Walking Away by M_A_R_KMost blog posts this time of year are focused on reviewing the January-to-December ups and downs and predicting what lies ahead in the New Year. We try to apply some sense of logic to our behavior and hope that it calms our nerves enough to keep looking optimistically to the future.

When I look back over 2013, I see a lot of wonderful developments (number of female entrepreneurs are on the rise), interesting surprises (Blackberry is still hanging in there!), and disappointing trends (email marketing overload). I’d like to head into 2014 knowing that some of those trends will remain in the past, but sadly, I fear that is not to be.

Why?

Because businesses and entrepreneurs haven’t caught on that some trends are either meaningless or damaging. What are some of these trends I speak of? Let me share just a few of my least favorites.

1) The “Branding” of Branding

If business owners in 2013 created a drinking game where you had to drink a shot for every article, seminar, conference or blog post that insisted that branding was the only thing separating us from success, we’d all have been drunk before April Fool’s Day. We get it! A brand will help solidify your business into one cohesive unit that will not only provide direction for your company, but also create recognition of what you offer that others do not.

But some of you (bloggers, speakers and gurus alike) aren’t even sure what branding is yourselves. Half of the articles contradict themselves with content claiming branding is this and not that. The other half of your messages portray you as a sage who created the perfect brand before you built your business. In doing so, your success appears the result of making all the right choices at all the right times without a hint of reorganization, bad planning or unfortunate mistakes to prove that triumph was inevitable.

I know the concept of a building a brand will not die in 2013, but I certainly wish it would take a sabbatical. At least until we’ve weeded out the experts who a) keep regurgitating what’s already been written, or b) a few more “get rich quick” trendy buzzwords have had their time to shine.

2) Solo is the new Yolo

Simple question. Why is “solopreneur” even a word? What does it communicate that “entrepreneur” does not? Does entrepreneur imply that more than one person sits at the helm of your business venture? It doesn’t. So why create a word to emphasize that you’re a one-man band operation?

I’m not sure when solopreneur was invented and 2013 isn’t the first time I’ve seen it litter the social media pipeline. But it has certainly increased in usage, and for no beneficial purpose other than to fill the business cards of trendsetters who see a lot of themselves in Tom Haverford.

Will “solopreneur” go away in 2014? My money says no, but I think it will be heard less and less as it gets replaced by another unnecessary synonym.

3) Open Concept Insert Hatred

I’ll just come out and say it. Open-concept offices were created by bosses who hate introverts and want to spy on their employees. Sound harsh? Allow me to explain.

Instead of acknowledging the reality that an office space sans internal walls (either cubicle-based or actual) is not the best idea for every industry, we continue to hear facile justification after facile justification as to why they are “good for business.” In 2013, we saw more and more American businesses leading millions of workers down a road of unproductive, distracted and miserable work spaces.

Are there some industries where an open-concept office (or bullpen as it was referred to years ago) works well? Certainly. Are there plenty of industries where it’s a virtual nightmare wrapped in a torrent of intrusion marred by the threat of impending noise? Abso-freaking-lutely.

Sadly, I see more and more of this open office structure being erroneously validated lately. Despite the fact that it seems to shoehorn introverts into yet another scenario where they are expected to behave like extroverts, thereby alienating 50% of the American workforce — the open-concept office was celebrated as a goldmine of ingenuity in 2013. It saves companies money on furniture and equipment; it gives the illusion of fun, collaborative teamwork; and it allows bosses and coworkers to spy on their colleagues’ computer screens throughout the day. It’s a win-win-win in the world of business.

And I’m sure we’ll see more of it in 2014. Until introverts move into higher positions of power where their work-styles and contributions are valued more, the open-concept office will likely linger well past its “Best Before 2013” due date.

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Now, I know you’re reading this and thinking: “Candace, why all the negativity?” Trust me, I love my business and I adore embracing any helpful advice or tool that would improve it. That’s why I have so little patience for ideas and fads that present window dressing as authenticity.

In the New Year, I’ll continue to work toward creating an environment of honesty, clarity and dependability. It doesn’t matter if I’m working full-time for The Corporation or freelance for The Entrepreneur, I hope to see a future where we embrace success built on hard work, perseverance and ingenuity. And wouldn’t it be amazing if we achieved that without buzzworthy trends clouding our vision?

What trends would you like to leave behind in 2013?