The Rise of The “Global Small Business”

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Ten years from now there will be millions of “Global Small Businesses” (GSBs). There will be so many that it will surely form a new category of business.

A GSB isn’t like a big global business and it’s not like a traditional small business either. As the name suggests, these are businesses that have less than 10 staff but aren’t limited by geography. They have reach into cities all over the world and could easily be making millions in sales despite a relatively small headcount.

Most commonly they will be service providers however many will also sell high value physical products that can be sent whizzing all over the globe to customers in  far away cities. A lot of GSBs will also have valuable Intellectual Property that they license to their “local partners”.

GSBs will have incredibly well developed brands, making them look much bigger than they are. They will be built around a “micro-nich” and they rely heavily on a few Key People of Influence.

They will communicate on Skype, market themselves using social media, manage their operations in the cloud and be based wherever it makes sense from a tax and ip protection standpoint (I predict Singapore being a front runner).

The GSBs will have their top talent working from home and meeting in rented boardrooms on a weekly or monthly basis. Due to multiple time zones the edges of work and play will blur. Performance will be more important than hours clocked -  “the only truth is the results” is the new mantra for managing employees of GSBs.

GSBs will become an attractive alternative to white collar employment. Professionals like lawyers, accountants, consultants and managers will define a “micro-niche” and then leave traditional employment in favor of their own GSB startup.

Lifestyle and flexibility will be a huge advantage for a GSB. Correctly structured, the owners of GSBs will pay little tax compared to their employee counterparts. Many GSB owners will split their time living in 2-3 locations to avoid income tax altogether.

Having an GSB will create an enviable lifestyle. A GSB isn’t like having a traditional, local small business that prevents the owner from traveling and limits the money they can make to the local economy.

A GSB on the contrary, expands as you travel and is only limited by the size of the micro-niche and the creativity of the team. Many GSBs will earn millions in revenue and have only a few staff (some of whom will be based in low-labour-cost countries like the Philippines). For this reason, many GSB owners will earn 7 figures comparatively easily.

Here’s 7 flow-on effects I predict to look out for:

  1. The leisure industry will boom – with millions more people able to earn six and seven figure incomes from anywhere in the world, the leisure industries will boom. Hotels, resorts, casinos, attractions and the like will see big demands.
  2. Global mail/call forwarding services – these are integral parts of running a GSB and will grow in demand.
  3. Global couriers – Shipping goods around the world is a vital component to GSDs.
  4. Members clubs – People need a place to meet and do business without the need for a full office setup in one location.
  5. Prosumer AV equipment – GSDs rely upon the ability to communicate with customers all over the world. This means regular videos on the web, photos and audio recordings.
  6. Tax clamp-downs – Get ready for the day when more and more western governments demand that you pay taxes on income earned everywhere in the world.
  7. Weakening middle class – In the next 10 years a lot of money will move towards the people who “get it” and they will find it easier than ever to avoid tax. The middle class will thin out and they will be shouldered with more and more debt and taxes. If unemployment goes up over 20% you might want to get out of town because they will clash with government until the government is forced to name a bad guy and go to war with it.

By 2020 Global Small Businesses will be in full swing. Now you know, what do you want to do about it?

Leave your comments bellow…

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16 Comments.

  1. Daniel, you say a lot of things that I have thought about and always come across resistance about them. I saw no reason why a small internet based firm couldn’t serve customers around the world. I used to have disagreements with business coaches/mentors and lecturers as they measured business success by the amount of employees in the company rather than the amount of people the business makes a difference to and the amount of revenue generated. Surely the latter was of more importance.

    You’re right there is an entrepreneur revolution occurring and those who stick to the old dinosaur way of thinking make their business become extinct.

    With technology what it is now, there is no need for the old dinosaur approach. So many systems can be shaped up and automated. Many companies don’t realise they could be saving thousands in money and man hours if only they embraced modern technology. It seems CIO’s like other board level execs fill their head with bureaucracy and red tape that take them away from the game, that is generating profit by serving customers in the most effective and efficient manner possible.
    I highly recommend all business owners take the time to write down the actual processes from start to finish for the life cycle of a customer and look for bottlenecks that can be remedied and pruned ,which will save valuable time and money. Also look for technology that can automate processes. Marketing can be done almost on complete autopilot these days when you have a good system in place. Create systems that fulfill a purpose in an efficient and effective manner asp possible. It may take some time and money investment to make this happen in the short run, but will end up paying for it’s self over and over again. Clearly defined goals and efficient systems that deliver them will surely enhance any business.

