I'm not going to claim that I'm a futurist by any stretch of the imagination, but in my role as president and co-founder of helloalice.com, I meet innovative small business owners from all walks of life every day. Seeing what new projects are in the works from a wide range of companies keeps my eyes open to what's new -- and what's on the horizon.
Diversity is the main theme that I'm observing, and I couldn't be happier about that. Not only are we seeing businesses of every kind, from VR and mixed reality software to food companies, but I'm especially excited that the founders themselves come from varied backgrounds. I call them the New Majority: women, people of color, veterans, the LGBTQ+ community, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.
So what do I foresee coming up in the New Year? These are my educated guesses.
Companies that focus on analog and in-person services will thrive.
Whether highlighting physical products or getting back to in-person engagement, one trend I've been starting to see are companies coming out from behind the computer. I'm thinking of products that you can actually hold in your hand, replacing the digital forms we've been using. For example, Silk + Sonder is a subscription service that sends out monthly planners with real paper pages. The same thing goes for Little Feminist, which gets kids reading with physical books. I'm also seeing a rise in physical networking like Bumble Bizz First Movers Summits.
Values-driven companies will continue to grow.
I have a values-driven company, and I think we're only going to see this trend surge. From Yoobi, a school supply business that donates an item to a child in need for every product customers buy, to Houston's Black Sheep Agency, which specializes in getting the word out about nonprofits and civic entities, this is nothing new, but as consumers become more aware of the power companies have to do good, the more businesses will take advantage -- and help.
There will be a rise in veteran-owned businesses.
As our troops pull out of the Middle East, you're going to see a definite rise in veterans starting their own companies. There are 2.52 million veteran-owned business in the country already, and 99 percent of them are categorized as small businesses. I'm expecting to see a lot more folks using their military experience to excel at their next mission, running a business. This includes military spouses with their innovative approach to products and services.
Business people will focus on the election.
Entrepreneurs are going to be incredibly involved in the election. According to the National Small Business Association, 93 percent of business owners vote, compared to the 58 percent of the general population who voted in the last presidential election. That means that, wherever they fall on the spectrum, business owners are going to be fighting for their rights and getting political.
Security will be on entrepreneurs' minds.
Business owners, even small ones, are going to be focused on security in 2020. Why? Remember Capital One's data breach back in July? It affected roughly 100 million customers -- that's 30 percent of the US population. We simply can't afford to have that happen to our businesses. Microsoft has a new suite that is betting on this trend: Security Essentials and I can't recommend it more strongly. After all, being protected is one of the best ways to ensure a happy, healthy New Year for your business.
So grab your Champagne and say, "Cheers!" to small business owners and all positive trends for the future.