The face of business is constantly changing. The only way to succeed is to not only stay on top of these changes, but to position yourself one step ahead of them.
While everyone else is writing about the biggest business trends of 2014, I’m already thinking about 2015. How will we do business two, four, or six years from now?
I don’t know, but I can say this: We’re living in an astounding period of growth in the way we conduct business all over the world.
In order to help you stay ahead of the curve, here are five very important trends I believe you should be aware of, in order to make your business run more effectively:
1. Coworking Spaces
Less than a year ago, I had never heard the word “coworking.” Fast forward several months and here I am writing this very article from a coworking space.
As soon as I learned about coworking, I fell in love with the concept. Why should I shell out thousands of dollars a month for an office the size of a broom closet, when I can pay just a couple hundred per month (or less) for a fully-furnished and connected office space?
Sure, I share the space with several other businesses, but not once has this been a problem. In fact, I’ve gained referrals just from my interactions with my fellow coworking partners.
Think about all the advantages of joining a gym. Better equipment, multiple locations, the motivation of working out with your friends, group classes, open spaces, getting out of the house. In much the same way, coworking brings the same benefits to the business world.
Just wait and see; Coworking is going to be huge in the years ahead.
2. The Rise of the Solopreneur
The term “soloprenuer” is defined by Urban Dictionary (yeah, I went there!) as “An entrepreneur who works alone, “solo,” running their business single-handedly. They might have contractors for hire, yet have full responsibility for the running of their business.”
I’ve been a soloprenuer for many years in several different ventures. I just didn’t have a word for it until now.
Well guess what? If the late 20th century was defined by the notion of big businesses and big teams, the 21st century is already beginning to define itself as a period for steady growth and nimble teams.
Sometimes that means working as a “team of one.” Huh? Yeah, think about it. With the help of technology, automation, and outsourcing, it’s totally conceivable to run a business of one. Yes, you still have a team of specialists at your disposal, but they’re not right there next to you sharing a desk.
Tim Ferris hinted at this way back in 2007 (yeah, the dark ages) when he wrote The 4-Hour Workweek. Stop thinking about how to grow a big business and start thinking about how to grow a smart business.
3. Smart Everything
Whenever I want to see where technology is headed, I look at which companies Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft have purchased in recent months. It usually turns out to be a good barometer of what is important at the moment.
On that note, just this week Google announced their acquisition of Nest Labs, maker of the Nest Learning Thermostat and Protect smoke detector. Considered to be the premier “connected devices” company, Nest believes that more than just our phone should be “smart.”
Thermostats and smoke detectors are just the beginning. From refrigerators to smart watches, everything is slowly and surely getting a mind of its own.
A couple weeks ago I even saw a “smart fork” while browsing the local Brookstone store at the mall. Say what?!
Think about all the tools we’re using in our businesses that have the potential for connectivity. The list is extensive and we’re still at the tip of the iceberg.
4. Effortless Mobile Payments
First there was PayPal that disrupted online payments. Then along came Square to shake things up in the mobile space. Now with NFC technology all the rage, it has never been easier to send or receive money as a small business owner.
Personally, I love Square. It works like a charm and it just looks professional when I swipe their credit card in front of them and ask for their signature on the screen.
This wasn’t possible just a few years ago. Having a merchant account meant being connected to a physical location and paying a ridiculous fee every month just to rent a credit card terminal. That would never work these days in our mobile economy.
5. Content Marketing
Last but not least, we end with a phrase that has been around for many years but has not been a hot commodity until now. Many marketing experts say that 2014 will be the year of content marketing.
As defined by Wikipedia, content marketing is “any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers.”
Content marketing has been around for over 100 years. Don’t believe me? Just look at what John Deere did with The Furrow magazine back in 1895.
As a marketing approach in 2014, content marketing just makes sense. Consumers are sick of being force fed advertisements. Give them something they really care about. Give them value!
I think many more companies will catch on to this thought in the months ahead, going so far as to even create entire microsites that are centered around providing content first and foremost.
Some folks have called Red Bull the “Apple of content marketing.” Rightfully so, once you take a look at what they did with their recent Stratos spectacle. That was content marketing at it’s finest.
What does jumping from the edge of space have to do with an energy drink? Nothing directly, but gosh, they sure got their brand out there among consumers.
That’s all I have for now. I’m absolutely serious when I say that I want to hear your thoughts on these trends. Am I right or am I wrong? Come on, let’s get talking. Tweet me directly with your feedback or post a comment below.
Oh, and if you enjoyed this article, it would mean the world to me if you shared it with others!