As business re-invents itself, as it stumbles into the future, much of what we know to be tried and true is no longer working. As trust of big brands and certain industries continues to shrink, we need to consider newer ways of building that trust we took for granted. In 2006 Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine shared in his book, The Long Tail, Free is a business model. Jeff Jarvis writes about the model in his book called, What would Google Do? Gerd Leonhard talks about putting things out there, in the jungle, give much of your value away, where getting paid is a walk of faith, if you bring value, you will get paid. He has some interesting insight in his talk The Price of Freedom, he explains why ‘free’ content can still pay in the long term. I may be over simplifying the free model, but there is a bigger model to discuss, and it is related to the free model, it’s far bigger and a much more interesting model to consider.

People want something that allows them to participate, something of value that can’t be simply copied, something scarce that is worth paying for, but want to try it, taste it, smell it, before they hand over the cash. This is a faith walk because you don’t know where or if the money will come, it’s a YES / NO / MAYBE, complete ambiguity, complete faith in the consumer. Even if you are not giving it away outright, you may be letting them have access to it, to your product, your service or platform. The key word here is platform as I discussed in an blog post a few days ago.

We are entering a society that doesn’t value ownership, we would rather rent it or borrow it when shared, long before buying it. The longer you sit out here on the NET, the world gets smaller, you find like-mined people much quicker, and some are sharing the same message you may be sharing. That doesn’t matter, each of us has a voice, each of us has something of value to share, each of us sees things differently, our voice matters, so share your take on things. Give yourself away, let people rent you and your content. Build a platform that can’t be ignored, then share it.

I came across an interesting TED talk by Lisa Gansky called, The Future of Business is The MESH. In this talk she shares that access will trump ownership, that a brand is a voice, a product is a souvenir, we are in the pursuit of better things to easily share. The need for aligning value with the true cost. I love finding new people sharing the same message you find here on this blog, and I love sharing their work with you.

Here is Lisa’s talk, it’s a short 15 minutes, enjoy!

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?

Have you ever come across someone who articulates your thoughts better than you do? I am flabbergasted by Gerd Leonhard, it’s like he is reading my mind, and then puts it in words I could never have thought of, or deliver it in such a powerful way, it is a special treat to follow his work. I hope you pay attention, we share the same message differently.

He spoke recently at ictQATAR’s Connected Speakers Series, and the greatest description, the best quote I have heard to date to describe The Future of Business & Media. Please read it slowly and ponder the depth of his words.

“The future of business and media is all about interconnected business models that generate mutual benefits for everyone. The era of ‘egosystems’ such as walled, controlled, centralized and RoI-obsessed businesses, is rapidly closing. Now it’s all about creating powerful ecosystems that are built on openness, standards, transparency, trust and decentralization. Think Google versus AT&T, or Twitter versus FoxNews.”

Much change is coming, it’s impossible to prepare for all that is coming, but you can at least be aware and then make changes to lessen the blow. What Gerd is talking about here is a complete reversal of what we believe business is and should remain. As I have said many times, this paradigm shift is not about technology, it’s not about skill set, it’s about how we think. How we look at business as it really is in a digital world.

Please share your thoughts.

Imagine you’ve been blogging for the last 3 years, maybe longer, it seems like no one wants to know what you happen to be sharing, maybe 35 people a day stop by and take a quick glance, and then POOF! they’re gone. Your bounce rate is over 80% and time spent by visitors is less than 2 minutes, you’re discouraged, you think you’re waisting your time, in fact you’re thinking of quiting.

That scenario is more common than you might think, and that’s by today’s standards of blogging, it may even be a business going through the same challenges. If you are just blogging to share whatever is going on in your life or information you find interesting, don’t fret, in fact you can get excited. Businesses that try blogging, creating content, and using social media networks, tend to have very little patience for activities that don’t generate revenue quickly. Blogging, or sharing may look much different than today, it will have to be delivered to all mobile device formats.

There is much more to blogging and creating content than just throwing whatever is on your mind out there, hoping it will go viral. If you are mostly interested in making money through blogging, then you need a plan, more importantly a why, a direction, where are you going and what does it look like when it’s finished. Oh, and of course a product or service to sell, but that’s another blog post. Sorry to burst your bubble, but do the plan first, and know the why.

So many people think the Internet is “THE” success vehicle without thinking through what that means, the Internet is merely a door that leads to other doors. The Internet is the game changer for sure, but it is mostly a way to distribute products & services, your content, your voice. The future of business is still the same process of solving problems for consumers, the difference is, they no longer will tolerate being forced into buying upfront. Gerd Leonhard coined this phrase, “Proudly Found Elsewhere”. The masses will keep looking until they find it for free, so keep that cool little phrase in mind when planning. 

The Blog, the website, is your doorway, is your sharing doorway blocked with a Toll Booth that may be in the wrong place? The younger generations and those yet to be birthed, want access first, they want to try it, touch it, smell it, and yes experience your product or service before making that financial commitment. Sounds backwards doesn’t it, but that’s how they think, and they will boycott faster than you can blink if you try to force them to buy.

One of the first action items before blogging or doing business online, is to know what you are about, what is the core of your business. Knowing what the core is makes it easier to understand which direction to go in, and help you seek out those who are looking for your information, product or service. You will also want to step back and look at a bigger picture, a view of what is yet to come, to get some of understanding who is coming and how they think.

Your content, your voice, does have an audience, it takes time and patience to reach them, and to find them. Depending on your brand, time will be the key commodity,time is what you will invest in the most. Everything you do, all the hours spent into developing, creating, and or building, knows why you are investing. The Future of Business – Your Content, Your Voice matters, eventually there will be an audience looking for you. I say this because the number of Internet users are still in small numbers, eventually, over the next 5 years we will see another 3 – 4 billion people become users of the Internet. Imagine a marketplace consisting of 7 Billion people someday, getting heard will be difficult, so stick with it. Because if you quit now, you will miss out on golden opportunities that have yet come, yet to be discovered, imagine what can be, plan for it, and see the future of your business in terms of, your content, and your voice.