    Thanks for the great post Daniel, I look forward to many more :)

  2. Daniel, I’m pleased to say our company fits the model you’ve just described (hopefully with the financial rewards just around the corner!)

    I just wanted to mention that we have worked closely with the UKTI (United Kingdom Trade and Investment) and I can’t rate them highly enough. They’ve helped us see this vision as a reality, not just a possibility and we are already trading in 2 new International markets after just 6 months with them.

    I realise this sounds like a huge plug for them, but it’s really just a tip for your readers – if they need any support trading Internationally, contact the UKTI (and just ignore recent reports about HRH Prince Andrew!)

    Best

  3. Great blog Daniel, We are indeed seeing great change in the types of business that are successful, I see your vision and I am excited by it.

  4. Daniel, I’ve been telling everyone I’ve met since your Jelly speech in Ironbridge about your KPI book. To your ‘call forwarding’ point. Have you heard of TimeEtc? Great little Birmingham company who manage inbound calls for businesses that don’t need the overhead. Thanks again

  5. Diane Priestley

    A visionary, prophetic piece, Daniel. I agree that the internet has given us this new freedom in how we work and extends the reach of everyone into the global marketplace.
    However I believe the middle class will emerge with economic strength because we have disposable income for travel and a mobile lifestyle, rather than being asset-rich and cash-poor like the upper classes with wealth tied up in expensive properties.
    Quality of life is now being measured in terms of the latest technology (iphone, ipad, laptop, kindle) rather than mansions and rolling estates because we, the flexible middle class can visit them for weekend get-aways whenever we like without the responsible of maintaining them! Like you say, travel and tourism are amongst the thriving new industries of the next 20 years.
    However with this new flexibility and empowerment in developed countries comes the responsibility to help disadvantaged people around the globe. The internet and travel connects us all in our humanity. And here is the great challenge of the Entrepreneur Revolution; to extend our good fortune to those in other cultures who need a leg up into the new prosperity.

  6. I hope that you are wrong about the mass tax dodging – is it too much to hope for that people who have benefitted from an education and a stable country of origin will feel an obligation to help the next generation get the benefits they themselves received

  7. We are under 10 employees with projects and customers in UK, Malaysia, Kenya, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Spain, Germany, USA.

  8. Hi Daniel!

    Great blog. As usual what you say is inspirational. My sister went through KPI and although she sais some of this things once in a while, they seem to make more sense when they come from you. I guess it’s the power of KPI.

    I think the most important characteristic of GSB is the freedom that it gives to its owner. I am not talking only about the freedom of choosing your own work. I am talking about a freedom of thought and behaviour. Freedom of being who you are; not pretending to be someone that the society wants you to be. There is so many different people with even more interests that there is no way anymore to keep them under a whole booklet of rules as it used to be. What id even better about GSB is that you are actually being paid and cherished for this freedom.

    So lets stay free and inspire more people to follow in our steps.

  9. You’re right on the button again Daniel. My company has 5 employees and we already sell as far afield as Korea and Malaysia. I entered your first KPI programme with too many GSB opportunities and the clarity provided by your team, especially Mike Harris, provided focus. Now we concentrate on freeing people from eczema in 10-14 days, even if they’ve had it for decades. That allows for both information products and physical skincare products. The ‘micro-niche’ of eczema covers 10% of the population around the developed world, and guiding that mass market requires true KPI spirit and leadership. Satisfying such a huge target will require numerous KPIs around the world which is where your Joint Venture philosophy is working very well. Many more JVs are being sought and, as you predicted, the right people are attracted by the KPI attitude.
    However the really important KPI learning for me was to stay away from my offices and factory – the teams there are perfectly able to do their jobs when I just provide guidance and manage performance. My role is to lead as the KPI speading success globally through products, speaking, via blogs, social media and JVs.
    The next step to a true GSB is your domicillary aspect as there’s little chance of me being able to sit in one place for long. So many JV partners are calling out and the tremendous UKTI support Maria mentioned makes it really easy to find new exciting partners.
    If anyone with an inherent GSB belief hasn’t entered the KPI programme, I strongly suggest it will be their best investment.

  10. I love this post. This is exactly what I want to achieve a GSB I had better get to work to claim my place on the web :D

  11. We have 6 employees and we are in around 10 countries. In uncertain uneconomic times diversification reduces risk.

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