Name that trend

In our everyday lives, a new year is a time to make resolutions. In our business lives, it’s the perfect time to forecast the trends that will affect us most in 2010.

The trouble – or fun, depending on your outlook – is that everyone you listen to is liable to have a different opinion on what will matter in the coming year and decade ahead.

So I decided to search far and wide for this season’s most interesting and relevant small business predictions. Here are my favourites:

Trend #1: Small business owners will be the new stars of economic growth – and the media.

It’s often said that small businesses are the engines that run our economy. True enough. But all too often, the oxygen is sucked up by the business titans (heard of Bill Gates or Conrad Black?). That’s changing, says Futurelab’s Dominic Basulto, as big players like American Express – through its OPEN Forum – are focusing on small business owners. Even jetsetter magazine, Monocle, from the folks who brought us Wallpaper, recently published a Small Business Guide for 2010, a hip and inspirational resource on how entrepreneurs around the world are making a difference.

Norton_and_sonsNorton & Sons Tailoring, profiled in Monocle Magazine’s Small Business Guide.

Trend #2: Web 2.0 becomes the tool to leverage personal branding.

Wine business owner turned straight-shooting social media guru, Gary Vaynerchuk is one of a handful of leaders heralding a new era of personal branding, in which small business owners and freelancers use the Internet to build their reputation and client base. Vaynerchuk says personal branding is the only real job security any of us will have in the future – scary stuff or exhilarating, depending on your point of view.

Trend #3: Building business by fusing online to offline.

No matter how much you rely on social media tools, human one-to-one contact isn’t going away says Duct Tape Marketing’s, John Jantsch. In fact, digital will only really help if it succeeds in building real business relationships. Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook can offer great ways to find prospects and build awareness but the key will be redirecting customer interest back to the real world, for example, to events where entrepreneurs and vendors can learn more about each other and network in person.

What trends do you think will most impact your business this year?

By Adam

January 14, 2010