2013 Outlook: 7 Big Trends Affecting Entrepreneurs

As we open 2013, I would like to share my thoughts on big trends that will affect entrepreneurs and innovators:

1.  The U.S. “Fiscal Cliff” will lead to ongoing uncertainty, restraining corporate investments and consumer spending through 2013 and possibly into 2014.  Not a great time to start or build a company?  Wrong.  The best startups are capital efficient and leverage either ignored or fast-growing markets.  What are some of these?

2.  Global Mobile Cloud Boom.  IBM, HP, Amazon, Dell and others are promoting cloud services —- private, public and hybrid clouds — which are booming right now.  Now it’s possible for sole entrepreneurs and small businesses to get free CRM and other useful mobile apps (see TruNorthGlobal.com ) and cheap cloud services, which enable startups to go global out of the starting gate.  The next Amazons, Groupons and Facebooks will be built on public clouds, then expand to hybrid clouds.  The market is global so expect fast growth in the underserved BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) markets.

3.  Grassroots Services and Content Creation:   Smartphones and tablets democratize technology so it’s possible for poor farmers in India and China to create and post their own content.  Watch for a boom in grassroots services from “the bottom of the pyramid.”  The next great fortunes will be made in Africa, the Mideast and Asia, which have young, fast-growing populations.  A must read:  The Takeover of Mobile Internet [Infographic] from ChurchMag http://churchm.ag/mobile-internet-takeover/  and the first African-designed smartphone and tablet:  http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000073830&story_title=Kenya-%27First-African-designed%27-smartphone-and-tablet-launched 

4.  Mobile Learning:   Mobile devices make it possible to learn anywhere, anytime, especially with the rise of Khan Academy and thousands of other PC and mobile learning startups and universities like MIT and Harvard offering free and credential courses.  A must read:  The End of the University as We Know It – Nathan Harden – The American Interest Magazine http://shar.es/h8f6r

5.  Marketing Revolution:   The shift to grassroot mobile devices means the former product-push marketing and sales approaches won’t work.  Instead, listening and collaborating with customers who are treated as friends and guests will become the new paradigm.  Market demand and “user buzz”, not marketing hype, will take over and undermine companies stuck in past methods.  A must read: Entrepreneurs Learn New Rules for Real Influencehttp://blog.startupprofessionals.com/2012/12/entrepreneurs-learn-new-rules-for-real.html via @bloggerplugins

6.  Crowdfunding is the future for entrepreneurs.  Existing financial institutions are too slow, rigid, closed and conservative to keep up with the fast-moving pace of grassroots innovation and entrepreneurship, so we’re seeing a boom in crowdfunding and other forms of micro-financing.  A useful crowdfunding news site is Crowdfund Insider.
http://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2012/12/creative-industries-in-spain-turn-to-crowdfunding/#.UN3HMeur0ut.twitter

7.  Lean innovation is the future.  Due to ongoing recession, budget cutbacks, and high unemployment, entrepreneurs must think and act “lean” and not waste time or money.  They must reinvent business processes since we have totally new tools, markets and systems.  Reinvention or reset is the new buzzword.  Here’s a good article on lean innovation:  http://matthewemay.com/2012/12/14/7-targets-for-lean-innovation/

A young Chinese man is circling the global in search of the next Silicon Valleys.  His report on China is excellent. Offer to meet him and tell him about your region. | VentureBeathttp://venturebeat.com/2012/12/26/world-startup-report-one-mans-quest-to-document-startup-culture-around-the-world/#FJAXAiCklDhRrRlF.02 via @VentureBeat

I wish you a Happy New Year and hope that you share your energy, goodwill and knowledge with others to build a better world for all of us.  Peace!

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