Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Key Trends at Sole Proprietorships Over the Past 30 Years

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

091914 sole proprietors

While the number of sole proprietorships has exploded over the past three decades, their revenues and income have remained largely constant in inflation-adjusted terms. The end result has been a decline in real sales and income at the average sole proprietorship, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) statistics reveal.

Between 1980 and 2007, Americans dramatically increased the rate at which they run sole proprietorships, moving from 39.2 for every thousand people in 1980 to 76.7 in 2007. While the per capita number of Schedule C filers declined slightly during the Great Recession and then increased slightly during the recovery that followed, the overall pattern remains one of an upward trend in the per capita number of sole proprietorships over the past 31 years.

The large increase in number of proprietorships was not met with a comparable rise in their revenues, which increased only 12.7 percent in inflation-adjusted terms over the three-plus decade period. The inevitable result was a dramatic decline in sales at the average proprietorship, which dropped from $122,000 to $52,400 when measured in inflation-adjusted terms, as the figure below shows.

Real income at the average sole proprietorship follows a similar long-term downward trend. After rising from 1982 to 1988, it declined from $16,990 per year in 1988 to a low of $11,020 in 2009 and then subsequently recovered to $11,700 in 2011. (All income figures are measured in 2010 dollars.)

The rise in sole proprietorships resulted primarily from an increase in the number of businesses in the economy, rather than a shift by owners towards the proprietorship legal form. Between 1980 and 2011, the per capita number of American businesses increased from 57.1 businesses per thousand people to 104.5 businesses per thousand, a rise of 82.7 percent.

IRS statistics show that sole proprietorships have maintained a roughly constant share of American businesses for the past decade. They did increase from 68.6 percent of U.S. businesses in 1980 to 74.5 percent in 1993, but then declined to 71.6 percent by 2000. (Sole proprietorships comprised 72.0 percent of American businesses in 2011.)

Sole proprietorships’ share of business revenues and income follow different patterns. Sole proprietors’ share of business receipts were largely constant between 1980 and 1992. But from 1992 to 2011, they declined from 5.7 percent to 3.6 percent of total business revenues.

Sole proprietorships’ share of business income rose in the early 1980s and then was (noisily) constant until 1991. Since then it has fluctuated, but trended downward, from 27.0 percent in 1991 to 12.9 percent in 2011.

Source: Created from data from the IRS Statistics of Income

Source: Created from data from the IRS Statistics of Income

Entrepreneur Photo via Shutterstock

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Google Product Listing Ads Will Now Appear in Search

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Google SearchEDIT
Good news for advertisers using Shopping Campaigns: Google is now allowing you to opt into displaying your Product Listing Ads (PLAs) on retail and e-commerce search partner sites.

Displaying your shopping campaign ads across Google’s search partners network helps you reach motivated consumers outside of the and Google Shopping environments.

Where Will Your PLAs Appear?

Google said the network includes “a small set of retail and commerce publishers.” The example they used in their announcement was Walmart; in this case, an advertiser selling tailgate grills could have their ads trigger on the Walmart site when someone searches for a tailgating grill.

It begs the obvious question: doesn’t this potentially take sales away from the partner sites?

Like any and everything Google does, this functionality has probably been tested extensively and will be monitored and evaluated as it rolls out across more partner sites. However, the participating partner sites are part of the AdSense for Shopping program, whereby publishers earn revenue for hosting AdSense Shopping ads. They’ll have some analysis to do of their own, to determine whether the additional revenue stream is more lucrative than any potentially lost sales.

What Do Google PLAs Look Like on Partner Sites?

They appear much the same as on Google Search, but publishing sites will have some degree of control over where the ads are placed on the page.

In this example from Google, the ads appear in a left-hand sidebar and are labeled “Sponsored Products.”
Google Product Listing
The obvious drawback for advertisers is that the ads are appearing on sites likely to sell similar products – this is how they’re triggered. So while consumers are more likely in a frame of mind to make a purchase, the competition is right there on the page, as well.

There may also be some confusion if consumers don’t understand that clicking an ad actually takes them off the site and to a new retailer. A person looking to save money on shipping, or order a number of items from one retailer, might find this a bit annoying.

How Do You Opt In to Show Your PLAs on Partner Sites?

