Sure, there are lots of trends pieces going around these days, but Steve King of Emergent Research is the best expert I know on researching trends and putting them into sensible pieces. His company does some really good trends research that is often published by Intuit. , so I’d like to share his Top 10 Small Business Trends for 2011, some of them with my comments.
First, four major economic trends:
1. The small business economy recovers from the great recession.
From your lips (or keyboard), Steve, to God’s ears. May you be right on this one.
2. Variable cost business models: Small businesses will continue to focus on cost containment, bootstrapping and business flexibility in 2011. More small businesses will shift from fixed cost to variable cost business models, adopting a pay-as-you-go approach to minimize cash requirements and increase business agility.
3. Small firms reinvest U.S. Manufacturing
That’s a surprise to me. I thought U.S. manufacturing becomes less competitive. But Steve points to the weak dollar, technology, growing world markets, and the web giving more worldwide access to smaller companies.
4. Alternative financing
He cites “merchant advances, micro lending, community lending, crowd funding, and factoring.” I bet alternatives like crowd funding take longer, though, because of securities law, fraud, and those worries.
Second, five social and social media trends:
5. Social media moves to the small business mainstream.
6. Social commerce: the amazing growth of Groupon and other social commerce sites in 2010 …
7. Small businesses friend Facebook. …. small businesses are embracing and adopting Facebook as a key part of their web presence, and in growing numbers using Facebook as their primary website.
Myself, I’d like to see more examples. Is this proving to be good business?
8. New localism continues to flourish
9. Freelancers realize they’re small business owners
It’s about time.
Finally, one technology trend:
10. Working in the Cloud: No trends list would be complete without mentioning mobile, cloud, local and social computing.
No surprise there.
So I give special attention to Steve’s trends posts because 1.) that’s what he does for a living, mainly; and 2.) he’s good at it.