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The Small Business of the Future: Are You Ready?

futureSmallBusiness

What will the small business of the future look like? Here is my best guess timeline on future events that will permanently change how small businesses are run.

2022 – GLASS WEARABLES

Google’s Glass experiment had mixed results at best. It was certainly a bumpy start to a product that’s going to revolutionize the world, and it added the word “glasshole” to our lexicon. Eye-based wearables have long been exalted in sci-fi and for good reason: the visual interface can be synced to photo recognition software, linking it to search engines and social media. Imagine entering a networking event and knowing right away, via visual bubbles that appears over every attendees’ head, how much money they approximately earn and what company they work for. Society will become more stratified but also more efficient. Cross-cutting cleavages will be formed instantaneously as soon as you see someone commercially relevant to you. This will in turn increase productivity on an exponential scale and give us critical information about people, letting us skip the small talk.

2025- THE RISE OF THE 3D PRINTER

3D printing has made quite a buzz over the last few years. Guns, organs, food, skateboards, you name it. Almost anything can be 3D printed. First generation 3D printers are bulky and costly, much like the computers of the 1960s. However, within 20 years, consumer units will be readily available for a reasonable price. What does this mean for small business? Anything that can easily be made with a CAD model will be. Say good-bye to three-fourths of the aisles at Office Max. You need a new stapler? Just mosey on over to the company 3D printer and print one out. And the best thing is…you’ll never run out of coffee filters or have to wash the dirty communal coffee mug again!

2040- INTEGRATION OF BRAIN COMPUTER INTERFACES

A BCI is a computer that syncs directly to your brain, following cues from your mind. Right now they look like your crazy uncle’s tin foil hats and allow manipulation of machines in the most basic way. But eventually they will be barely noticeable transponders on one of your lobes, allowing control of anything you think of, from the devices in your home, to your phone, to your work station. Forget sitting down to type an email, your thoughts can easily type out the words you want to say, using a text-based classifier. Efficiency at its finest.

2045- CRYPTOCURRENCY FULLY TAKES OVER

Cryptocurrency is poised to replace traditional currency. There are even ATMs that have bitcoins now. CheapAir, Mint, Overstock.com and others accept bitcoin and even the IRS has recognized it. If you stack cryptocurrency up against regular money, it’s not even close. Cryptocurrency is infinitely divisible, making it prime for complex transactions. Robberies and employee theft for cash businesses could be entirely prevented. Trust is endemic because each coin is unique, eliminating the need for a middle man (such as a credit card company). The list of small business benefits goes on and on.

2055- UTTER AUTOMATION

Increased automation promises only one thing – most jobs, as we know it, will be dead. For as long as there has been work, jobs have been created and destroyed. John Henry lost his job to a steam powered hammer and the Luddites theirs to automated looms. And when is the last time you used the services of a typist or a travel agent? Next on the chopping block are cab drivers (disrupted by Uber,) hotels (disrupted by AIrbnb) and down the line, pharmacists, lawyers (with the exception of trial lawyers) and any job that can be better performed by machine than man. In the short-term, it’s going to be painful. But in the long run, your great-grandkids will enjoy a world more liberated than ever before. By and large no one likes their jobs anyway, and the jobs most vulnerable to automation tend to be the ones the human mind hates doing the most. In the future, people will be able to focus more on the enjoyable aspects of work like creativity, social interaction and making money! So get ready to start saying “domo arigato” to robotic secretaries, pharmacists, attorneys, tax agents and others.

What do you think of my predictions? Let me know in the comment section below.

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Kabbage Team

Kabbage is here not only to provide access to the small business funding you need, but to also help you grow your business through free marketing tips, webinars, tools and more. Is there something you'd like us to cover or want to get your small business featured on our blog? Send us a note at content@kabbage.com.