What will entrepreneurship look like in the future?

A photo of a woman with various technology imagery on the side of her head
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Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
18 May 2022

By 2050, personal avatars will be running the UK’s small businesses according to a new futurology report commissioned by Virgin Money.

The SME 2050 report describes a future landscape where intelligent, virtual clones, driven by AI and machine learning will be able to manage workload while business owners focus on priority tasks, enjoy some downtime, and even sleep. Avatars will be programmed by entrepreneurs using their business persona and will be fully independent and authorised to operate and make decisions on their behalf.

UK futurologist Dave Coplin also suggests that all small businesses will be global businesses by default, with virtual specialists able to do business anywhere in the world, regardless of location, language and time zone.

The report also predicts that by 2050 business owners will be ‘human computers’, equipped with advanced cybernetic implants to give them instant access to information, and the ability to speak whatever language is required as the implants will be able to translate words in real-time. Cybernetic eyes will allow entrepreneurs to take photos and record footage, a brain-to-computer interface will give them the ability to download and upload information, and embedded microchips will unlock doors and facilitate payments.

Virgin Money
Virgin Money

As part of the futurology work commissioned by Virgin Money, a new survey revealed a robust appetite among small businesses for new and advanced technology to save time and grow their business. More than three-quarters of UK small businesses said they would be likely to use tech that would save them time to reinvest and plan for the future – with 85% saying that they’re ready to adopt new technologies within the next five years.

However, with new technology comes bigger costs and more than a third of small businesses said that a lack of funds would prevent them from using advanced technology.

Dave Coplin said: “While most business owners would love to have a crystal ball to predict future opportunities and barriers, the reality is in the past 30 years our lives and businesses have undergone dramatic change that very few people foresaw. In the 1990s, businesses sent letters printed on dot-matrix printers or faxes to communicate, unable to predict we’d be having the daily virtual meetings we’re so used to today. The next three decades are likely to be similarly transformational, so SME leaders should focus on building their capacity to adapt their business in response.”

Recognising the challenges that SMEs face, Virgin Money has launched a new, free business banking service, M-Track, which allows current account customers to collate their banking information with data from other systems they use to run their business. 

By connecting all of their separate business applications into one platform, M-Track provides customers with a snapshot of their business’ position, with personalised insights – drawing together data from their current account, accountancy software, e-commerce platform, social media and other business tools. This makes it much easier for small businesses to manage their money and business performance – saving time and giving them control. 

“Our research reveals that SMEs are busy and have a lack of time to invest, so they want a partner who can help them access financial information and solutions quickly and efficiently to help their future growth,” Kash Ahmad, head of business banking at Virgin Money, said. “That’s why we’ve created M-Track, which provides an online dashboard for customers to track their business’ health, marking a further step forward as we create a market-leading digital business account.”

Visit Virgin Money to find out more and download the full SME 2050 report.