[Infographic] 2016 Business Trends for Entrepreneurs

As the New Year rapidly approaches, we begin to reflect on 2015, which has been a year full with ripe change and watershed transformation. However, as we move into 2016 many new trends are lurking on the horizon. Here are the top 10 emerging trends to look out for in the year ahead that will impact entrepreneurialism, innovation and the consumer landscape overall.

Sharing Economy Trends 2016

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Culting

In the past people were loyal to brands simply because of name brand recognition, status or taste. People today pick brands because of the experiences they offer and the connections to other likeminded people that they can provide. This has given birth to an entirely different relationship between people and the products they buy and support, which looks and feels more like a faithful following than brand advocacy. Today, when people say they would rather fight than switch, they really mean it.

In this new “culting” environment, people connect with brands and create dialogues not only with them but also through them. Creatively destructed brands, who are agile and able to respond to this impulse, are consciously employing the same devices used by traditional cult leaders and faith based organizations to create and grow living and breathing cults that invite us in to live, love, play, believe, evangelize, and worship in their House of We.

Brands, just like cults, look to create a tight knit community of like-minded believers. They ignite passion, encourage belief in a particular ideology, seed rivalry and inspire loyalty. They provide strong and charismatic leadership, provide the opportunity for total immersion in the cult experience, and place an emphasis on the power of we rather than me. The influence of culting has the potential to have a positive and healing effect on commerce and culture, because it is transforming brands from merchants of goods, into merchants of good doing and inspiring a re-envisioned social activism, with people banding together behind a common ideal, or vision of justice, and taking it to the streets in a whole new and passionate way.

The Next Made in the USA

One of the defining legacies of the Industrial Revolution is the idea that more is good and less is bad; that bigger is stronger, and better, and that smaller is weaker and inferior and something to be grown out of as quickly as possible. Big houses, big stores, big stars, and big brands, all receive automatic legitimacy and respect simply because of their unrivaled and unbeatable scope and scale.

The industrial internet is now turning the notion that bigger is better on it’s head. Thanks to the technological wonders of the era of engagement, the individual entrepreneur, the latest viral video sensation or the fledgling emerging market nation are all on a level playing field with the superpowers. Size is not a leading edge or an enduring benefit any longer. In fact, in our sharing economy, size is a liability.  Smaller, more agile micro-brands able to co-create artistic, custom product and build communities around their brand points of view are flourishing. It is these bespoke, artistically driven micro-brands that are the model of success for the future, when the mantra won’t be too big to fail, but too big to succeed.

Creative Destruction: Why Failure is the New Success

Nothing changes until it has to. This is true of people, of companies, of cultures, governments, and even of Mother Nature herself. If the Colorado River had never gotten stuck between a rock and a hard place on it’s way to the Sea of Cortez, it would never have sculpted the Grand Canyon. If Steve Jobs hadn’t dropped out of college and gotten fired from his own company, we might never have experienced another great wonder of the world, the i-Phone. We are currently in the midst of a period of disruption and creative destruction.

The old tenets, institutions and systems have failed. We as a culture and an economy are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and just like the Colorado River, the only possibility for success is to innovate a new course through the mountains. As we move toward a society ruled not by the few but by the many-the ability to sit back and rest on one’s laurels as an established brand authority will cease to exist as a viable alternative. As we shift from consumers to artists, and from a manufacturing to a sharing economy, success will demand that everyone strive for the insurgency of a challenger, even if they are the established incumbent. The future favors those who are not only able to survive periods of disruption, but consciously seek it out in order to remain creative, innovative, and competitive.

Monochromatic Portrait of Andy Warhol

The Warhol Economy

Andy Warhol’s famous prediction that in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes has come home in spades in our viral, reality TV driven era of engagement and now, has gone even a step further. Just as Andy foreshadowed when he said that good business is the best art, business is indeed not just business anymore, but has fused with culture and become the latest artistic movement. The world of today is driven by participatory events of mass individualism that engage us on an emotional and collective level, allowing us to express ourselves philosophically, creatively and artistically, and join together with others who share our passions and positions.

This emphasis on self expression and public exhibition, which is in fact, the opposite of cocooning, has created a Warhol economy where not only can everyone be famous for fifteen minutes, everyone can be an artist and create their own artistic community, based around brand.

Brands and the experiences they create have become art, and products have become canvases of expression. In the Warhol economy, we are no longer selling soda; we are selling an emotional experience, a vehicle for self-expression, and an opportunity to engage with others who can appreciate what we have created. The message and intent of the Warhol factory model finally has finally been realized. Art and business have merged, and will lead to a more artistic and creatively connected marketplace and a more democratized and globalized culture shaped by the many, and not just by the mighty few.