Those creating new Shopping campaigns will find that the default “campaign type” setting already includes the Google Search Network consisting of Google Search, Google search partner websites, and Google Shopping.

If you’re creating a new Shopping campaign, you actually need to opt out if you don’t want your ads to trigger across partner e-commerce and retail sites. You can deselect the “Include search partners” checkbox if you want out.

It’s worth noting that right now, Google is auto-upgrading all Product Listing Ads campaigns to Shopping campaigns. If you’ve been using PLAs and haven’t upgraded yet, as of September 2 they will have some limitations:

  • You can no longer create new targets.
  • You cannot change bids and destination URLs on existing product targets.
  • You cannot create or edit text for PLAs.

During the auto-upgrade process, Google warns, “Though we’ll attempt to replicate your regular Product Listing Ads campaigns’ settings, bids, and budget, the setup for these new Shopping campaigns might differ.”

If you haven’t done so yet, go check on your PLA campaigns.

Complete the upgrade to Shopping campaigns so you can review your ads and make sure they’re appearing the way you expect. Then decide whether you want your ads to appear across Google’s partner sites network and make sure the “Include search partners” option is set to your liking.

Republished by permission. Original here.

Google Search image via Shutterastock

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Viber Adds Video Calling for Android and Apple Devices

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

viber video calls on mobile

Viber, the VOIP service purchased earlier this year by the Japanese eCommerce company Rakuten, now has the ability to make Viber video calls on mobile.

Previously, Viber users could only make video calls using the app’s desktop platform. Mobile Viber users – both iOS and Android – were limited to making voice calls and sending text messages.

Now, Viber users on Android or iPhone devices will be able to make free video calls to any other Viber users who have the app installed on their device, reports the support section of the Viber website.

According to a report from The Next Web, the addition of Viber video calls on mobile devices was two years in the making. Video calls will be possible on mobile devices even if connection strength isn’t the best.

Viber says to make a video call to a contact, it must first start as an audio call and users can pick a video option once the call is connected. Inside a video call, users can send text messages or even transfer the call to a desktop device from their mobile phone.

For iOS users:

  • You must have an iPhone 4S or later.
  • iOS 7 or later.
  • Viber 5.0 or later.

For Android users, the minimum requirements for Viber video calls on mobile are:

  • Viber 5.0.
  • Android 4.0.
  • A front-facing camera with at least 1.3 megapixels and internal memory of 1.5GB of RAM or more.

The addition of Viber video calls on mobile could make it an even more viable alternative to Skype (owned by Microsoft), Google Hangouts, and Apple’s FaceTime. This is especially true for small businesses that need to utilize video conferencing and make a lot of international calls.

Currently, Viber touts that it has 400 million users worldwide, so there are plenty of other people to talk to including potentially some business contacts.

Viber users don’t need a separate account login name. The app uses your mobile phone number as a login. After the app is downloaded to your device, it scans your contacts to find other Viber users. Viber also allows group calls with up to 100 users on board, according to the company’s site.

If a Viber user must call someone who doesn’t use the app — for instance on a landline phone — the built-in ViberOut feature offers call rates as low as 1.3 cents-per-minute, including for international calls.

Rakuten’s long-term stated goal for Viber when acquiring the platform back in April, was to turn it into part of an eCommerce platform. So further business applications may certainly still be ahead.

Image: Viber

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BlackBerry Plans Personal, Business Accounts On One Device

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

separate blackberry accounts

Separating work from pleasure is difficult enough, but when it comes to your employees using company smartphones for personal use, it can be costly.

Nowadays, this concern goes beyond using the phone for personal calls, of course. It goes beyond using a smartphone, too. An employee could be using any smart device, like a tablet, and consuming most of your monthly data allowances for personal use.

Soon however, it may be easier to separate personal voice, data and messaging charges on personal devices from business ones.

BlackBerry recently acquired SIM developer Movirtu. The company provides technology that lets users have multiple numbers active on a single device. This means the possibility of separate BlackBerry accounts for business and personal. For small businesses, this could help conserve valuable data allocations and also save on the time that comes with trying to monitor employees’ personal use of company-owned devices.

Conversely, with the rise of the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) movement in which many employees would rather use their own technology, this makes it much easier to separate personal from company use.

