Finding business opportunities in trends – Source: The Age – Enterprise – Valerie Khoo

14 May

Finding business opportunities in trends – Source: The Age – Enterprise – Valerie Khoo (www.theage.com.au)

‘Often you can get so caught up in the day-today demands of running your business that you may miss some great  opportunities. Specifically, it can be useful to sit back and consider how certain trends may impact your business.’

Last night, at author and marketer Hunter Leonard’s seminar on marketing, he referred to the PESTLE analysis (sometimes
referred to as a PEST analysis). This stands for a “Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal” analysis of the factors that may affect your business – not just in the current climate but also in the future. For example, if you are an accountant and you’ve built your practice based on helping people with a piece of tax legislation that may change in the future, you need a clear plan on how you are going to handle that change if and when it occurs.

Similarly, if you are a publisher of traditional printed books, you would be crazy not to consider the impact of of ebooks, readers and tablets like the Ipad, which are now proliferating that market. It’s not a matter of hunkering down and hoping you will not be hit by this trend. It’s about looking for opportunities in the trends that are going to affect your industry and the way you do business. Leonard gave examples of a brick and paving company which recognised the impact the drought would have on people wanting artificial grass. So they added that to their product mix. After all, they were going to be installing bricks and pavers in their clients’ homes anyway, so why not lay down some artificial turf while they’re at it?

So how can you analyse trends that may impact your business?
1. Take a step back
The first thing you need is an open mind. Just because your industry or business has operated in a particular way for a long
time doesn’t mean that’s always going to be the way of the future. Be open to the idea that your industry may change considerably. And it may change soon!
2. Talk to people from all industries
It’s always useful to talk to people who run different types of business. There can be a tendency to go to industry-specific
networking events but then your perspective is only from one side. When you talk to people in other industries, you’ll gain an
insight into how certain trends affect their specific businesses – but this could shed light on new ways of looking at your own.
3. Look for patterns
Analyse data you have in your business and look for patterns. Are your sales seasonal? Does business boom during the school
holidays? This can help you plan the use of your resources more effectively and also target your marketing campaigns based on certain trends.
4. Look overseas
This is one of my favourite ones. I often look overseas to see what’s going on in my industry. And I’ve gleaned countless ideas
which I’ve subsequently used in my business. You can start with internet research but there’s nothing like visiting another
country and “mystery shopping” at a business that’s a leader in your field.

Ultimately, analysing trends is a vital part of the sustainability of your business. What trends are impacting your business today?

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