Small Business Trends for the 21st CenturyRunning a small business requires a focus on the daily operations. However, in order to succeed you need to know what’s ahead to better plan and avert danger. The 21st century presents plenty of changes that will impact your small business in the future. Here are 8 small business trends for the 21st century:

The Small Business Revolution: The face of entrepreneurship is changing from the white middle-aged college educated male to a new class consisting of immigrants, women, baby boomers, and the younger digital generation.

These groups are better prepared for success. The boomers for instance have a vast repertoire of skills and experiences while they possess a risk-taking attitude with very few financial commitments.

An Empire of One: Forget the hiring headaches, managing problems, and added paperwork of running a business with employees. According to the Census Bureau, small business without payroll make up more than 70 percent of America’s 27 million companies, with annual sales of $887 billion.

An empire of one can operate in a low-cost location such as the home office and be more nimble than larger companies. One-person businesses can take advantage of outsourcing many functions while focusing on core strengths.

The Perfect Talent Storm: A fast aging population, a rapid declining pool of younger workers combined with global competition creates the perfect storm for a serious labor shortage. Unlike past labor shortages, this is a global phenomenon impacting workers in many areas and businesses of all types. It will continue for much of the future regardless of economic cycles.

The Innovation Age: The most important asset that will be fully realized in the future is the 3-pound creative universe in our heads. Our true competitive advantage is our ability to create and execute new business ideas. Although we have mastered the fundamentals of business such as sales or marketing, we have yet to grasp the concept of innovation. Smarter companies will leap ahead with the understanding that innovation is a process dependent system as opposed to a flash of genius.

The Customer Voice: Marketing has primarily been a one-way communication to the customer. The rise of Web 2.0 with blogs, Twitter, wikis, and community websites has created a powerful mechanism for customers to shout back.

The Heath Care Crisis: The only hurdle to speed up the small business revolution is the health care crisis. The current malaise of the heath care system in countries around the world will see no signs of dissipating. With more expensive medical advances and aging populations living longer, the price of quality health care will continue to be a burden on small business.

Knowledge Expiration: Like a carton of milk, the usefulness of knowledge expires over time. In any field, new discoveries over throw theories to create new ways of thinking. In the world of business, the assumptions and facts of today are tomorrow’s old way of thinking. As our world accelerates in knowledge creation, information will continue to change.

Nimble small businesses have the opportunity to learn new ideas and immediately apply them to their companies. Successful companies will learn how to unlearn and constantly challenge procedures, skill sets, and ways of doing business.

The Angry Planet: The global warming crisis is creating havoc in all parts of the world; interrupting supply chains, closing operations, devastating lives and businesses. Insurance firm Swiss Re predicts weather disasters will reach $150 billion per year in economic cost in a decade, more than double of today’s costs.

Without the resources of large corporations and limited government aid, small business will be the most vulnerable to the fickle demands of Mother Nature.

These eight trends are already set in motion. So, take the steps today to set your business goals and direction around foreseeable events emerging.

Thank you!