Movirtu CEO Carsten Brinkschulte says that his company’s goal is to create virtual identities on smart devices. This allows the same device to operate under two different accounts. In a post on the Inside BlackBerry Business Blog, Brinkschulte explains:

“Enterprise customers will now be able to provision a single device for corporate and personal use; allow discrete enterprise policies to be applied to only the work side of the device, while allowing full usability of the personal portion of the device; split bills for voice, data and messaging; and provide the ability to switch between profiles easily.”

BlackBerry notes that a recent ruling in California requires companies to reimburse employees for data and call charges that an employee incurs while using their own smart devices for work use. The solution being considered by BlackBerry and Movirtu would make this much easier on a practical level.

Brinkschulte says his company already has worked with all the major mobile carriers in the past and those industry connections could result in a rather rapid integration of Movirtu’s technology into BlackBerry devices in the future.

BlackBerry says it plans to introduce Virtual SIM identification technology into devices soon. These devices will be supported by all major mobile carriers, too.

Computer Photo via Shutterstock

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Fashion Startup Provides eCommerce Platform for Sustainable Designers

Sunday, September 21st, 2014


Environmentally conscious consumers have plenty of options when it comes to things like food and household products. But what about clothing?

There are options out there for sustainable, well-made garments. But you can’t usually find them at the mall or major retail locations. So such brands haven’t always been easy for consumers to buy.

Enter Zady, a company that aims to connect consumers with sustainable, high quality fashion. Zady works with fashion and d?cor brands around the world to showcase products that are both ethically made and constructed with quality materials.

The company launched just over a year ago. Friends Maxine B?dat and Soraya Darabi started the platform as an alternative to today’s “fast fashion,” where consumers tend to buy a lot of cheap clothes instead of a few timeless pieces.

To accomplish its mission, the company vets designers to identify those who fit with the company’s environmental ideals. Zady currently has about 60 such designers on its site. On each product page, potential customers find details about where the product is made and what raw materials are used. There are even bios of the designers and profiles of the businesses that create each product.

In addition, Zady partners with nonprofit The Bootstrap Project to promote artisan entrepreneurs in the developing world. A portion of each purchase made on the platform goes to fund these micro-businesses.

But the next step for Zady is its own line. The company plans to start this holiday season and will be involved with every stage of the sourcing for its products. Since Zady cares so much about quality materials and construction, it makes sense that its team would want to be involved in the whole process. B?dat told CNN:

“The natural step is to get our hands dirty and figure out, ‘What does it mean to make the most sustainable brand?’”

The fashion industry today focuses so much on cheap, trendy items. Because of that, there are methods of garment making and construction that are being lost and forgotten.

Zady offers the opposite — a way to easily find the brands that use high quality materials, solid construction and sustainable methods. For consumers that care about those aspects of fashion, this platform could make shopping infinitely easier.

Tablet Photo via Shutterstock

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Blamestorming: How to Prevent Arguments, Create Team Harmony

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

blamestormingI’ve seen a ton of books on how to work on teams, but let’s face it. Not every group is perfect, and interpersonal dynamics will lead to conflict at some point. The rise of entrepreneurial activity online also means conflict can occur. I know I’ve seen my fair share over the past 5 years, and I know many of you have seen even more.

To set better expectations from your groups, read the tips from the new book Blamestorming: Why Conversations Go Wrong and How To Fix Them by Rob Kendall, (@robkendall) I learned about it while browsing NetGalley and picked up a copy. The perspective offered by Kendall outlines a solid framework to make working together work well.

Scale Projects, Not Arguments

Blamestorming is a type of discussion in which a group assigns responsibility for a failure or mistake. It can creep up as a project is struggling to complete milestones or is approaching a point of failure. Kendall brings a wealth of experience. Based in the United Kingdom, Kendall has been a highly respected management consultant and authority in the field of communication over the past 20 years. He has coached teams at many international companies including American Express and Zurich Banking.

Kendall’s background makes me appreciate the book’s tone even more. While having worked with larger firms, Kendall has tailored his suggestions for smaller firms as well. The book centers on warning signs when a blamestorm is coming, and how to best avoid needless conflict. There are 20 self-contained chapters, 19 of which get into one of four aspects that can occur, according to Kendall:

  • The Tangle — misunderstood intentions, which lead to uncertainty and poor expectations.
  • The Big Arguments – when conversation spiral out of control.
  • The Bad Place – where you are in the middle of a horrible conversation.
  • The Lock Down – when feelings are withheld, limiting progress towards meaningful solutions.

