We're often asked about how we go about our work of identifying, tracking and forecasting the future of small business.
One of the key tools is identifying and studying edge communities.
We spend a lot of time finding and interacting with edge communities. We do this because mainstream shifts and changes generally start in these communities.
A good example of an edge community we've been focusing on for several years is digital nomads.
These are folks with location-independent work and lifestyles that allows them to roam the earth working anywhere that has a good Internet connection.
Digital nomads are extreme remote workers who are also looking for an alternative to the traditional 9-5 life.
This makes them a double edge community. They are exploring alternative lifestyles and developing new and better ways to work remotely.
A great quote describing the digital nomad lifestyle comes from the Huff Po article How to survive as a digital nomad:
What unites most of them is the fact that they refuse to settle for a lifestyle dictated by the society's perception of "normal" ... This lifestyle is not only about escaping, it's about creating exciting things in new ways ... it gives you an invaluable opportunity to see the world and experience more than living the 9-to-5 life.
William Gibson's famous quote about the future - the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed - is about edge communities. Some of these communities are living in the future in the sense they have behaviors and/or use technologies that will become mainstream at some point in the future.
But most edge communities don't fit this description. They're simply fringe groups that will always be fringe.
Our job is to find the communities living in the future.
One of the best things about this work is we constantly get to interact with people who "refuse to settle for a lifestyle dictated by society's perception of "normal"."
These folks are both fun and interesting.