Here are the first four of eleven Big Ideas selected by the editors of Inc. magazine. To read the complete article, please click here.
Online retailers have always competed by offering convenience and low prices, but they’ve lately began to master the art of getting people to buy things they don’t yet know they want. These new start-ups—like Gilt Group, LivingSocial, and Groupon—send locally targeted e-mails (hello, Shreveport, Louisiana!), give huge discounts (50 percent off is the norm), and make customers pull the trigger quickly, sometimes within a matter of minutes. It’s about making shopping feel too good to be true. And if Groupon’s latest sale offer is any indication, it’s a highly lucrative—if a bit saturated—field.
Radical transparency is so last decade. Privacy and security are the new concerns swimming in the zeitgeist. Blame it on brouhahas over airport body scanners, WikiLeaks, and customer tracking by Web companies. Look for more upstarts like LifeLock, which offers
identity theft protection, and Reputation Defender, which offers a service to remove one’s personal information from websites, to be capitalizing on newfound fears about privacy. And Big Brother, beware.
Yes, hiring. Ever heard of it? American companies shed millions of jobs during the recession. As the economy has recovered they’ve made up for the shortfall by getting more out of their workers—productivity grew by 3.5 percent in 2009. But productivity is slowing down, which means companies will have to start hiring again. What does it mean? You’ll have to work harder (and pay more) to attract talented, motivated people.
The cash register is still ubiquitous, but it has new high-tech cousins. Twitter inventor Jack Dorsey’s next start-up, Square, uses a cheap plastic attachment that turns an iPhone into a sophisticated point-of-sale system that can be used by any business, large or incidental. A host of other new companies are offering novel ways to pay, chiefly using smartphones: self-checkout apps, credit card chips embedded in phones, and a new offering from PayPal that allows money to be transferred by bumping two phones together. Fist bump! (Gently.)