Much of the book does emphasize the causes for “The Big Arguments” but also helps to reveal how and why these aspects happen.

Putting Prevention Into Action

I liked how the chapters are laid out. There are actionable “What To Do“ suggestions at the end of each chapter, with a summary lesson statement that is perfect for busy minds to remember. This statement from chapter one rung true for me:

“Don’t just be in conversations; observe them.”

I’ve observed conversations when possible, but some times one needs a means to know how to handle what they have observed. That’s where the “What To Do” comes in. You need a few straightforward words that elaborate to stir deeper thoughts or appreciation. The What To Do chapter certainly contains straightforward stirring commentary. Here’s an example:

“Becoming an expert starts with being curious about the dynamics of conversation. Take time to consciously step back from the content of conversations you’re having and observe what moves them forward or brings them to a grinding halt.”

A few of the chapters have ideas that you may have heard before. But despite the standalone design of each chapter’s topics, all the chapters combine to paint an effective and actionable picture of how to consider what you observe. Check out this passage from chapter 13 about language and what it can reveal:

“Our language provides an insight into our past. For example, the average work meeting contains terminology that reflects our bloody heritage. We talk about being held to ransom or going in for the kill when closing a deal…Such expressions are like a plane’s vapor trails, leaving evidence of what’s gone before….Language also provides intelligence about the way someone processes information. If a person says I need to think about this, it probably indicates that they’re quite reflective in nature.”

Who Would Benefit Most From This Book

Business owners who are expanding their operations from being a solopreneur to a small team will definitely want to give this book a read. Those who have development teams, particularly software and web development, will consider this a useful change up from books that focus on project management techniques.

And to be fair, this book can extend into personal conflicts – after all, arguments are not just within a manager’s office.

Chapter eight examines the addicted advice giver, admonishing those who think they can fix every problem. A parent learning to let children solve their own problems could appreciate Kendall’s view. Chapter 7 examines fears, featuring an interesting juxtaposition: A professional’s realization against an interview comment Judy Dench made about her success – the idea of living with a fear, but working to accomplish a task. These type of comparisons reminded me of the book Clutch, and how its author Paul Sullivan examined one aspect of life, sports, against professional performance.

Expecting perfect relationships in every business relationship is to also expect unicorns to bring cash infusions to every small business. Reading Blamestorming will not create an environment for perfect relationships – and cash-laden unicorns, for that matter. But it will usher an environment where everyone can communicate effectively and respectfully.

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Latest Small Biz Events List For You to Check Out

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Welcome to our latest curated list of events, contests and awards for small businesses, solo entrepreneurs and growing companies outlined below.

Remember, to see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar.

Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Small Business Summit 2014Small Business Summit 2014
October 22, 2014, New York, NY

The 9th Annual Small Business Summit Takes place in New York City at the CUNY Graduate Center.

The Summit is an oasis where small business owners and entrepreneurs have a unique experience where they can learn and network.

The Small Business Summit is the only Summit of its kind – BY small businesses and FOR small businesses. Learn more and register.

Featured Events, Contests and Awards

COSE Small Business Convention 2014COSE Small Business Convention 2014
October 22, 2014, Sandusky, OH

The 9th annual Small Business Convention is the premier event for small businesses in the Mid-West. Networking, education and continuing education credits. Produced by Council of Smaller Enterprises.
Hashtag: #smallbizcon

More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology.

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From Our Community: Mompreneur Tips, Mobile Ad Trends

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

091914 mompreneur

Now that we’ve reached mid-September, kids across the country are back to school. And that leaves a lot of stay-at-home parents facing an empty house for much of the day. For some of those parents, it could be time to think about starting their own businesses.

This week, our Community provides some tips specific to prospective stay-at-home business owners. And we learn some lessons that all small business owners should heed as they continue to market their products and brands. Check out this and other highlights from our Small Business Trends community roundup.

Is Entrepreneurship Right for the Stay-at-Home Parent?


