Home Entrepreneurship Learn to Evolve — Trend Spotting Advice for Business Decision-Makers

Learn to Evolve — Trend Spotting Advice for Business Decision-Makers

by Olufisayo
Trend Spotting Advice for Business Decision-Makers

So much of what makes someone successful in business is an ability to predict the future. Picking up on trends when they are in their infancy can mean the difference between building a retail empire and missing out hugely.

No matter what industry you are in, to be successful, your business should be growing. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. So branching out, doing continuous research, and understanding the direction of your market is crucial. Here are some tips for staying ahead of the curve and honing your future-predicting skills.

Trend Spotting Advice for Business Decision-Makers

Always Expect Change

First and foremost, before you even start looking at what trends are possible, plausible, likely, and so on, you should never believe that your sector will stand still. Even if you don’t have solid information about what the direction of change will be, staying on your toes so you are ready to move whichever way the wind blows is evergreen advice. Agile businesses succeed, while heavy and unwieldy ones struggle.

In practice, this might mean looking at likely political shifts or social fads. For example, the scale of the 2008 financial crisis was hard to predict, but when it hit, those who could offer smaller-scale services in construction were able to move forward with consumers with less spending power. If a business specialising in building houses and annexes, and fitting conservatories and extensions is also able to offer a smaller-scale service, such as conservatory roof replacement only, their wider customer base will serve them well when things change.

Essentially, if all of your eggs are in one basket, you’ll struggle when times get tough for your customers — especially if they are expensive eggs in that basket!

What Are Your Goals?

Again, before going on a trend hunt, ask yourself what the purpose of such a trend hunt would be. Why are you looking to spot trends, and what do you wish to achieve?

Are you looking to expand into new products and services? Can you afford to do this? Or are you simply looking to broaden your target audience? Something as simple as discovering how your target market can spend more with you or how you can expand that target audience in order to find a similar profit is absolutely vital.

Establish your goals early on, be clear, and be honest with yourself. Scattergun approaches are ineffective. Targeted approaches require more work but are more beneficial in the end.

Harness the Power of Big Data

We live in a world where everything is recorded. We are interconnected beyond belief, and consumer movements are trackable, anaylse-able, and above all useful. Even if your company is small, you will have data that can be used to better understand the trends that are on the cusp of taking hold.

If you have a website, social media accounts, bank accounts or any means of tracking activity, you can collect data on user experience, web traffic, engagement, and plenty more. All companies, large and small, need a strategy for big data and a plan for how best to collect and use it — as well as protecting that data. If you have data, you can always use it to improve what you’re offering.

If your business is big data, and you’re looking at trends in this area, the name of the game is predicting what new forms of trackable data have the biggest potential for profit.

If You’re a Small Business, Your Size Is Your Strength

Always stay positive about your prospects. If your competition is significantly bigger than you — whether that’s by turnover, national reach, staff base, or customer base — it’s easy to feel daunted. How can the little guys in retail compete with the likes of Amazon?

You should treat your smaller stature as providing opportunity. Just because another business may have more resources than you does not mean they can move with the times as quickly as you can. If the customers that buy your products or services are big and not so nimble, if you can provide security, a smaller logistics path, or even something as down-to-earth as more responsive and reactive customer service, you can be in a far better position to provide the more preferred option.

Be Your Own Target Market

In order to be a great trend-spotter, you need to know everything you can know about your target audience. You should be watching what they watch, reading what they read, doing what they do. What do your customers value? What are they averse to?

You should always ask searching, analytic questions about the potential problems your target audience is experiencing. What do customers like about your competitors? What are the competitors weaknesses from the customer’s point of view?

You can only get good timing or spot a particular need that is not met by the current offering in your industry by being as well-attuned to your customer base as possible. If you are living like your customer base, you will know how to inspire the change that is needed in your industry — because you will naturally want that end goal.

If you become your audience, you know the deep attachments to certain products or services, and you know what would turn people off. If you know what turns people off, you’re in a better position to know whether the potential next big thing has any staying power.

Communication Is Key

Finally, you need to talk to your target market. This is easier when you’re just starting out, or of you own a smaller business. You can talk to a higher percentage of your customers than would be possible if you cater to a wider audience.

Big data is important, but qualitative data directly from the source can trigger a new idea, or an exciting new service or product. If you provide a personal service, use that to your advantage. Never underestimate the importance of dialogue, and be as open and eager to talk with your customers as you can afford to be.

Nobody spots a trend with their eyes closed. Nor do they spot a trend with their mouth shut.

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