Intuit‘s February 2008 report on the Future of Small Business details the prediction of the upcoming 10 year changes in our economy.  They dub the changes they see as “Barbell Economics.”

Here are some details they note, which should affect how you think about your business’ growth over the next ten years:

-The next ten years will find highly niche-oriented small businesses begin to arise as a major business factor, while large businesses become larger through acquisitions and mergers.  The economy will look somewhat like a barbell with small businesses on one side and very large businesses on the other side.  There will be a few middle-sized companies somewhere in between.

-Smaller businesses will be more effective in providing highly niched needs of the individual consumer.  And as the world becomes a smaller place to do business and more global in it’s reach, smaller business can respond to these changes and challenges more rapidly than larger industries.

-Larger businesses will be able to outsource a lot of highly-niche oriented services and the creation of specialty products to the small business community, further enhancing the need for the smaller business in the next ten years.  Many small businesses could actually provide exclusive services and/or niche products to a few large clients in their highly focused area of expertise.  This is known as collaboration.

-Manufacturing will be reclaimed by the small business community due to heavy advances in technology, logistics and the innovation of new highly-niched products (I have a client that is already doing this and pulling new customers away from China and India).

-Smarter technology, which will possibly be smaller, lighter and more agile, will lower the capital commitment and investments typically required by the small business.  Sometimes, the cost of this investment is a barrier to entry into the marketplace.  Not anymore.  Intuit dubs this new technology as plug-and-play infrastructures.  Because of this, smaller businesses will be able to be highly competitive (which means you better be!)

-Business will become more and more borderless for the small business.  Intuit predicts that by 2018 almost half of the US small businesses will be involved in global trade.  I see great promises in this area for the Creative Group we serve.  Their product can be delivered anywhere.  In addition, social networks will fuel this new borderless economy, so get thee to twitter.

Heed the word of the blog!  Change is not coming… it is already here!  Begin now in internal innovation, collaboration relationship building with larger businesses, and rethinking your current business models.  If you are behind you will be left behind.

Heed the word of the blog, dang it.  freakin’ a.