you ever imagine!

    It looks like all your questions have already been answered. If I missed anything, let me know.

    Much appreciation,

  13. .mobi has not been able to prove that it has any kind of future whatsoever. I agree with the article in that there is an amazing future in the mobile web, but it’s not with .mobi.

    Sure, .mobi was made with the intent on making it the default extension for the web. But the fact is people didn’t buy into it.

    (Note: there is nothing special about the extension. It doesn’t work better when viewed on phones. It’s no different than .com, .net or .org.)

    I’m assuming the author meant to make “mobile web” #2, but figured .mobi meant the same thing. It simply does not.

  14. Scott — my apologies for the delay in responding your post.

    What makes you think .mobi will go nowhere? Please elaborate because I’m sure we’d all like to know where you are getting your information from.

    And maybe Holly will contribute more to the dialog here too.

    Have you seen or used this ( which provides an analysis of how your web content is likely to function on a mobile device? I notice it is not reflecting updated cell phones but when you do a test (as I did with it says: It will definitely display very poorly on a mobile phone!

    Check it out and please weigh in further with your thoughts because I think this is a very interesting topic.

    Someone else just emailed me directly challenging the same notion as yours … hopefully he will add his two cents too.

    Thanks for emailing.

  15. Didn’t realize the largest PR firm in the world, Edelman, is taking on .mobi too.

    Check out Edelman’s homepage ( and click on the graphic icon fourth from the left at the bottom of the page to watch a video.

  16. I am in the domaining industry myself. And though I am not a full time domainer, I do consider myself knowledgeable about the industry.

    .mobi was considered a decent bet for success, so much so that domainers like myself (Though i never bought a single .mobi) pounced on the extension and registered dozens. Now, the .mobi owners are all disappointed domainers who are selling their domains for nothing or letting them drop. Sure, major keywords will hold some value, as with any extension. But just how valuable is or

    Another thing going against .mobi is that it is no different than the other extensions. Sure, the one rule is that you need to have a mobile-friendly site, but you can do that with a .com, .net or any other extension. And though some may put it off as silly, .mobi is one more letter to press on your mobile. The point is that no one goes on their mobile phone and types in They will still type

    The complete lack of any legitimate .mobi sites ~3 years after launch is further proof that the extension hasn’t made it. Yes, i know there are some sites out there. But I can guarantee you that you can ask 100 people if they know any .mobi sites off the top of their head and you will get 100 blank stares.

    .mobi is so much an afterthought that it doesn’t even make the domain news anymore. Yea, it has a few people who cling on to the potential, but you will find that these are often people who invested a ton of money in the extension. Of course they will cling to it, they have a huge financial stake in the extensions success.

    The extension itself is at the butt end of jokes in the industry:

    And all .mobi auctions bomb, for example:

    Here are some of my peers who agree with me:

    These links lead to what most would say are leaders in the domaining industry. These are guys that make their living off of domain names.

    Ultimately, my point is that you will find much better success with a .com (At least here in the States). And if you are the owners of and want to have a legitimate mobile presence, then you will have better success with, or even flowers.comm than you will with

  17. Amazing –useful — information Scott. Thank you so much for sharing. We very much appreciate it.

    I feel a whole heck of a lot smarter about .mobi thanks to you!

    Let’s see where it takes us.

  18. In case you didn’t see this in today’s WSJ (2/23/09):

    Small businesses have to decide whether creating a Web site for mobile devices is worth the expense.

    And Scott, you definitely need to contact the author :-)!

  19. Thanks for a great article Laura. Working a lot with developing areas as well as highly developed areas, I see increased mobile use and often as single entry point. But I have to agree that .mobi is just one of many solutions.

    I hope we are reduced to Twitters, but one never knows for sure. It sure is nice to get a complete sentence every once in a while.

    One thing I would like to add to your list is the opportunities to build bridges for growing business in both developing and developed countries. Small businesses will have greater impact on reducing poverty.

    I look forward to reading more. Keep up the great work! Cheers from Sweden.

  20. Well look it here:

    And thanks Heidi for your recent addition to this piece!

  21. “Exporting (from the USA) will prevail in the first quarter of ‘09 and might start to strengthen later in the year”.

    I live on the territory of Post Soviet countries (Ukraine, Russia) and we always feel the Exporting policy of Your country!
    And in many cases it is connected with technologies.
    So it is quite right!

    With all regards.

  22. Gerard E. Stein

    I am french and after an international career with IBM and several start-up, I co-founded a NGO called EVE-olution Foundation Inc., we are global member of UN Global Compact and also from Globe-Women. Our motto “The Global Soft Power of Change”
    We rely, at EVE-olution foundation Inc., on the power of a global tribe of women entrepreneurs to give our children more chances to live in a safer and healthier planet than predicted by the best world experts.It is why in developing and emerging countries (80% of our planet), our NGO is acting to empower economicaly women entrepreneurs. They are the architects of change.
    We are coaching them by giving them the “Export Fever” because as Irene Natividad said “Small Business trading across borders grow 6 times faster than domestic one” If you like to know how we are doing that, do not hesitate to come back to me

  23. Don’t doubt that Porsche will put such a low-volume halo car into production, either. Nearly a decade ago, the automaker employed a similar tactic with its Carrera GT, which began life as a racing car prototype but was eventually offered for public sale after sufficient interest was generated. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – Porsche: build it and they will come.