What ‘The Future’ (of 2018) Looks Like for Small Business

Jan 5, 2018 | Stephen Jackson

I’m a moderate fan of futurist/professional smartypants Ray Kurzweil. I say moderate because I’m not a devout follower or anything, but he’s made some pretty fascinating (and at times already accurate) predictions in the world of tech and I just find him to be an intriguing character all around.

One of his most notable theories is something called the Law of Accelerating Returns, in which he states that “fundamental measures of information technology follow predictable and exponential trajectories, belying the conventional wisdom that you can’t predict the future.”

Sorry if your eyes glazed over a bit there. Essentially, he means that technology develops at an exponential rate and that as new stuff gets figured out, even more new stuff becomes developed at an ever-increasing rate. Just think, it was only 25 years ago when the only people who had cell phones were stockbrokers and drug dealers. Now we’re on the brink of an Augmented Reality (AR) revolution.

This notion of the deafening and ever-increasing pace of progress should be top of mind in 2018, as things are going to start getting pretty crazy in the world of small business. What follows are some trends to look out for.

Speaking of AR …

Studies have shown that AR’s market value will soar 80 percent to $164 Billion by 2024, and the implications of the widespread use of this immersive hybrid of VR and just looking at your phone will be increasingly seen in 2018. For example, Shopify (in some cases) already allows online shoppers to virtually grab an item like a flower pot and “place” it on an empty shelf in their home, [just by using a smartphone[].

While AR might not be a perfect fit for your business, it’s nonetheless a snapshot of the ways in which consumers will be expecting to interact with your product. It’s also predicted that AR will change the food industry in a number of ways, including offering the ability to hold a smartphone to to something like a box of crackers and immediately see its nutritional information.

Freelancing Population Continues to Grow, Need Stuff

Just two years from now, in 2020, the freelance economy is predicted to rise to 43 percent of the American workforce — which is insane. This has too many implications to tackle at this moment, but you can begin to imagine what they are. From the need for affordable healthcare in light of the uncertain future of Obamacare to the increasing demand for apps that make freelancer’s lives easier, there is much on the horizon for freelancers in the U.S. and beyond. Also, businesses will likely continue to use a blended workforce to save cash, which is something to think about from both an employer and employee perspective.

It’s also going to be increasing necessary to have a good banking solution if you’re working freelance, and Seed has been built from the ground up with freelancers in mind. If you’re still banking with the big guys and are unhappy, it might be worth a look-see.

Remote Working Affects Where (and How) People Live

The amount of people working from home in the U.S. has increased 115 percent in the last decade, and while some companies might start pulling back a little in order to provide a more human interaction-forward workplace, this number is likely to continue to climb.

And as it does, it will have an increasing effect on where people decide to live. Basically, the ability to work full-time from home means that traditional high-priced population centers like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are no longer the necessary places for people pursue high-paying careers. In the years ahead, many will likely begin to settle down in more affordable places and work remotely from more affordable outposts.

This really is a fascinating possibility, as the rise of working remotely might have an effect on the real estate market. One can imagine a scenario in which a relatively affordable place to live becomes more expensive as a result, and vice-versa.

But back to the idea of “human interaction-forward” workplace. It’s mind-blowing that we live in a time where you can work full-time at a company full of people and go for weeks without physically meeting any of your co-workers. Whether or not you’re a freelancer working remotely, or an FTE working 100% from home, perhaps 2018 should be the year to get out there and foster some real-life, in-the-flesh relationships.