Big Ideas for 2010

What big ideas will change small business and entrepreneurship in 2010?

I’ll start with two that are on my radar.

New ways to finance social ventures. Right now profit-making enterprises that also have social and environmental goals don’t neatly fit into existing legal structures like corporations or nonprofits. That limits how they can raise money. People are working to create a new corporate form for hybrid social ventures (see this briefing from B-Corp). That could unlock new capital — think of assets in philanthropic and university endowments — for social enterprises.

Local capital markets. Speaking of unlocking new sources of capital, people are looking for ways to easily invest in local businesses. It’s a natural extension of the “buy local” and “eat local” movements. The nascent Slow Money movement wants to develop vehicles to invest in local food enterprises. Others are floating new types of financial instruments or the return of local stock exchanges. The point is right now you can easily invest a portion of your retirement savings into a diverse mix of global companies, but you can’t use the same savings to capitalize local businesses in your city. Changing that would open a huge new source of capital to small businesses.

What big ideas are you tracking?

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