So with the kids back at school, you’re wondering what you could do with some of that extra free time. For stay-at-home parent with some time to spare, becoming a mompreneur or dadpreneur is certainly an option.  Of course, starting a business takes more than just creating products  or services and selling them. Nellie Akalp’s post is a good go-to list for prospective entrepreneurial parents. It highlights the hidden side of running a business. And it poses questions to help stay-at-home parents decide whether running a business is right for them.

What Will Apple’s New Phablet Mean to Marketers?

(Marketing Land)

The iPhone 6 Plus is set to hit the market in a few weeks. And devoted users of Apple’s line of smartphones must be excited. For the first time in the device’s history, the screen is getting bigger. But here’s something small business owners and marketers may not have considered. The 5.5-inch display on the new device will create challenges for advertisers who have targeted users of iPhones in the past. Andrew Waber writes that the new screen size will force marketers to create new ads to display correctly on the larger devices.

Sick Leave Mandate Signed Into Law

(Liberty Voice)

The State of California recently enacted a law that requires employers of nearly every kind to grant most employees paid sick leave. There don’t appear to be exemptions for small businesses in the California law, either. As laws like this become the trend, it’s wise to keep an eye on whether your state’s legislature is debating a similar bill. Dyanne Weiss writes that employees who work 30 or more hours per week must be given a total of 24 hours of paid sick time during the year under the new law. That’s the equivalent of 3 full days, of course. Employees are eligible for the benefit after 90 days of employment.

Chipping Away At Your Paperwork Pile

(North Carolina Bookkeeping)

At the end of a fiscal quarter, a lot of small business owners are faced with the daunting task of catching up on financial paperwork. Receipts, invoices, and other papers need to be recorded and processed. Tiffany Goodin provides some helpful tips and a checklist to help manage the results of your procrastination.

Dos And Don’ts of Pinterest Marketing

(Lumiary Academy)

Facebook and Twitter command a lot of attention from small businesses marketers and with good reason. But Pinterest has been steadily garnering more users too. Those users are quite engaged with the site too, spending about 14 minutes there per day on average. As Carmine Di Maro points out, the visual-heavy social media site is a great way to showcase your business products. It’s a great way to share your expertise and inspirations, too.  DiMaro’s recent post offers tips for marketing your business on Pinterest successfully. And it looks at some pitfalls to avoid, too.

Don’t Underestimate The Value of The Written Word

(Egg Metrics)

Florin Birgu of Egg Metrics has collected some really weird ads in this great roundup. We’re left to ponder whether some of these are errors or deliberate and clever attempts to grab a reader’s attention. Whichever they are, the roundup is a good reminder of the power of properly worded text ads. While your business may not be selling “Birthday Moms” or “Human Remains”, a clever, simple and attention-grabbing text ad could result in positive returns.

Get Help Expanding Your Business


At some point, business startups must consider bringing on either more employees or contractors to handle growth. This is especially true for “solopreneurs” who are wearing multiple hats while keeping their businesses operating. Small Business Trends Founder and CEO Anita Campbell provides this checklist for sole-proprietors working alone. It’s a helpful way to decide when it’s time to ask for more help in your business.

Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome in Marketing

(Marketing Nate)

If you always seem to be chasing what’s new in your marketing strategy, you may be suffering from Shiny Object Syndrome. Instead of chasing the most exciting new marketing approach on the Internet, try a simple message across multiple channels. You may find that a simple brand message spread across multiple channels will have a better effect and reach a larger audience. And it will prevent you from wasting time and energy on always recalibrating your campaigns to match the latest trends.

Understand the Limits of Facebook Marketing


If your business is marketing through Facebook, chances are you’ve found targeting individual fans who have “liked” your page challenging. That’s because often the list that Facebook provides you of these people is incomplete. Monica Ramos dispels rumors as to why Facebook doesn’t show Page owners all their “likes.” The real reason some of these people may not be available is Facebook’s ever changing privacy policy.

Why Marketing Data is Only Half the Equation


Companies offering small businesses their online advertising services tout advanced knowledge databases. And these companies use advanced data collection to help advertisers target specific audiences. But despite the gobs of information gleaned from these tools, successful marketing also relies on intuition and listening to your customers. Tim Peter writes that feedback from customers and employees can provide just as much insight for your next marketing campaign as the latest analytics.

