10 Predictions, Forecasts and Trends That Will Shape Our Global Small Business World In 2010

Predictions That Will Shape Gobal Small Business in 2010The 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.


Laurel Delaney Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade.com (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 ldelaney@globetrade.com.

20 Reactions
  1. Laurel, Very fascinating list! Could you say that “Career Renegade” by Jonathan Fields is an example of “The Young and the Restless: The Radical Global Entrepreneur”?

  2. Let’s here for the Radical Global Entrepreneur, sounds like a name for a band. Entrepreneur is the now thing as so many older, corporate structure businesses fail and we move to the knowledge economy; still in its infancy by my judgement. Also, I like your observation that entrepreneurs will be the new global heroes. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t get too sexy and go to their heads!

  3. Tyler,
    “Also, I like your observation that entrepreneurs will be the new global heroes. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t get too sexy and go to their heads!”

    I agree that entrepreneurs are shaping the future in massive ways and your comment about it made me smile. Getting sexy and going to their heads . . . we’ll see 🙂

    I believe that even though entrepreneurs tend to be risk takers in life, they’re also pretty grounded individuals as well so they should be able to keep a healthy balance once they’ve achieved “stardom” LOL!

    I liked the observation of a world power online and people joining causes, missions and crusades. That’s the wave of the future to me . . .

  4. Laurel,

    An emerging trend in the food industry is the prominence of “local”. Do you think the globalization of food chains is good or bad?

  5. Laurel, what a great post! I’d never thought of #10 as venture capital. I’ve seen donation buttons on sites, but to create a virtual VC presentation of your idea, put a price on it and ask your constituency (community) to “buy in” gives an entirely new meaning to angel investors and VC money.

    Your 6-point one-sentence description in #6 of how Radical Global Entrepreneurs will turn their hobbies into businesses for about four hundred dollars will be interesting to watch.

  6. thanks for the post.
    The internet is forever changing and in some ways this is the way we also see business change. How you are found now-a-day is a lot through word of mouth and setting yourself up to be found on the internet.

  7. Very interesting list!

    Tracy, Status Now

  8. Have a big idea. What’s the big idea you are selling to your clients this year Companies have been in ‘deep detailed execution’ in 2009 – recovery, reduction, restriction. We need mentally to get our minds out into ‘grab the future’ mode.

    2. Plan meticulously and execute relentlessly. Fortune may favor the bold, but there is a difference between big ideas and big risks. As we come out of recession, companies still need to execute on a well-thought plan. The market isn’t quite ready for big risks yet, and if you have had flat growth in 2009, it’s better to do a measured approach. Measure your performance – know whether your plan is adding value by tracking your performance against key value drivers.

    3. Focus on your key strengths. Create an unfair competitive advantage by doing something you are good at, something that your company uniquely excels at. You should know, better than anyone else, what makes you money. (If you don’t, come in and see us and we’ll be happy to help you sort it out).

    4. Be hungry, really hungry for new business. This is where your investment should be going. Get on the phone, get out into the market and start asking for the business.

    5. Use partnerships. Investigate linking up with other companies who might offer complementary strengths to your own, to further increase your value proposition to potential new clients.

    Rose Lewis Pembridge Partners LLP

  9. Excellent article – well researched.

    These are changing market conditions we as business leaders must take in account and be prepared for and to capitalize upon.

    The battle between Google and China will shape the global world – one way or another – history will be made in the tug of war.

    We forget about Brazil – loved your term.

  10. Thanks to Laurel for setting up a great discussion here about global entrepreneurship. As someone who has published a number of books and articles on the topic, I thought I would add my two cents to the discussion.

    Entrepreneurs, fired by their dreams and passions, have been the engine for creating new jobs, generating revenue, advancing innovation, enhancing productivity, and improving business models and processes. Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of the free enterprise system around the world. In fact more than 500 million adults around the globe were engaged in some form of entrepreneurial activity.

    Global expansion favors smaller, entrepreneurial companies. It gives them access to capital, technology, talent, and markets that previously only big firms could reach. In fact, over 63,000 or 77 percent of all the companies involved in exporting from the United States had fewer than 100 employees. A global entrepreneur seeks out and conducts new and innovative business activities across national borders. These activities may consist of exporting, licensing, opening a new sales office, or acquiring another venture.

    We are the think tank for global entrepreneurs. Founded in 1998, the Global Entrepreneurship Institute (GEI) is a non-profit 501(c) 3 educational organization with the specific mission of advising and educating entrepreneurs around the world. Working as a global business incubator GEI facilitates introductions to investors, professional service providers, and other entrepreneurs. We have helped entrepreneurs raise over $100 million.

    Dream It! Plan It! Do It!

    Robert W. Price
    Global Entrepreneurship Institute


  11. #6. The Young and the Restless: The Radical Global Entrepreneur
    is so true. I for myself sometimes cannot beleive the amout of energy needed to make things happen…BUT also reaping the rewards today and tomorrow of work performed yesterday is an awesome feeling.
    That’s what makes it all worthwhile.

