Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
20 trends to watch for in the next decade. Want to know what the future holds? Software maker Intuit, working with research firm Emergent Research, recently released their Intuit 2020 Report, a look at the demographic, social, and technological trends that will affect small businesses over the next decade. Among the key findings of the report is that women will play an increasingly large role in the global marketplace. One study suggests that 870 million women worldwide who have not previously participated in the mainstream economy will either gain employment or start their own businesses. The Intuit report also suggests that as technology continues to advance, emerging markets will become an important growth factor in the economy. Look for a new "global middle class" that will add more than a billion new consumers to the worldwide economy.
The advantage of being a young entrepreneur. Yes, younger entrepreneurs generally have more stamina for putting in the hours necessary to get a start-up off the ground. But Steve Blank says there's another reason they have an advantage over older first-time entrepreneurs: "they don't know any better."
Shooting for the sun. That's the headline The Atlantic has this month about Lonnie Johnson, an engineer and independent inventor who, most famously, came up with the Super Soaker squirt gun. More recently, he's trying to harness solar power more efficiently than is done by photovoltaic cells. The piece details Johnson's life as part of a vanishing breed: the independent inventor. It also narrates his quest to secure funding to create what he's dubbed the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Converter, or JTEC, which would split hydrogen atoms into protons and electrons, therefore converting heat into electricity without any moving parts. The best part? It would do so with an efficiency allowing solar power to be cost-competitive with coal.
Digg's new CEO says sorry. Matt Williams hadn't even been hired yet when Digg's contentious redesign was put in place in August, but as the current head of the company, he's issued a formal apology via blog post to users, thanking them for their "extremely candid feedback." That's putting it lightly. Williams promises readers that the site is "reinstating a number of the features many [users] loved about Digg," including the upcoming section, the bury button and user profiles. He maintains that Digg is now much faster thanks to the redesign and still pulled in 23 million unique visitors in September. "I don't need to tell you that without the Digg community, we're just another news web site," he writes. "Our top priority is to make Digg as good as it used to be."
1,000,000,000 Twitter followers? Can Twitter really attract a billion members - or about one-seventh of the world's population - to its 4-year-old service? That's the claim that Twitter co-founder Evan Williams made at a San Francisco INFORUM event recently, reported by ReadWriteWeb. With 145 million current users (nothing to scoff at), Twitter plans to roll out new features to aid in boosting membership, including an Events function. To clarify, "unlike Trends--which track currently popular words, phrases or hashtags (a keyword preceded by the pound sign)--events would track a number of keywords that auto-associate themselves with the event," the article notes. No word yet on when the new feature will be rolled out.
Apple aims to put a halt to "sexting." Parents of the world can now breathe a little easier. After two years, Apple has patented a device to prevent "sexting." TechCrunch reports that the US Patents and Trademark Office approved a patent Apple filed in 2008 to stop users from sending or receiving "objectionable" text messages. The application evaluates whether or not the text is unauthorized based on objective ratings or even a user's age level. If unauthorized, the application will actually block the text from being viewed and alert the user, the administrator, or other designated individuals (aka parents) of the presence of inappropriate material.
Staff editor KASEY WEHRUM has written for Inc. magazine on subjects ranging from the businesses behind professional bull riding to gadget inventor and father of the infomercial, Ron Popeil. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Worth, Budget Travel, and on MSNBC.com. He lives in Brooklyn.