Small Business Labs on Trends for 2011

Sure, there are lots of trends pieces going around these days, but Steve King of Emergent Research is the best expert I know on researching trends and putting them into sensible pieces. His company does some really good trends research that is often published by Intuit. , so I’d like to share his Top 10 Small Business Trends for 2011, some of them with my comments.

First, four major economic trends:

1. The small business economy recovers from the great recession.

From your lips (or keyboard), Steve, to God’s ears. May you be right on this one.

2. Variable cost business models:  Small businesses will continue to focus on cost containment, bootstrapping and business flexibility in 2011.  More small businesses will shift from fixed cost to variable cost business models, adopting a pay-as-you-go approach to minimize cash requirements and increase business agility.

3. Small firms reinvest U.S. Manufacturing

That’s a surprise to me. I thought U.S. manufacturing becomes less competitive. But Steve points to the weak dollar, technology, growing world markets, and the web giving more worldwide access to smaller companies.

4. Alternative financing

He cites “merchant advances, micro lending, community lending, crowd funding, and factoring.” I bet alternatives like crowd funding take longer, though, because of securities law, fraud, and those worries.

Second, five social and social media trends:

5. Social media moves to the small business mainstream.

6. Social commerce: the amazing growth of Groupon and other social commerce sites in 2010 …

7. Small businesses friend Facebook. …. small businesses are embracing and adopting Facebook as a key part of their web presence, and in growing numbers using Facebook as their primary website.

Myself, I’d like to see more examples.  Is this proving to be good business?

8. New localism continues to flourish

9. Freelancers realize they’re small business owners

It’s about time.

Finally, one technology trend:

10.  Working in the Cloud: No trends list would be complete without mentioning mobile, cloud, local and social computing.

No surprise there.

So I give special attention to Steve’s trends posts because 1.) that’s what he does for a living, mainly; and 2.) he’s good at it.


  • Daria Steigman says:

    Hi Tim,

    Timing is everything. My new blog post (at looks at trend #9 and questions whether this really is the year that freelancers become business people. While we all agree it should happen, I’m not convinced it will happen.

  • John Krech says:

    Great post – trend 2 – variable cost models and minimum cash requirements can be greatly represented by economic value added models which factor in the net operating income after taxes minus the cost of capital. This is how one can optimize financial performance or better weigh the wealth generated by a business activity.

  • Steve says:

    Tim: Thanks for the kind words and your support. We’re very excited about the changes going on with small manufacturers. The good news is they are becoming increasingly competitive.

    The bad news is they are doing it with automation and increased productivity – we don’t see a lot of job growth from this sector.

    We’re going to be providing more examples of Small Business use of Facebook in the coming months.


  • Tweets that mention Small Business Labs on Trends for 2011 -- says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gretchen
    Glasscock. Gretchen Glasscock said: Small Business Labs on Trends
    for 2011: TweetSure, there are lots of trends pieces going around
    these days, but … […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *