How do you develop innovative strategies that secure your position and success in the market place?
You look at trends, and then ask questions about how those trends, projected into the future, could affect your business.
Many types of trends comprise the landscape, including politics, geography, and the world order, just to name a few. Here are three you might consider.
- Demographics: The next decade promises massive growth of the senior population. And, people are relocating much less than before.
- Technology: Mobile technology, and the blending of multiple technologies for retrieving or disseminating information.
- Society: In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are. (I'm in trouble if for Valentine's Day my wife signs me up for eharmony.com.)
Those are just three categories of trends. And I've identified only one or two trends in each category. But you get the idea. You have to determine which trends affect your business.
After looking at a trend, you ask 4 questions: 1) What affect will this have on the products and services I produce? 2) What affect will it have on how I deliver those products and services? 3) What products and services should I develop for the future? 4) What markets should I target?
Let's look at two examples.
Large, international company: After looking at many global trends, an international company is introducing a new product this year. It's been in the works for several years, and they've invested millions of dollars in this product. It's a bold move in an innovative strategy, and they realize the risks involved.
But the global landscape, and the changing trends that will influence that landscape, require a bold move if they want to maintain the top position in a very competitive industry.
Small Business: My friend Tom Falco is in the residential construction industry. He scanned the industry landscape, and saw that people aren't buying new houses because they can't sell their existing homes because of falling home prices.
Or they don't have money to buy a new house. Others, because of the shaky, uncertain economy, don't feel comfortable taking the risk of buying a new house. Regardless of why, they're not buying new homes. That's the trend.
So Tom asked himself, "What can I do to get more business?" He decided to focus on home improvement, and found that people who can't move at least want to improve the house they're in.
Tom now focuses on remodeling existing houses—installing new windows, putting that new roof on, or building a new addition, of finishing that basement. It's not the same as building new houses, but it will do until the industry picks up.
Look at trends and then ask the right questions. What trends are you looking at? What innovative strategies will you use to take advantage of those trends?