From the December 2011 issue of Entrepreneur

Amy C. CosperWhen historians reflect on the year A.D. 2011, it will be with mixed emotions. Depending on your perspective, it was a year replete with innovation, creativity and opportunity, but also a year of recession, high unemployment and low confidence. The dichotomy of the year and the emotions it triggers are telling signs that we are at a turning point--a near breaking point, really. Not only in our economy, but also in the way we approach our future.

And that future is looking far more entrepreneurial than corporate these days. That is certain.

The year 2011 will most likely be remembered as the year social media found its voice and discovered its power. The new relationship between brands and customers will forever be changed. Customers are now active participants in companies, brands, funding and collaboration. Imagine this: For the first time in history customers are influencing company strategy--arm-in-arm with CEOs.

So powerful is the collective voice that 2011 saw entire governments collapse in revolutions conceived through grass-roots social media collaboration. And companies large and small are learning--some more slowly than others--that listening to the collective voice is as strategic as formal research and complicated Mindjet maps.

But perhaps the greatest gift from 2011 is that it laid the foundation for a stunning 2012, a year that promises an acceleration of the lessons, opportunities and explosive land mines from 2011. A turning-point year for us.

Within the pages of this issue, we give you our predictions for the trends that will shape the coming year. From the clunky-sounding "gamification" movement to collaborative commerce and extreme fitness, we've handpicked the sectors with the most economic impact and the most opportunity. These are just the guideposts. As entrepreneurs, I'm sure you'll take the next 12 months to prove us wrong. The one undeniable thread is that as entrepreneurs, you must continue to surprise and delight your customers.

The mantra rolling into the new year? Rules must be broken, and so must smelly old business models and thick, syrupy bureaucracy. And any expectations that fat corporate jobs are coming back? Kiss that one goodbye, and let's move forward with what we've got and create and execute in unexpected ways.

That, my friends, is a jobs plan. Now if we could just get the damn banks to lend a little, we could change the world.

Amy C. Cosper
Amy C. Cosper,
Editor in chief
Follow me on Twitter, @EntMagazineAmy