I believe that we are going through a massive transition as a civilization. It’s not too dissimilar to what the renaissance was to the dark ages or the industrial revolution to the agricultural age.
I’ve felt for a long time that from 2010 – 2015 is a transitional “grace period” whereby the market will let you figure out how to transform your business and your life to match these new trends. After that, I believe that a lot of people will be left behind while a small percentage of savvy entrepreneurs do extremely well. From 2015 onward, you better have your house in order as the new, enhanced, digital economy really starts to take flight.
What that means is you have this year (2014) to really shift the way you make money and live your life. Get it right and the next 10 years will feel like you’ve got super powers, get it wrong and the next decade will feel like you’ve been robbed.
Here’s my top 7 things to focus on for 2014:
1. Free stuff
Every business is now expected to do a lot for free. In your industry, the business with the most free stuff will scoop the market. People want free apps, free video, free PDFs, free consultations, free advice, free samples and free bonuses. The good old days of saying “I’m £150 per hour, take it or leave it” are over … They will leave it.
2. Your business is ALSO a media business
This follows from the last point because the only way you’re going to cope with demand for free stuff is to pump out media content. You’re no longer a “widget business”, you’re also a “widget media business”. Dentists, Architects, Fitness Instructors, Management Consultants and everyone else need to master the art of constantly pumping out photos, videos, slides, podcasts, download and software.
3. Your business is an IT business too
“We’re not very techie” is the sound businesses make before they die in 2014. Maybe YOU aren’t particularly tech savvy but someone on your team better be. You need to be fast at building web sites, collecting meaningful data, powerfully using that data and generally optimising your business online.
You need to know what’s worth paying for, what’s worth doing in-house and what you can bolt together for free/almost free. It shocks me to discover how many entrepreneurs are completely unaware that they are still paying £2000+ for something that is now available for under £100. A step beyond that, it amazes me how many businesses have 7 staff when 5 would do if they had a simple piece of software (effectively they are paying £60,000 p.a. too much!)
4. Your business must engage people on a mobile device
This is the year that mobile disrupts everything. The mobile is 10x more disruptive than the PC could have dreamed to be and this will effect every industry. When was the last time you had a conversation with someone and neither of you looked at your phone? 2009?Most people are Googling, updating and surfing their way through conversations constantly. This means your business must be optimised for mobile. Your new clients are going to discover you on their mobile device first. They might hear about you in a conversation and search for you that minute; what comes up in that search determines your income.
5. Your business depends on your brand
Not your businesses brand, your brand, as in you, the person reading this. Very few businesses are able to get away with being faceless entities anymore. Like it or not, you will be Googled before every big deal. If you aren’t seen to be credible, you’ll miss your big break. You will also lose out if you litter the internet with cheesie, pointless garb or you try to make yourself into an “expert” when you actually aren’t one.
6. Time for money is over
Before the industrial age, most people were paid on results. If you brought a bag of potatoes to market, you got paid for the bag of potatoes and no one cared how long it took you to grow them. “Attendance based compensation” was an industrial revolution concept designed to standardise pay for workers on a factory line. If you’re not being paid for results or products sold, you’re going to be devalued. Track what you are really worth and get paid for it.
7. Selling information is over
Selling information products is a thing of the past. People are drowning in high quality, instantly accessible information. Most people have eBooks and audio podcasts by Richard Branson that they haven’t gotten around to reading, what makes you think they want to buy your stuff for £39? I’m a huge fan of releasing books, articles, podcasts and membership programs, but forget trying to make money from them. Your money will come from implementing the ideas you’re giving away for people who don’t have the time.
This year could be a pivotal year for you but only if you get onto the front foot. You were an early adopter on Facebook in 2007 – so what! You had a website years before your competition in 2003 – so what! You were tweeting back when Stephen Fry was the most followed celebrity – So what!
You can’t afford to rest on your laurels this year. You have to innovate, you have to advance, you have to be ready for when this whole thing really kicks off in the not too distant future.