Help us make the Small Business Trends Community Roundup better every week. Email us at with your suggestions or share your content in the BizSugar community. It’s the place we go to find the freshest and most authentic small business voices today.

Mompreneur photo via Shutterstock

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Move Over Grumpy Cat – Spider Dog Mutant Goes Viral

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

spider dog

For years, cats have ruled the land of online memes. But lately it seems like online viral video has been going to the dogs…literally. Especially, if the dog in question happens to be wearing a giant spider costume. We’ll explain.

When unsuspecting passersby first laid eyes on this latest viral sensation, they thought they were encountering a large, terrifying spider. But it was really just a dog named Chica, dressed in a somewhat ridiculous spider costume. Here’s the full YouTube video:

The unsuspecting victims of the video prank flee from the small dog in terror. Some react with loud screams. One even tried to crawl his way through a fake spider web to escape.

Given the dark and deserted setting where the video was shot, along with the other props used in the video, you can’t really blame them for having such reactions. At a glance in the dark, the dog really does look like a gigantic arachnid.

spider dog

But now, a dog dressed as a spider probably won’t be able to get that same reaction from many people since the video has over 86 million views on YouTube. Chica has certainly made a name, and that name is Spider Dog.

Actor, director and famed YouTube prankster SA Wardega is responsible for creating the now viral video debut of Spider Dog. The Polish entertainer has more than 2 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, where he showcases a variety of different pranks. And he has followings on other social sites as well.

But it wasn’t his existing fanbase alone that made Spider Dog take off. The mix of a funny prank and a cute face to attached to it (once you’re able to look past the scary spider costume) just screams viral success.

spider dog

Now, Chica has plenty of fans too. The dog’s Facebook page has gained more than 100,000 likes in just a couple of weeks. And people are even lining up to buy spider costumes for their own dogs.

So while the Internet was once populated mostly with cute, if sometimes a little grumpy felines, those days may be over. Now it’s time for a dog in a spider costume to be leader of the viral video pack.

Images: ChicatheDogSpider, Video Stills

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The Generation Gap is So Over! Read “The Gen Z Effect” to Find Out Why

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

the gen z effectDo you believe in a generation gap?  This used to be a BIG topic of conversation many years ago as the baby boomers pushed into young adulthood.  If you’re into classic rock, you may know The Who song aptly titled “My Generation:”

“People try to put us d-down (talkin’ ’bout my generation)…
Just because we get around (talkin’ ’bout my generation)…
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (talkin’ ’bout my generation)…
I hope I die before I get old (talkin’ ’bout my generation).”

As younger people enter the workforce, it’s not uncommon to have two generations working side by side.  But as people live longer and stay vital in the workforce, by the year 2020 it won’t be unusual to see as many as five generations working together.

If you think about the kind of animosity the “generation gap thinking” from the past brings up, you can already see that this is not sustainable.  But as the old Bob Dylan song says (might as well stay with those Baby Boomers), “Times, They Are a Changin’.”

Technology has created a wonderful mashup of late that is going to shift our thinking about how we interact inter-generationally.  If you take a moment to look around and beyond the extremes at the fringes, you’ll see:

  • Grandmothers are on iPads Skyping children who have not yet learned to walk and talk.
  • A child in Kenya whose family makes less than $5 per day is attending online classes at MIT.
  • An unemployed Baby Boomer is funding her start up on Kickstarter.
  • A middle schooler is building a revolutionary medical device on a 3D printer.

When you consider that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is 55 and older, it’s not hard to see that technology, its ubiquity inside of everything we touch and its ability to connect us and drive our daily lives has created a new generation – Generation Z.

Can The Gen Z Effect Break Through Generation Gap Thinking?

There is a new book about to be released called The Gen Z Effect: The Six Forces Shaping the Future of Business by Dan Keldsen (@dankeldsen) and Thomas Koulopoulos (@tkspeaks). This book has a wide and soaring goal – to build a “post generational world one person at a time”.

What is the Gen Z Effect?

On their website, they say it very simply. It’s when the simplicity and affordability of technology unites generations – rather than dividing them.

