You’ve either heard me say it, or you have read it here many times, ” The Future of Business is not a skill set, it’s more about how we think”. For some reason business owners always end up at tactics, they come back to the ground level and try to do what they have always done. A great example is the Old Spice Campaign, they went out and created an amazing series of commercials, ran them and missed out on the most important part. Engaging with the audience! Instead they went right to tactics to get more views and more followers instead of actually talking to their audience. They really missed the boat here, they blew it big time. What happened, it became just another advertising campaign that was clever and amusing.

We are entering a huge crisis for business owners, it gets more urgent the longer you wait to educate yourself on how business really is today, and will be tomorrow. Part of the challenge is in the business owners head, they believe they know what is happening, and they don’t want to look foolish either, so they plod along not asking for help.

With everything going mobile and social, more and more to tiny screens, some on larger surfaces, we are moving away from what we have always done. We used to be people of the book, now we are people of the screen (a Kevin Kelly quote). In fact, Kevin wrote a bitty on 6 trends:

1.) Screening

2.) Interacting

3.) Sharing

4.) Accessing

5.) Flowing

6.) Generating

I’ll let Kevin Kelly fill you in on the details of these 6 trends, which he wrote about in 2008, I’m just going to touch on a couple.

Everything is flowing now, it’s endless rivers of content, endless streams. Business today is shifting and flowing from one thing to another. We are going from pages to streams, the PC to the cloud, from Today to NOW (real-time streams), from me to we, from items to data. Gerd Leonhard claims Data is the new Oil, how we harness that data can determine much of our success in the marketplaces. Today, everything generates a stream everywhere. Gary Vaynerchuk calls it our legacy, the trail of digital crumbs that we publish on the Internet is how people will remember us.

Ultimately, our business world online is shifting to a very uncomfortable place, we live in a world where everything is moving to free, or feels like free. Someday soon, like music, all books will eventually be $0.99, and will stay in long tail for many years, generating longer cash-flow. We have been moving to where the only things of value are things that can’t be copied. Business owners need to realize, where ever the attention flows, money will follow.

The psychology of tomorrows entrepreneurs is simple, they want lifestyle not work-style, they will look for ways to get attention, this attention will provide the lifestyle many of us have worked for 30 years to get. They will do it in months instead of years. These entrepreneurs don’t value ownership, ownership of home, ownership of car, they are for more willing to rent, the shift from ownership to rental, where access is better than ownership. The likes of Netflix and services of that nature are driving this new theology. It’s not skill set, it’s how we think, we need to pay attention, listen more, and we have to build things that can’t be copied, like Trust. How do you build trust, get to know your audience, interact and build relationships. Don’t sell, just engage.

The Internet has changed how we view our world, it has changed how we spend our time and our money, and it has most definitely changed the way we do business. The future of business is getting more and more sci-fi, it’s hard to compute (no pun intended), but we are headed to a world we used to watch in movies.

Get ready for Facebook‘s virtual currency, Facebook Credits, will become the official coin of the realm beginning July 1, 2011. Imagine that, being able to purchase products and services with Twitter and FaceBook Credits, next you will be able to pay your mortgage with those credits. I’m all for that. In fact, in November 2010 The Dallas Mavericks Basketball team offered Free FaceBook Credits for Twitter Followers. Soon you and I will be able to make direct deposits to our bank accounts without ever having to go there, you will do it on your mobile device anytime, anywhere. Payroll direct deposit is archaic compared to the swipe technology of today. You will also make most of your purchase with this swipe technology on your smart-phone, it is predict 60% of all commerce will be done in this fashion.

The real future of business will be Virtual Reality and Hologram technology, but that technology is still developing, we will shop in our homes and never have to go out into the masses of people. Imagine being able to try on clothes without ever actually having to try on clothes, say what! Social Networks will handle all the market research, the data will be staggering, there’s a business to start, organize all that data and sell it back to the business sector. eMarketer has a similar model, they are a great resource but, you better have some coin to get the real valuable data. As Gerd Leonhard of The Futures Agency says, Data is the New Oil.

We are moving to a place where you can’t hide, you can’t lie, and you can’t have a bad product or service if you want to survive in this new business landscape. The world is becoming more and more mobile and social, that’s a hot tip for you right there.

So how do you succeed in the future of business? At a high level it’s simple really, grow bigger ears, get very mobile and social, and above all else, engage with the people formerly known as consumers, it’s not business as usual kids, pay attention. The business landscape is getting more open & free, that’s the business model, Open & Free. It’s an access first society, people want access more than they ever want to be sold and forced to pay upfront. Figure out how to give people access, and you will find the revenue follows, the toll booth is no longer at the front gate, it should be almost invisible and seamless.

Would you make purchase with Twitter and FaceBook Credits?

Now that the Christmas & New Years Break are behind us, we all have to get back to work at some point this week, except for the financially free folks who can do what they want. I thought I would give you a snapshot of three things that will come to fruition this year. They are very easy to predict but I can tell you this, many people don’t understand why or how it will impact their future in business. It’s not what happens, it’s how you see the future of business before it happens.

Let me get into it. Firstly, you need to understand 60% of commerce is and has been shifting to the Internet, online commerce is already huge, but it’s morphing. This will happen over the next couple years.

1.) Affiliate Programs – This year we will see a shift to where everyone will be part of affiliate marketing, it will be based on your following, how much influence you have, and of course credibility. These are just a few of the indicators that will be looked at for you to be a part of company “A’s” Affiliate program, they want to know that you have influence, a big following of consumers that will buy. Look for these programs to grow up away from the typical Internet Marketer, but do your research if a company approaches you.

This shift to the Affiliate Model, it may get a better name, will be part of the 60% of commerce I mentioned above. Consider how much and what you purchase online, you are now being looked at as a business partner rather than a consumer in 2011.

If you are a business, you may want to start your own Affiliate Program, you will also want to take advantage of Apps for the mobile market, why, read item #2.

2.) Everything goes Mobile & Social – the landscape I talked about in #1 means most of this commerce will be done through smart phones. The big three as of this writing are Apples iPhone, Microsoft’s Windows 7 Phone, and of course Google’s Android Phone. Each of these three have App Stores, not too mention the hardware makers have their own App Stores, like Samsung, Nokia and so on. This is a huge untapped marketplace, why, not everyone has a smart-phone, but they will.

Even if you are just a Blogger, get your content into one of the App Store Channels, give your content away for FREE, or charge a dollar for it, this is a new place of business for the majority. This is the year Mobile changes how we communicate and how we purchase many products and services, start making your move now, if you don’t….you will become a statistic.

Almost all of this commerce I speak of will come through Social & Mobile means, it’s the way of the new world. We are connected now, which means we are social & on the fly.

3.) Strategic Alliances – This description of doing business is not new, but it will be paramount to survival in business. Most of us will partner with someone or a some business, it’s a resource and reach thing. The have nots will not be able to fly on their own, they will need help more than the haves. The truth is, we will ALL partner up at some point to succeed in business, going it alone will be an exception rather than the rule. Prepare to have others on your team, prepare to share your wealth as well, having smart people on your team is worth the investment.

What do strategic alliances look like, Wal-Mart & McDonald’s is a good example of the term. They share revenues to leverage the number of consumers each has to offer, refer to #1, your following, your FaceBook Credit Points, your Twitter Influence will matter, these numbers will be attractive to companies. You don’t have to be as big as Wal-Mart or McDonalds. It might be just two people with large followings that get together to do business as strategic alliances, why, because it makes good sense and good business. Get ready to partner in 2011.