Friday, April 25, 2014

Future markets

     Free daily advice for people in small business
     from someone who has been there, done that.

     Today's world is very different from yesterday's. And tomorrow's will be even more unrecognizable.

     A degree of certainty is required for business to survive, much less thrive. Right now, your small business is caught up in a juggernaut of change.

     Think of what's happening with energy. We are caught up in a big debate on energy sources, and who knows where it's leading us.

     You and your customers depend on electricity. Without electricity, your computer will go dark. Without electricity, banks and supermarkets will close. You won't be able to drive your vehicle (gasoline stations close), you won't be able to cook meals or wash clothes (most appliances stop running), reaching out by telephone will be iffy (then your batteries run out). And your customers will be in the same fix.

     Viable alternative sources of energy are still largely out in the future. Hydroelectric and nuclear plants are producing significant streams of electricity right now. So are solar farms and wind turbines--to a more limited extent, considering the need. Coal is being banned. 

     Where will tomorrow's energy come from? Like it or not, we are still in an age of oil and gas. And we will be for the foreseeable future. As coal is phased out, electricity generating plants are using more and more oil and gas. Luckily, this country has more proven reserves of oil and gas than all of the Middle East combined. 

     So where does all this leave you and your small business? Well, if I were still in business (I'm retired now), I would be giving a couple of thoughts to the problem. How will I stay in business and serve my customers if the electric grid goes into frequent brownouts, or worse, crashes for a month or two? 

     Other uncertainties will affect your business in the future. As a nation, we are in a big debate on health care. Is the future in small, privately run health clinics or in big government bureaucracies? Or is another system of health care on the horizon?

     Another: Genetically modified foods now pervade the food chain. A reaction to GMOs is afoot--cities and some states are insisting that GMO foods be so labelled. The concern revolves around the effects of these foods on human health--and there are good reasons to be concerned.

     Still another: 3-D printing technology is right now producing devices that will forever change manufacturing. Will small machine shops and tool makers go the way of the hot lead typesetters of the past? 3-D printing companies are already making parts for the automotive industry, aerospace, health care, home and personal products--including jewelry, lighting fixtures, shoe wear and more. All these and other items are now being manufactured in plastics and metals.

     As owners of small businesses, we tend to think about today's problems. But it's a good thing to consider where we're headed. The future is not knowable, but trends tend to continue. Thinking about these trends will help you structure your business to survive--and prosper. Or, maybe, get into a new line of business altogether. 

     Questions? Email me direct at and put BLOG in the subject line.
     I am retired and I am not selling anything. Your privacy is always respected.  

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