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12 Global Small Business Trends to Watch in 2008

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Small businesses are the heart and soul of our world entrepreneurial economy. They create, inspire, and fundamentally change people's lives.

In the United States, we keep nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit—a force that built America—and people from all over the world, rather than offering criticism, are engaging in the highest form of flattery: imitation.

We must be doing something right!

Let's take a look at 12 global small business trends to watch in 2008—trends that can be embraced by any culture and will add value to any nation.

1. Embrace the world


Small businesses will embrace the world and make globalization come true. When there is nowhere to grow, branching out globally offers a wealth of opportunity, including rapid expansion.

2. Export like mad

Small businesses will discover that a weak US dollar offers an exciting, challenging, and fantastic chance to export. It makes all American goods a flashing blue light special. As a result, small businesses will start to export like mad. Their mandate in 2008 will become "Go forth and export!"

3. Do whatever it takes

Small businesses will do whatever it takes to survive—good times or bad—and going global will be the ticket to thrive. For most entrepreneurs, decisions throughout the year will be made fast, and living with the consequences will be a fact of business life.

Globalization 3.0 will be driven not by the folks in India or China but by budding "born global" entrepreneurs and small businesses taking their businesses global from anywhere.

4. Adopt the outsider lens

Small businesses are good at adopting an insider lens when making judgments while immersed in a situation. Soon, though, small businesses will adopt the outsider lens, which involves removing or detaching oneself from a situation and establishing a realistic understanding of the risks involved.

This is a cleaner lens and is more useful in doing business with the world, especially when one must be sensitive to so many different cultures.

5. Disturb the status quo

Small business will not settle for the ordinary, or for establishing rules, because they have things to accomplish. They will break rules and disturb the status quo to overcome obstacles and achieve brilliant results.

6. Lead the way

Small businesses will continue to lead the way in global trade. They typically generate 29 percent of the US export sales in a given year, and in 2005 they accounted for nearly $300 billion of the $906 billion generated by all US exporters.

Doing what's right and what matters will empower small businesses to stay the course of international expansion, even if analysis might point to a different path.

7. Prove global small business is the real deal

Global small businesses are the real deal, and they will prove it by continuing to deliver results across borders—leaving people and businesses better off than they were before.

The ideas they promote and profit from are authentic and are based on the genuine needs and desires of consumers worldwide.

8. Set priorities

Small businesses will align their goals for going global with their passion. They will set a few priorities (one being going global) and will charge on until results are achieved. They will become a world powerhouse of productivity.

9. Invest in collaborative innovation

Small businesses will realize that innovation is the fundamental driver of economic opportunity, greater globalization, job creation, improved business competitiveness, and thriving.

Social networking and media are merely the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to technology, anyone with a good idea, anywhere in the world, can now launch it in a heartbeat and for relatively little expense.

More collaborative innovation will take place this year, with further emphasis placed on orchestrating resources, reaching outside of an organization for new ideas, and fostering interaction, whether it involves your own participation or not.

10. Push forward

Small businesses will push forward to passionately engage their entire organization and their constituents, but they also will pay attention to managing the push-and-pull of interactions. This is an area where we will not have much control. Get used to it.

Prepare to use the Internet as an effective tool to create market pull by raising your company's profile and getting other people to talk about it. Push forward to build Internet share, which is critical for success, rather than mindshare.

11. Forget about size

It doesn't matter (unless you are talking about an entrepreneur's dream—and if that is the case, then dream big). With powerful software and outsourced processes, small businesses can go head to head with large companies.

More than ever, small businesses have the advantage over large companies: Small businesses are adaptable, flexible, resilient, maneuverable, and more global.

12. Ensure knowledge sharing

Small business owners will begin to foster knowledge-sharing across disciplines, making the ups and downs of the organization more transparent to all. Cooperation and sharing of ideas typically promotes the best possible results. This belief will encourage continuous improvement and high achievement in 2008.


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Laurel Delaney (LaurelDelaney.com) is the founder of GlobeTrade.com and the creator of "Borderbuster," an e-newsletter, and The Global Small Business Blog. She can be reached at ldelaney@globetrade.com.

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  • by Colleen Tue Feb 12, 2008 via web

    Hi, Laurel, from a quintessential small-but-global company that's well known to you: Star Farm Productions.

    You'd like the press release I just sent out: this month, Edgar & Ellen was picked up by Cartoon Network Latin America, and, intriguingly is about to be translated into Gaelic (!) for Irish TV. This brings us up to 78 countries for the TV series--to add to the 18 international publishers. I cross my fingers that your advice above is the route to success!

  • by Laurel Delaney Tue Feb 12, 2008 via web

    Hi, Colleen,

    Top of the afternoon to you and yours! Great to hear from you and thrilled to learn that Star Farm has gone global! You are definitely doing what it takes to thrive in 2008!

    Some dreamers look up at the sky and see heaven. I look up and see Star Farm (http://www.starfarmproductions.com/).

    Give my best to Trish and keep us informed on progress.

    Warm regards,
    Laurel

  • by Manya Chylinski Tue Feb 12, 2008 via web

    Laurel,

    Thanks for this article. As a small business myself (sole practitioner, writer) I've toyed with the idea of expanding my services beyond my borders. The biggest roadblocks at this point are me and my imagination.

    This article inspires me to think broadly and to follow up with some of my ideas!

    Manya

  • by Laurel Delaney Tue Feb 12, 2008 via web


    Hello Manya ... The world is your market but you can't sit back and think it will come to your homepage door. Put yourself out there. Just like you did here!

    Thanks for taking the time to communicate. And start executing on those ideas!

    Best wishes,
    Laurel

  • by PLM Tue Feb 12, 2008 via web

    Silly article full of platitudes and generalities.

  • by Greg Chapman Tue Feb 12, 2008 via web

    Have you seen all the parcel forwarding companies that have come about to help small businesses expand internationally? Bongo International was developed by someone I know and they are doing exceptional. Business is growing like crazy because international consumers are looking for new ways to buy US products. Check out their site at http://www.BongoUS.com

  • by Laurel Delaney Wed Feb 13, 2008 via web

    Hi, Greg,

    Did not know a thing about Bongo. Will check it out more thoroughly later. Thanks for sharing. UPS does an excellent job covering all shapes and sizes of shipments, including offering information on how to import/export your product (http://www.ups.com/globaladvisor). So often we ignore the reliable folks who've been around forever doing their work and doing it well.

    As globalization continues to roar, we will see additional startups in the shipping sphere. And the more we know, the more we grow!

    Many thanks,
    Laurel

  • by Sam Tue Mar 25, 2008 via web

    Very generic article. Nothing to take away really! Why did I sign up?

  • by Laurel Delaney Tue Mar 25, 2008 via web

    Sam ~ That's a very good question and only you can answer!

    Regards,
    Laurel

  • by Dennis Wed Nov 4, 2009 via web

    Hi Laura,

    I use a service similar to Greg's, www.usamail1.com
    They do international forwarding from the US. Besides for the major carriers like UPS,Fedex, and DHL they also allow me to ship with the US Postal Service. So far I've been very happy with their service
    Dennis

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