  12. Yves-Henri Robillard

    Hey Laurel,

    Thanks for sharing your prospects for 2010. They are really stimulating, and I would like to share with you a few examples of companies that came to my mind when reading your post.

    Working at EMLYON Business School, and being specifically in charge of the World Entrepreneurship Forum, I have identified a few companies/ initiatives in line with your forecasts and trends.

    >> One of the companies incubated here is VisioGlobe. Based in Lyon, France, with a worldwide scope and international partners, they are a perfect example of what you describe as “Technologically enabled future”,”Borderless Venture Capital” and “The Young and the Restless”. Developed and run by students and fresh Alumni, it has links with BIG companies based in California, and I think they are a nice illustration. Their website: http://visioglobe.com/

    >> Regarding the #4 (China Ltd), an interesting example in a more traditional sector is “Silk and Cashmere”: based in Istanbul, Turkey, on the historic Silk Road that was conveying precious goods from China to Western Europe (from 4th century BCE!), this high-end fashion company has been created by a Turkish woman who had a global vision from the beginning, Aysen Zamanpur (herself a member of the World Entrepreneurship Forum). Chinese operations and manufacturing have been integrated since its inception, and the end-result is a range of very high-quality products, considered as top-end. You can check on http://www.silkcashmere.com/ (if you do not read Turkish, pictures will speak for themselves!)

    >> Finally, of course, the “Global Small Business Heroes” and “World Power” are sounding VERY familiar to me! Not only at EMLYON Business School we consider global small entrepreneurs as role models for our students – we try to expose them a maximum to entrepreneurs to show they can turn their dreams into reality – but we also have the conviction that, together, by joining our specific entrepreneurial abilities (risk-taking, ability to design viable solutions to problems/ opportunities), we, as entrepreneurs, are able to imagine creative and sustainable solutions to our world’s problems. We consider ethics, daily behaviour and economic choices have an impact on society, and this is a reason why entrepreneurs should be more considered by political decision-makers as pivotal in facing our world’s problems. Our purpose at the World Entrepreneurship Forum is to tackle our world’s problems with entrepreneurial solutions, and to disseminate the entrepreneurial spirit in all aspects of human life. I am glad you accepted to be a pioneer member in this great adventure that began 2 years ago in Evian, and that you accepted to be a Board Member from this year. Sure, your predictions and forecasts will be of great help.

    All the best, Laurel, and thanks again for sharing your insights.

    Yves-Henri Robillard
    Director, World Entrepreneurship Forum
    EMLYON Business School

    EMLYON Business School is the European leader in Entrepreneurship Education. Ranked #8 Business School in Europe by the Financial Times, it excels in Entrepreneurship and International Development. Its training programmes, ranging from Master’s to continuous education, are aligned with its pedagogical project “Educating Entrepreneurs for the World”.
    The first worldwide higher education institution to propose the Global Entrepreneurship Programme, a one-year Advanced Master programme designed and delivered on 3 continents with Babson College (USA) and Zhejiang University (China), EMLYON Business School supports the development of entrepreneurship, creating economic and social wealth. http://www.em-lyon.com

    The World Entrepreneurship Forum is a global community of entrepreneurs of all kinds (business entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, scientists, politicians, academics) who share the same conviction that the entrepreneur is a creator of wealth and social justice.
    Their collective goal is to find entrepreneurial solutions to our world’s problems, and promote the entrepreneurial spirit in all fields of society.
    As such, the World Entrepreneurship Forum acts as:
    – A global Think-tank proposing recommendations and developing global actions to tackle our world’s problems in an entrepreneurial way ;
    – An international network of entrepreneurs supporting the development of entrepreneurial spirit in society ;
    – A centre of expertise on entrepreneurship identifying and proposing the next practices in the field of entrepreneurship.

    The World Entrepreneurship Forum has been founded by EMLYON Business School, European leader in Entrepreneurial Education, and KPMG, an international network of member firms offering audit, tax and advisory services. http://www.world-entrepreneurship-forum.com

  13. Suppliers Directory

    I think one of the best ways to keep up with the trend in 2010 is to connect with the players of your industry. Business to Business directories/resources are there to increase business dealings. One should find a way to get on with this for any serious businessman.

  14. Great post! My client and I are gleaning ideas for funding sources for his green technology rubber recycling/0 emissions
    process. Glad to have found this site for more ideas and business trends.

  15. Hi Laurel Delaney, What a good Irish name :)Wonderful and thought provoking list. I particularly like the sounds of “The Young and the Restless: The Radical Global Entrepreneur” Suddenly so called cottage industry and lifestyle business no longer need to be just that. Inspiring stuff! Keep up the great work. Warm Regards, Niall

  16. We are indeed heading towards a boundary less world as Friedman so nicely articulated. I especially liked his metaphor of globalization where globalization is knocking off our roof, floor and walls.