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Old January 4, 2011, 10:26 PM
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Default Top 5 trends for small business as 2011 starts

I am not allow to post the link yet, but found this very interesting article to share and enjoy.

By Steve Strauss for USA TODAY
OK, here we are at the start of 2011, and based on the Top 5 Trends this year, it is a year that looks to be substantially better for small business than the past two.

Top 5 Trends

5. The rise of the mob discount: No, it is not just Groupon that I am talking about, but Groupon is a good place to start. Groupon (or Group Coupon) offers incredible deals if a certain number of people sign up for the offer. If so, they can expect to get "50 to 90% off." For the small business owner who participates, it is a double-edged sword: Yes, you can get a lot of traffic, but at what price?

6-10: Read the first part of the column

Does it work? Someone is using it. Groupon recently turned down Google's $6 billion buyout offer.

But the new mob discounts go well beyond Groupon. Wal-Mart (WMT) is using Facebook to try something similar called the "CrowdSaver." On Facebook, Wal-Mart posts some potential great deal. If enough people "like" it, the deal then goes live and everyone gets the discount.

Or consider the "flash sale." By making limited-time offers available on Twitter and Facebook, businesses like Dell Outlet (DELL) and the ice cream shop down the street create immediate sales.

4. Mobile marketing creates opportunity: How do people find out that the ice cream shop is having a sale if those folks are not already Twitter followers of that business? Mobile search. The proliferation of smartphones, iPads, netbooks, and tablets means that consumers are increasingly searching for businesses on the go as much as they are while sitting at a desk.

So your small business needs to be present on mobile local search results, and you might also consider creating geographic-specific mobile search ad campaigns. The next frontier in sales is going to be mobile searches and ads that result in on-the-go purchases.

3. The New Normal: Yes, I did say that the economy was not going to dominate my list this year, and it doesn't, but I never said it wouldn't make an appearance, and here it is: The long-term fallout from the Great Recession is that work has changed, forever. Businesses are looking to do more with less, at less cost, and will continue to do so. Working smarter and cheaper is one aspect of the New Normal.

Another is that the days of full-time jobs with full-time benefits are ending. If you have one of those, count yourself lucky. Businesses will continue to cut costs by creating more part-time and independent contractor work.

The good news for small business is that more contract work will be available.

2. It's a Facebook world and we are just living in it: Evidence of the total and utter dominance of Facebook is all around us: Mark Zuckerberg is Time's Man of the Year. The Social Network is one of the top movies of the year. Facebook topped 500 million users.

It is the very ubiquity of Facebook that has changed the business game.

At a recent webinar I gave, someone asked, "Does my business have to be on Facebook?" Of course the answer is no. But Facebook is where the action is right now, so it would be dumb not to have a presence there. Whether it is having your own Fan page, or learning how to advertise on the site, or using it to grow your reach and brand, tapping the popularity of Facebook is the way to go right now.

And the top trend in small business for 2011 is.. .

1. It's Apptastic! The only thing more ubiquitous, more buzz-worthy, than Facebook is the popularity and ubiquity of smartphone apps. People are using apps every day, all day long, not only to have some fun and kill some time (death to pigs by Angry Birds I tell you, death!) but to run their businesses as well.

The smart small business will tap into this trend by both finding and using those apps that make running their business simpler and more profitable, while also offering their own apps that make buying from them faster and easier.

So what do you think? Am I on the mark with my list this year or did I miss it? Post your comment below.

And a happy 2011 all!
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