The internet is not a fad. While the majority of folks I talk to would agree, I am surprised on a daily basis by how many small business owners, and even a few consultants are still not sure.

I am not going out on a limb when I predict the general technology is going to be a mainstay of marketing and business.  However, how we interact with the internet and use it to connect with each other is going to continue to change. How? No one knows for sure, but Pete Cashmore, better known as Mashable had some interesting ideas based on his observance of the the web about a year ago.  I stumble across the post recently, and thought it would be fun to check in and see if he was right.   Among his predictions:

  • Real-time ramps up – The term represents the growing demand for immediacy in our interactions. Immediacy is compelling, engaging, highly addictive … it’s a sense of living in the now.
  • Location, location, location Fueled by the ubiquity of GPS in modern smart phones, location-sharing services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and Google Latitude are suddenly in vogue
  • Cloud computing – The cloud movement will see a major leap forward in the first half of 2010 with the launch of “Office Web Apps,” free online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote released in tandem with Microsoft Office 2010.

What is the impact of some of these trends on small business?

  • Our customers expect us to be more responsive.  This can be challenging for small firms with just a few, or sometimes only one employee.  How do you manage?  Set expectations, create simple systems which allow you to let people know you saw their note, and will get information to them.  Commit to, and follow through on delivery on specific time lines.
  • FOURSQUARE, FOURSQUARE, FOURSQUARE – While different location tools may be popular around the world, in Indy it is definitely Foursquare.  If you have a specific location for your business, you need to be checking in regularly, asking clients and friends to check in, and offering tips, hints and possibly specials or coupons for guests and mayors!
  • When I first joined Lennox Industries in 1988, my terminal was connected to the larger company network.  I actually saved no files on my desktop.  Then came PC’s and distributed processing, and today, I am once again connected to a network, with few files actually on my desktop.  The expansion of cloud services like Google Docs and DropBox set small business owners free.  Computing capacity and server space are available for a fraction of what you paid even a few years ago.  Starting a business has never been easier.

So what’s next?   I am not sure, but I plan on watching the trends, trying new tools, and looking for new ways to grow my business with this thing called the Internet.