The Small Business in… 2100
Have you noticed how this ‘new century’ is already picking up momentum? Before the world knows it, it will be millennium celebrations once more. But this is another topic about Carpe Diem(Seize the Day) and dealing with the ravages of time more effectively.
Let’s fast forward the clock to 2100.
What exactly would a small business look like then? Of course one person knows as much as the next, and even the most experienced and successful business entrepreneur will not have a clue to the reality of the business world in a handful of decades time.
However, most would agree that business is going to be very differentin many ways despite the essence of capitalism remaining the same, as it has for centuries.
6 Factors of Future Possibility
1: The Place of Business
Even now in 2019 there is a shift as to where business takes place. Big organisations are downsizing where possible and automation is removing the need for people in general. With the advent of ‘AI’ (Artifical Intelligence), it's quite possible that for every 100 workers today the future in 2100 will simply require one human and one assistant to run any size of operation.
Co-working spaces for people in business is a growing trend and you can imagine that 500 businesses could be operating out of one large building soon, where each business consists of two or three spaces in a ‘pod’ which is totally self-contained. The pricing for office space in 2100 in relative terms is likely to be low, encouraging more people to consider setting up their own enterprise as governments gain a much larger spread of businesses to tax as a result.
Where it may be tempting to assume that in the future more and more people will be working from home, the chances are that this will go out of fashion in the longer term.
It is a fact that working from home only suits a certain type of business temperament. One that is focused and not easily distracted by the surroundings which accounts for very few people in reality. This is probably why so many people working from home end up in a coffee shop on their laptops.
There are many clues in 2019 as to the way businesses are headed regarding location. Fifty years ago it would be unthinkable of police stations in the UK closing their doors in favour of a call centre instead. Banks have changed the way they operate and even cash machines are diminishing in number.
So-called benefits in technology could end up revolutionising the way we live whether we like it or not. And though business is unlikely to ever cease, the place of business for industry may eventually become a key pad in one’s pocket.
Though it's fair to say that we all customers, in reality there are large sections of our communities that are not. For example the under 16's and over 85’s are less like it to be customers today, dependent on others to make purchases on their behalf.
In the world of 2100, it's feasible that children from the age of 4 and all adults with healthy mental capacity will have an easy way to make a purchase under the umbrella of a family member who would take the ultimate responsibility for any transaction.
In a very subtle way the ease of making a transaction plus the frequency in doing so, is constantly being renewed, reviewed and future proofed. One of the main factors that businesses often neglect in 2019 is making it easy to buy.
For example, many businesses will not accept the American Express card because they refuse to pay an extra one or two percent to use the brand. These same businesses fail to realise that they're doing their own business a disservice by being seen to not accept the card,and inevitably the loss in revenue over a period of the year is always likely to be greater than any so-called savings they made in turning away the occasional order.
In 2100, it's more likely that brand names like PayPal, Amex, Visa and so on will start to merge into a methodology that any business can use as a single means of making any transaction and still gain their margin.
Already, humans are being chipped by certain companies to eliminate the need for keys and security passes, and by 2100 it’s possible all of your purchases will be made by using the chip in your hand without the need for notes and coins anymore.
3: Types of Business
Businesses are likely to go ultra niche in 2100. Individuals running second and third enterprises from their mobile devices will capitalise on a smaller area of expertise rather than focus on creating a business with too many cogs.
The ‘Gig Economy’ will also have run it’s course as flexible jobbing will be a thing of the past in favour of individuals finding it much easier to do business for themselves rather than seeking employers.
Again it's probably technology that will enable this and in 2100 there is likely to be a super app that will do everything a business needs to turn a profit - and simply needs a human with a good proposition to activate a money stream. Given that this is a possibility, in such a world, there will be more businesses, and more customer choice which means that profits would be smaller, though still easier to create in the first instance.
To get a sense of future possibilities visit a site like fiverr.comand see how refined and niche people offering services in particular can be…
Of course, there will be many businesses that flourish that are totally unknown today. These will emerge through scientific discovery and technological advancement as well as the changes in human thinking, human engineering and human culture. It may also be the case that simply being human is not enough anymore - with options to upgrade one’s personal business potential via an artificial intelligence style ‘bolt on’.
4: The People who go into Business
Quite simply this is likely to be anyone. We are all aware of a tiny percentage of young people today who make millions. In 2100, this is likely to be the norm where children are given school support services while they operate their businesses rather than the other way around, either solo or with a consortium of other children or even a mixed aged group.
Personal Financial Strategy training is likely to be on all school curriculums by 2100 along side options like ‘Business Start-up Fundamentals’ and ‘Technology for Business’. The young who are largely outside the taxation sector today will be encouraged to do their part, and though it’s unlikely to be compulsory in 2100, it will be a Facebook type of choice.
Young people today feel segregated if they don’t have a Facebook account when all their friends at school are using the medium for main social interactions, all be it a sad reflection on where we are with social engagement in 2019.
5: New Start-Ups
There will be a massive uplift in new start-up businesses in 2100. This is almost a certainty, where if you don’t have something on the side that makes you money, there’s something you’re not doing right, and probably you are also losing out.
Official figures indicate the growth of start ups since the beginning of the new millennium in 2000. The higher numbers also include more younger people as well as over 60s rolling their sleeves up, and this trend is unlikely to reverse.
6: Marketing & Communications
In the early ‘noughties’ post 2000, social media was born and started to take hold. Businesses have tried to cash in - and some have been ultra successful whereas others have not done as well. And it’s fair to say that not every single business can benefit from social media, despite proponents saying otherwise.
The question is whether social media as we known it today will still be around in 2100? I would say it’s unlikely. Though humans dislike change, change is always a constant that can be relied upon and in the next 20 years - as the operators of Facebook, Snapchat, Linked-in and the hundreds of other brands will attest to… they are all looking to future customer retention and predicting future customer requirements.
While the future is now, now is always time to look to the future, particularly in communication for successful marketing.
Whatever you age or occupation, whether you are employed or self employed, one thing that is one hundred percent certain… the future is coming and we can do little to stop or side step it. it’s an all pervading force that will act upon us regardless.
Though anyone reading this will not be alive in 2100 (though some would argue that medical science coupled with technology could change this!) it’s important in running a business to always keep an eye open to scan the future horizon.
In spotting trends and changes, smaller businesses that are more capable of fast change and creative re-invention, are more likely to benefit, profit and survive.
It’s been noted that some Japanese companies have business plans that span 100 years. Though they acknowledge that what they are predicting for 2119 is unlikely to be the same as what they anticipate today, there is another benefit of doing this.
It’s to help everyone in the business create a sharper focus and journey map for the shorter term. It suddenly makes it much clearer what they must achieve in 3, 5 and 10 years from now if the perspective of the business is visible, albeit vaguely, a century from now. A very smart strategy indeed.