Top Three Trends in Small Business for 2011

Happy New Year!

Every year over at my USA TODAY column I write a piece about what looks to be the upcoming top trends in small business for the year. The past two years were, not surprisingly, dominated by the economy. Though the economy cannot really be called a “trend,” it was nevertheless so significant a story that it was impossible to ignore.

I am happy to report that this year the state of the economy does not top the list of business trends. Indeed, rather than staying alive, 2011 looks to be a year of growth. How welcome is that?

That said, here are the top three trends for 2011:

No. 3: The New Normal: A lot has changed over the past few years, some of it for the better, some not. The upshot is that what is considered “normal” at work these days has changed, a lot. Consider:

  • Most of us do not work a 9 to 5 job at one office anymore. Whether we are working at home, on the road, at night, or from a smartphone, the days of being chained to a desk during the day are over.
  • If you have a full-time job with full-time benefits, count yourself lucky. A lot of people do not, and that is not likely to change back any time soon.
  • As a result, a lot of companies are looking to do more with less, which may mean fewer people or decreased benefits.

The good news for small business: There is more contract work available.

No. 2: It’s Facebook’s World, We’re Just Living in It: Whether it was Mark Zuckerberg being named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year, the movie The Social Network being nominated as the best movie of the year, or the news that Facebook passed the 500 million user mark (and would be the third largest country in the world if in fact it were a country), it is hard to escape the fact that Facebook has changed the game.

For small businesses, this means that it is essential to learn how to tap the power of Facebook, whether that means creating your own Fan page, or advertising on the site, or even coming up with the next hot app for Facebook users. So, if you haven’t already, make 2011 the year that you finally tap into Facebook!

No. 1: It’s Apptastic! The only thing that could possibly surpass the ubiquity of Facebook is the ubiquity of smartphone apps. These little programs are changing the face of business as we know it. Apps can allow you to waste time at an airport slingshotting Angry Birds, being productive on the go, or updating your Twitter account. Whatever you choose, you definitely were not doing it a few years ago.

So here’s to wishing you a productive and successful 2011.

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