As a marketer who is used to segmenting, dicing, slicing and separating to get to what differentiates one group over another, I’m thrilled at the research and examples the authors have pulled together and shared inside this ground-breaking book that looks at six forces behind what they are calling the “Gen Z Effect:”

  • Breaking Generations: Facing the imminent and immensely disruptive population redistribution that equalizes the number of humans globally in each of the thirteen five-year age groups from birth to sixty four. (i.e. ages 0–4, 5–9, 10–14…60–64.)
  • Hyperconnecting: Moving toward exponentially hyper connectivity among people, computers, machines, and objects.
  • Slingshotting: Exploiting disruptive advances in user experience and affordability that turn what was the cutting edge of technology into the norm, allowing large segments of the population to catch up, seemingly overnight, with technology pioneers.
  • Shifting from Affluence to Influence: Leveraging the ever increasing ability to influence world events through communities that cut across age and other demographic boundaries, without the benefit of access to large pools of capital.
  • Adopting the World As My Classroom: Pushing toward global availability and affordability of education through all levels of schooling and for any age.
  • Lifehacking: Breaking through barriers, taking shortcuts, and otherwise outsmarting the system so that we can focus on outcomes rather than processes, making meaning and purpose the center of our personal and professional experience.

Each of these six forces is a chapter in the book. Inside each chapter, the authors go in-depth with case studies, examples and the research they’ve collected that so clearly shows what’s waiting for us.

While each chapter is profound in its own way, I’m going to focus on the foundational chapter of The Gen z Effect – Breaking Generations.

The Pyramid is Now a Skyscraper – Why This is a Big Deal

“The year 2080 will be remarkable. Not for its technologies, which will no doubt be light-years ahead of where we are today, but because it will mark the first time in recorded history that every five-year age band, from newborns to sixty-five-year-olds, will account for almost exactly the same percentage of the world’s population: 6 percent.”

This is significant because at no other time in our history has the population distribution looked this. It’s always looked like a pyramid.  And it’s this pyramid model that’s driven much of our thinking and our policies, practices and procedures.

The authors are clear that the pyramid is now looking more like a skyscraper, and not just in terms of demographics and generations. It’s looking that way around wealth and influence. In another chapter “Shifting from Affluence to Influence” they show the shift from wealth driving influence to earning influence.

What this book so profoundly shows is that technology has broken down the barriers in age and even in wealth.  By connecting large masses of people worldwide, the 99% can exert huge influence – yes, even over wealth.

Data increasingly shows that in all areas of life, generations are mixing as they’ve never mixed before. The authors give the example of graduate school (in the past) with students typically being in their 20’s and now with a full range of ages taking graduate courses:

“In fact, we challenge the very nature of “retirement” and feel strongly that this, too, is a term and a concept that has outlived its usefulness. Since 1950 a definitive trend line has emerged, pointing to a narrowing gap between life expectancy and work-life expectancy. Both are increasing, but work-life expectancy is increasing at a slightly faster rate that life expectancy. While that does not mean we will at some point be working after we’re dead—at least that’s not a claim we’re making in this book—it does illustrate how underlying trends are challenging some of the most basic generational beliefs, such as retirement.”

The big lesson behind this chapter is to set our preconceived notions about generations, who they are and how they are, aside.  Those days are over.  While each generation does have its own “style” or characteristics, these will become less and less important as our lives are more intertwined with technology.

About the Authors

Thomas Koulopoulos is the founder of the Delphi Group, which for 25 years has been providing thought leadership to global organizations on the intersection of business and technology. Named one of the industry’s most influential information management consultants by InformationWeek magazine, he is a recognized author on the subject, frequently appearing in national and international print and broadcast media, including BusinessWeek, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Economist, CNBC, CNN, and NPR. Tom is the author of nine previous books, including Cloud Surfing.

Dan Keldsen is a Senior Business Strategist at NFP Health. Dan co-led groundbreaking research on attitudinal differences and alignment between boomers and millennials in one of the earliest Enterprise 2.0 research projects (2007-2008). He was noted as one of the Most Influential Enterprise 2.0 Writers of 2009 by SeekOmega. He is a frequent speaker and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, InformationWeek, CMSWire and FierceContentManagement, among other publications.

The Gen Z Effect is a must read for any business owner, manager or marketer who is working in organizations with multiple generations or who is looking to influence them.

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