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The marketplace and the economy, regulations and competition, galloping technology--you're sailing your small business boat on an ocean full of sharks. But the biggest and badest shark is the marketplace.
The marketplace can put the wind at your back or it can rip your sails apart. The marketplace can change directions with the slightest breeze. Fads and fashions come and go, but longer term marketplace trends give you more time for success.
Some marketplace trends are more stable than others. They last longer. While last year's phone can suddenly appear dated, other trends take years to develop, peak, and decline.
Example: Doris saw a business opportunity long before others did. Many years ago, she noticed that people were increasingly concerned with the foods they ate. She investigated the beginnings of a market for healthy foods, and she decided to take the plunge. She established a small health foods store, carrying natural and organic foods. As the market caught up with her, she added gluten-free, lactose-free, sugar-free and other specialties. She offered foods imported from Europe where they seemed to be ahead of this market curve. Her customer stream was thin in the beginning, but her regulars spread the word for Doris. When she added non-GMO foods, she held an open house and brought in a nutritionist to explain and answer questions. Today, Doris promotes her operation on social media and regularly schedules talks at the store.
Example: Tom was interested in farming. Not the traditional farming like his father pursued, but the newer technology of hydroponics. When his father died, Tom inherited the family farm, sold it, and bought the empty building that once housed a factory on the edge of town. Here, Tom began installing hydroponic equipment and set up his beginning farming operation on the first floor of the building. Today, he grows many types of green leafy vegetables including a dozen different lettuces. He is adding tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers on the second floor. In the basement, he has a mushroom operation underway. His farming operation is immune to changes in the weather.
Examples of marketplace trends are everywhere around you. Some are short-term while others are longer-term.
If you are starting out, catch the longer-term wave and ride it to success. If you are already in business, use the short-term trends to increase your customer/client base and grow your operation. Either way, you are exploiting trends in the marketplace.
The marketplace is made up of customers and clients, a restless bunch. They are always on the move. Keep up with them. Better yet, get ahead of the curve.