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The Future of Small Business, Part One

The Future of Small Business, Part One


The Intuit 2020 Report is a look at 20 trends that will shape the next decade for small businesses in demographical, social, economic and technological standards. Although it was released in February 2011, many small businesses do not have the time or simply do not know where to look to gather this type of helpful information. For an in depth look at the report and how it was developed, has all related reports and materials.  

To start off, the Intuit report promises a renewed economy from the Great Recession that we have experienced recently. The best thing that this recession has brought is cheaper technology. With gasoline and food, technology has become one of those “elastic” products that cannot just be dismissed as easily as entertainment and expensive clothing. Yes, you may not go to the movies every weekend anymore or visit your favorite restaurant as often, but your cell phone bill is still $100. This type of dedication to technology will allow the growth of computing and mobile power.

After the recession, increased demand and growing concerns for the enviroment will create a new business model. It’s all about mininmalization in the future. Small businesses reduction paired with big business marketing will converge a new market. The “pop up” businesses that were started up for direct demands and certain ideas of 2010 will not go away any time soon.

As for the 20 trends promised in the report, they are both socially relevant as well as an eye-opener for small businesses like yours. 

In Part one, the report focuses on demographics. These are ages, genders and economic class that are not only important to the future and focus of your small business but these are people that will be clients and employees. Trends in gender and age vary from decade to decade but are an expanding part of social and economic change.

1. Your kids that can jump on your iPhone and navigate like a novice? That is a direct indication of the future. We are there now, with kids having tablets in school to replace even laptops. Things they are a-changin… Tech savvy kids will direct the small business market and will be hard to ignore. As they grow up, simple everyday tasks will be part of the tech growth that we are beginning to see now. As many small businesses do include children, their interests or well-being, this is something not to be simply dismissed. Your business will change, just as dot com businesses in the 90’s realized that teenagers had disposable income and reasons to be online chatting it up… trends geared toward younger generations do not simply disappear.

2. Senior citizens are not retiring. The baby boom generation is still kicking and is unlikely to stop anytime soon. Gray-haired or not, have you seen a 70-year-old lately? Not exactly the grandma with cookies version that we have become so used to. Now-a-days, grandmas are more likely to be taking kick-boxing classes and telling you that carbs are the devil. With this lack of retirement age, jobs must be able to keep up with the demand of having new working classes enter every year, with no one leaving. Seniors will continue on their current jobs, or even opt to start new careers. Also, with this extra income, businesses geared toward the baby boomers will not falter. They must be entertained as well, you know. This creates an even bigger consumer market and allows small businesses to have a broader range of employer and employee.

3. Women are, and will be, a force to be reckoned with in the next decade. Economically and socially, women are directing the future. Women in leadership roles are  ever-increasing and “according to analysis by Boozer & Company, 870 million global women who have not previously participated in the mainstream economy will gain employment or start their own businesses”. Yea, that is right… 870 MILLION? Wow. Those are not numbers your business can ignore, and we all knew women were smarter anyway (just kidding guys).

4. We have seen cultural differences become a part of pop culture, mainly due to the expansion of the World Wide Web. Everything from Gwen Stefani’s harajuku obsession to Madonna making kabbala trendy shows how important different cultures are to today’s social distortion and trends. This will not stop anytime soon. Japan will develop more technology. China will produce more products. But this interest in other culture’s traditions is a great way to stay on top of your business. Exotic ideas have always been an interest and focal point in society. Adding an exotic allure to your small business will be a way to show your clients your knowledge and acceptance of differences. Nothing is more attractive than that.

5. The next “trend” has been in the works for the last 300 years. Remember reading about the Industrial Revolution in high school? It is not over. Urban living will continue to curb economic growth into the next decade. “With about 60 percent of the global population living in cities and suburbs by 2020” the rural-driven economy is on the outs. This allows for shorter commutes and all-around city-driven small businesses. Mom and Pop stores may not be around for much longer but that doesn’t mean that small businesses will become extinct also. It’s a different model for the future, but that doesn’t mean it’s not better.

These demographic trends do not seem entirely surprising. They have been in the works for some time but are something to keep in mind as they affect you and your clients. Whether you own a boutique or are a virtual assistant, who has the money and who is directing where the money goes are the most important trends to keep your eye on. In next part of this series will focus on social trends and, again, how they affect you and your small business.




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