2016 Business Trends Report for Millennial Entrepreneurs

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2015 has been a year ripe with change and watershed transformation, but as we move into 2016 many new trends lurk on the horizon.

Here are the top 6 emerging trends millennial entrepreneurs should look out for in the year ahead as they continue to tear up the global business landscape, bringing change and disruptive thinking to all they do:


Sound will continue to emerge as the new word, with the audio headphone industry expected to surpass $13 billion by 2016. This shift will continue to percolate with new business models that make sound experiences more accessible and streamlined (Pandora purchase of Ticketfly) along with TV shows built off of audio experiences (Serial the podcast becoming a TV show). As the paradigm shift continues, radio will continue to experience a renaissance period and will potentially reemerge as a centerpiece of marketing strategy, as opposed to an ancillary component.

Audio text messages will surge as well with new apps and technologies appearing to amplify this trend. We may also be able to look out for binge radio on the horizon. In the year ahead, ears will continue to become a critical canvas for expression and monetization.


Emojis will become their own language and among the most powerful forms of expression. Last year we witnessed customized emojis by race, this year we will see more characters and icons to represent our daily conversations. Prepare to see brands embrace emojis to heighten their marketings efforts (i.e. Facebook expanding from just thumbs up likes to emojis that express everything from humor to amazement).

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Additionally, it is likely that books, ads, GIFS, memes and other vessels of communication will be conveyed in full on emoji language. The recent translation of Moby Dick into complete emoji text is a clear harbinger of this trend and something marketers and consumers are sure to see more of as we move into 2016.


The sharing economy will continue to explode. We will see a continued push towards sharing business ecosystems that embrace the we instead of the me, and provide value and benefit to the communities they operate in as a whole.

This idea of businesses benefiting themselves, the consumers they serve, and local people seeking freelance employment will become more evident and an obvious sign of the permanence of our new Uber X economy.

The sharing economy will also continue to identify new untapped pockets of opportunity that can benefit from sharing and also potentially serve a greater or “social” purpose. Nimber, which seeks to facilitate the ability to transport and deliver cargo of all shapes and sizes based on currently available “unused” space is a great example of this trend. It also offers great insight into the type of offerings we will see a maturing sharing economy crank out in the weeks and months ahead.


As sharing economy challengers continue to emerge, they will begin to push market insurgents to finally begin to disrupt themselves in response to the recent tectonic shifts in the global economy. We have seen this for example with hotel players Hyatt and Wyndham creating challenger brands (onefinestay and Love Home Swap) to rival sharing economy stalwart Airbnb.

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As this new paradigm ensues, we will see a mix of old and new economies leading the era of collaborative commerce move forward and new consumer offerings provided across the board reimagine what is possible in a given market niche.

This push will place a premium on small batch offerings and we will continue to see the notion of all things bespoke impact everything from alcohol (customized engraved Knobs Creek Whiskey bottles) to tech giants (new Handmade at Amazon marketplace).


Questions will continue to circulate about the long-term viability, efficacy and safety of the sharing economy as traditional businesses continue to be threatened by new collaborative commerce insurgents.

However, as the innovation of our new economy continues to help transform society for the good, it is inevitable that regulation will begin to keep pace with innovation, providing the political infrastructure required for America to recapture its leadership foothold on the global stage.

As a result, more and more sharing economy businesses will arrive, and more and more opportunities to go freelance will materialize. A new crop of entrepreneurs and business leaders will appear to help guide us toward a brighter future.


2016 will bring with it a new year of course, but also a new generation of focus. For the first time in the year ahead, it will be Generation Z that begins to take center stage. With a population that is rapidly growing, marketers are already seeing the buying power of this demographic as they begin to share their voice on everything from technology to apparel. With 100 percent of this generation connected online, the ability of this group to influence public opinion is enormous.

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This trend dovetails well with the palpable shift of global business to continue to purposefully profit, which is something we will most definitely see more of in the year ahead.

Additionally as the voice of Generation Z, already known as the “Limitless Generation” continues to take shape, a more empathetic, as opposed to self serving tone will emerge. This shift also ties to another trend to look out for in the year ahead – empathy as one of the world’s greatest currencies.

What do you think?

Written by Billee Howard

Billee Howard is founder and chief engagement officer of Brandthropologie, and president of Mojo Risin Studios. She also founded Eleven, a national women’s network with the mantra ‘United We Rise United We Stand, and The House of We dedicated to the new sharing economy. She began her career at age twenty-two as press secretary for the president of the Philippines, and subsequently worked at the world's largest PR firm, Weber Shandwick and joined Allison + Partners where she launched the Brand Innovation Lab. Ms. Howard has her first book debuting December 1 from Penguin Random House- “We-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy” available in bookstores and on

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