The 3rd edition of the Future of Small Business report series was released today. It is titled "The Emerging Artisan Economy" and the report and related materials are available at: www.intuit.com/futureofsmallbusiness. The report covers 3 broad trends that will impact small business formation and operations over the next decade:
1. Brain Meets Brawn to Create Opportunities for Small Business: The first trend is based on the concept of "barbell economics", a term we credit McKinsey as coining. It envisions a barbell structure for most industries, with a few giant corporations on one end, a relatively small number of mid-sized firms in the middle, and a large group of small businesses balancing the other end.
This structure will result in new opportunities for small businesses to flourish in nices left untouched by large corporations, and lead to more cooperation between large and small companies - particularly in the areas of sales, marketing and innovation.
2. LIghtweight Infrastructure will lead to greatly lowered barriers to starting and operating a small business. Not only will infrastructure costs (IT, manufacturing, distribution, etc.) continue to fall, increasing numbers of platform companies will provide small business access to word class buisness infrastructure on a "plug and play" basis, allowing small businesses to compete in almost all industries.
The shift to lightweight infrastructure and plug and play access will reduce small business capital requirements, shift many small business costs from fixed to variable and reduce overall risk for small businesses.
3. Borderless business: small business will drive the next wave of globalization. The next decade will see small business involvement in cross border trade expand substantially due to lower hard and soft barriers, strong economic growth outside of the U.S. and the growing impact of the global Internet and related communications technologies.
The report series is a collaborative effort between Emergent Research (that's us and this is our project blog), Intuit and the Institute for the Future.