The Great Recession has bloodied and bruised the online business community just as it has done with traditional, brick-and-mortar businesses. But when it comes to the emerging economic trends on the horizon (some of which will be highly destructive tsunamis) internet entrepreneurs are in a far better position to adapt and profit compared to their more traditional competitors.
In fact, terms such as “creative chaos” and “deer in the headlights” might be the best terms to use when describing what could happen to many traditional entrepreneurs over the next ten years. But for those internet entrepreneurs looking for investment opportunities, affiliate products and services, economic sectors ripe for startup businesses, as well as good sectors to create quality content for their websites, we recommend keeping your eyes on these six emerging trends.
I) Baby Boomer Retirement – There are nearly 80 million Baby Boomers entering into retirement age, which constitutes nearly 25% of America’s population, as well as the most wealthy and financially affluent generation in the country. What does the ageing of our parent’s generation actually mean? It will have an almost inconceivable impact on the economy, both for online as well as brick-and-mortar business.
For starters, it will mean a massive explosion in the availability of brick-and-mortar real estate as they sell their homes in order to finance their retirements. This will probably be coupled with the purchasing of homes in states that have become popular retirement destinations (Florida, Texas, and Arizona to name a few).
There will also be an explosion in Boomer-oriented retirement communities, healthcare-oriented industries, as well as funeral-oriented industries. Once retired with massive amounts of free time on their hands, there will also be explosions in Boomer-oriented social websites, dating sites, and travel sites. Any internet entrepreneur who isn’t keeping his eye on this demographic trend doesn’t realize how drastically the American economy is going to change over the next ten years.
II) Online Education – With the emergence of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) where a professor can have a classroom of potentially thousands of students from all over the world, the future of traditional, brick-and-mortar universities is a subject of hot debate among internet analysts.
It isn’t simply that technology may destroy massive swaths of the traditional university system (while conversely providing a bonanza for online education businesses), but with skyrocketing tuitions, a faltering student loan bubble, as well as parents and students becoming much more price conscious towards college tuition, traditional universities are ill-prepared to adapt to this new online technology.
Some colleges such as MIT and Stanford have seen the writing on the wall and are trying to transition to the emerging reality, but there’s a very real possibility that hundreds of universities could go bankrupt over the next decade.
As a final note, another educational industry to keep your eye on is online English teaching in developing markets. As Internet Live Stats reports, there are still over 3 billion people who don’t have access to the internet. But as the global telecommunications industry continues to penetrate into developing markets, the demand for one-on-one English teaching will also skyrocket (as well as other online industries such as marketing, advertising, and domain investment).
III) Alternative Currencies – It’s impossible to determine how the Great Recession is going to finally end, as the United States, China, Japan, and the European Union are all still in horrible economic shape. But one of the byproducts of the recession (especially among the Millennial Generation) is a skyrocketing interest in alternative currencies such as BitCoin.
Any internet marketer worth their salt should recognize how the explosion in alternative currencies could impact their businesses, because they’re probably only going to increase in popularity and come to represent a sizable chunk of online commerce. While much of the media attention has been dedicated to currencies such as Bitcoins and Liteoins, one of the most fascinating is Linden Dollars, which are the alternative currency used in the 3-D virtual game Second Life, which has spawned an entire online business sector and has turned many internet entrepreneurs into millionaires.
IV) Millennial Branding – As the Boomers continue to retire, the consumer habits of the 80 million strong Millennial Generation will come to dominate the economy as they assume culture, political, and economic leadership.
What might this entail for the future of the American economy? Plummeting car and home ownership levels (they really down deem them as important as Boomers), an explosion in popularity of eco-friendly brands, and a corporate culture where working at home becomes a standardized practice, these are just a few of the economic trends slowly working their way down the pipeline.
V) MicroTasking Companies – Kickstarter, Fiverr, TaskRabbit, Uber, and Lyft are but a few of the microtasking companies that cold completely redefine our understanding of work, as well as completely destroy the traditional eight-to-five, five day work week model.
Of all the microtasking industries, the one that could be the most game-changing could be microfinancing companies such as Kickstarter. The great recession hasn’t simply instilled within the younger generation an interest in alternative currencies, but also alternative financing models that circumvent the traditional banking sector.
VI) Work Automation and Digitization – While everyone talks about outsourcing’s impact on the economy, the real economic disruptor on the horizon might be the continued automation and digitization of brick-and-mortar jobs, with some experts predicting that as many as 30% of traditional jobs could disappear by 2025 .
Conclusion – It’s going to be wild ride. In fact over the next decade we’re probably going to see a transformation of human economic activity that has no parallel in human history. It’s probably going to be both a painful and exciting time, but what’s the lesson internet entrepreneurs should take away from this article?
Ride the tsunami. Otherwise the tsunami is going to ride you. Cutting-edge research and market awareness are crucial if your business is going to remain competitive. Don’t be caught flat-footed by the massive economic changes on the horizon.