At the same time as our economic engines are faltering and our politics are less sure than ever, something else has been happening. The mass market is being replaced by multiple micro markets and seemingly infinite choice.
The exchange of information creates ever more value, while commodity products and services are ever cheaper. It takes fewer employees to generate more value, make more noise and impact more people. As such, every individual, self-employed or employed, is now more in charge of their destiny than ever before.
The value chain is shifting and what used to be an essential asset is worth far less.
While risk remains high, opportunity is there for anyone smart enough to spot it and take it. They must develop the necessary skills to make it work, to tell a story, spread the word, be in demand, satisfy real needs, run from the mediocre middle and change everything.
But, while the opportunities are huge, all the fantastic business outcomes you can hope for in 2019 (and, indeed, the ones you have not yet even envisioned) are highly unlikely to materialise on their own.
Nine times out of 10, you will be required to do something first: to take some action. Sometimes this action will be big, other times it will be small. Often, we will not know which in advance.
However, what is for sure is that the difference in doing something and nothing can be everything.
We asked some advisers what single thing would make the biggest positive difference to their business next year.
I will share some of those thoughts next week but what is revealing is that only half of those questioned had a specific plan in place to make it happen.
Important decisions carry risk and they take time, so the instinct is to delay them.
After all, the idea of doing something risky and distracting later is far better than the reality of doing it now. The trouble is, that is nearly always the wrong strategy.
In 1924, Walt Disney wrote a letter to his friend Ub Iwerks urging him to leave Kansas City and join him to build an animation studio.
The last line of the letter said: “PS. I wouldn’t live in KC now if you gave me the place. Yep, you bet. Hooray for Hollywood.” And, just above, in larger letters, he scrawled: “Don’t hesitate – do it now.”
Phil Wickenden is managing director of Cicero Research