Ask an Expert: Big trends in small business

No. 7. Say hello to your new assistant — your cellphone:It was in the middle of a great golf game earlier this year when I knew that the tried and true basic boring business cellphone was on its way out. It was then that our pal Richie, a big, burly guy who owns Richie's Bail Bonds, answered a call on his cellphone, a Sidekick. Previously, the only other Sidekicks I had ever seen were Paris Hilton's and my daughter Sydney's.

2007, of course, was the year that the iPhone was introduced, immediately upping the ante for all other cellphone makers.

The upcoming new generation of smart phones will be truly amazing. Get this: Japanese consumers already use their cellphones to scan McDonald's wrappers for nutritional information. Like the iPhone and iPod, expect simplicity to rule the day with these new devices.

No. 6: Search is still king:As everything goes online, the function of search to your business continues to grow in importance. While the most popular Google searches of 2007 were of celebrities, what is illuminating is the fastest rising searches (note how many are potentially business related):

1. The iPhone2. Webkinz (a stuffed animal you can play with online) 3. TMZ 4. Transformers5. YouTube6. Club Penguin (A networking site for kids) 7. MySpace8. Heroes9. Facebook

Social networking is that important? See next week's Top 5.

Ask an Expert appears Mondays. You can e-mail Steve Strauss at: sstrauss@mrallbiz.com.And you can click here to see previous columns. Steven D. Strauss is a lawyer, author and speaker who specializes in small business and entrepreneurship. His latest book is The Small Business Bible. You can sign up for his free newsletter, "Small Business Success Secrets!" at his website —www.mrallbiz.com.

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