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The One Unifying Force That Can Save the Planet

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Every new year over at my USA TODAY column, I post a two-part "Top Trends in Small Business" piece. It is always interesting to see how much, and how little, the list changes every year.

Of course, the latest tech gadgets and tools (smart phones, apps, the cloud, etc.) always make it on. Sometimes it's the economy that is the biggest trend (hello 2008), and sometimes things make the list and never show up again, for instance, "Global warming may put you out of business" (2007.) OK, we can't get them all right.

I mention all of this because it occurs to me that the biggest trend of them all in the past decade, the most significant thing to come along in a long time, has never actually made it into my trends column. And what is that?

Entrepreneurship won.

Not only did communism fall, but the advent of the computer age, the Internet, e-commerce, mobile phones, social media and all the rest now means that anyone, anywhere can become an entrepreneur. And they are. From China to Russia to the U.S. and beyond, people are, in ever-increasing numbers, taking up the entrepreneurial banner.

Indeed, even in the Arab world, entrepreneurship is duking it out with oligarchs to win over the hearts and minds of the people. (See, for example, Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East.)

This is no small thing, indeed it is a big thing, the biggest thing. At a time when the world seems to be cracking into ever more smaller groups demanding their rights, when global warming is a real threat, when violence seems to be on a forward march, entrepreneurship offers an antidote. Entrepreneurship is about creating something, not destroying anything. It is about using creativity and teamwork and intelligence to solve problems. It forges bonds and moves us forward.

That it is also an economic force and not a religious one is no small matter either.

Entrepreneurs large and small, green entrepreneurs, e-entrepreneurs, tech entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, micro entrepreneurs, political entrepreneurs and many others are all changing the shape of the planet, radically and for the better.

Today, entrepreneurship is about much more than just creating a business. It is a mindset. It is a skillset. It is a way of looking at the world, seeing problems, creating teams, finding solutions and solving problems for mutual benefit, whether that means building a better mousetrap, teaching a man how to fish instead of giving him a fish, or overthrowing a dictator.

To document all of these changes and to fully examine the extent of this global entrepreneurial phenomenon, I teamed up with several other members of the World Entrepreneurship Forum this past year to explain this revolution in detail. The result is a new book, just published, called Planet Entrepreneur.

In it, 14 world-class experts and entrepreneurs share the full scope of the changing global nature of entrepreneurship and how you can benefit from understanding this, the hugest of trends. For example:

Nicholas Shea details how, while a part of the startup community at Stanford, he received a call from his home in Chile. The country had just experienced an 8.2 earthquake and was devastated. Could he help?

Nico flew back to Chile with an audacious plan: to create a South American version of the Silicon Valley -- an entrepreneurial incubation system that would attract and reward entrepreneurs who would be willing to go to Chile to start their businesses. Each one would get technical assistance, and a $40,000 startup grant.

The result, Startup Chile, has been wildly successful.

Baybars Altuntas is a shark on the Turkish version of the hit TV show Shark Tank. His chapter, "Hello Entrepreneurs, Goodbye Borders" not only shows that entrepreneurial countries rarely go to war, but it is also the best advice I have ever read for someone who is looking for angel investments, bar none.

And yes, I wrote a few chapters too -- on Intrapreneurship, and the rise of the global self-employed entrepreneur.

So my oversight in my column has been corrected, big time. The global entrepreneurial revolution is here to stay, and it is probably something of which you want to be a part. Why?

Because the biggest trend of them all is that we all now live on Planet Entrepreneur.