Looking ahead ten years, it is easy for me to see that nearly every single person on the planet will have a global small business that hopefully will become BIG someday. This evolution will be similar to the shift from black and white television to color. If you had tried to watch black and white television for the rest of your life — which some consumers attempted to do because they didn’t have the money to buy a color set or hated change — that set someday would die. At some point, to repair it would have cost far more than a brand new color TV. So whether they liked it or not, consumers had to move with the masses and upgrade to the new color technology. They soon discovered it was the coolest invention ever and the best investment that money could buy! That’s how I envision the radical shift from small business to global small business.
Here are five reasons why it’s happening.
1. Innovation. It’s cool and ageless, as we can see by the widespread use of social-media and networking sites; innovation is only going to keep growing and getting better. It’s a way to thrive in an increasingly complex and connected world. We have to accept this, master the disruptive breakthroughs as fast as possible and stay ahead of it as best we can by making optimum use of its capabilities for growing our small businesses into global powerhouses.
Just like entrepreneurship is not for the weak at heart, innovation isn’t either, for it requires risk, a tolerance for failure and the ability to make a move on every brilliant idea that flies across your desk. Small businesses that are poised to come out of the downturn on top will be those that learn how to use innovation to drive growth (both revenue and profits) and productivity.
2. Technology. Inasmuch as we need innovation to keep technology interesting, we also need technology for the sake of constant change and affordability. It has never been easier to test new ideas for pennies and at lightening speed. For instance, look at the astronomical growth in blogs, Twitter and LinkedIn. Mobile gadgets too will continue to get smaller and more powerful, bolstering the case that going global will be a prerequisite for long-term success.
Whether you are on a beach or in your PJs, your work will get done worldwide provided accessibility is your middle name. And cloud computing, the next new growth environment, will play a major role for SMBs in application delivery. Someday, not too far off in the future, customers anywhere in the world with a mobile device will be able to text you their next big container order, and all you will have to do is hit four keystrokes (ASPD): Acknowledge, Ship, Payment and Delivery. That’s it. All of it will be pre-programmed as a typical online process for an international sales transaction. Go buy those PJs!
3. Global entrepreneurship. Because our current economic environment is so awful, the only thing you can count on in life is yourself, so everyone will not only think about whether they have the skill set for entrepreneurship but will seriously jump into it as a new way of life. Combine that mindset with the use of innovation and technology, and a heavy dose of determination to change the world, and you’ve got the ingredients for a global entrepreneurial revolution — a force not to be reckoned with.
4. Sustainability practices. Wikipedia’s definition of sustainability applies not only to our environment but also to every small business owner reading this entry: “In a broad sense, it is the capacity to endure.” Who knows this better than “us”? We will see more and more small business owners increasingly committing themselves to sustainability strategies because they extend the efficiency and value of products and services. Take, for example, The Wall Street Journal article “Sustainable Success”, which claims, “ … the companies most engaged in social and environmental sustainability are also the most profitable.” Improving social and environmental conditions is fast becoming the soul of a local or global small business enterprise.
5. Green initiatives. Sustainability initiatives usually spur green initiatives, and green initiatives are most certainly on the rise. Being environmentally conscious is not only good for our well-being, it’s even better for our planet. We’ll see more green initiatives put into play in the years to come, and consumers will begin to expect it. A good example is just this week I attended a local seminar where the keynote speaker highlighted the results of simply placing a recycling symbol on her company’s website: The small business owner grew her business from one year to the next by more than 25 percent! Together we can slowly create a better world for our companies, communities and the people we care about.
If we can send a man or a woman into space simply to experience the magic of it, we’ll absolutely be able to do business with anyone, anywhere in the world.
Follow these five best practices, reach for the stars, and watch your business take off.