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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 [1]” 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 [2] 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 [3].” 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 [4]” 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 [5] is a top-level domain approved by ICANN (www.icann.org) and managed by the mTLD global  registry [6] and dedicated to delivering the Internet to mobile devices via the Mobile Web. According to Infoplease.com, 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 [7] 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 [8].

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 [9]

International Business Center at Michigan State University (IBC) globalEDGE [10]

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 [11] 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 [12].”  But this time it’s different. “Marketing in the World of the Web [13]” 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 [14], Green Globe International [15], 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.

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Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade.com [16]. She is also the creator of “Borderbuster,” an e-newsletter and The Global Small Business Blog [17], both of which are well known for covering global small business.