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Watching Trends

FastTrac, Kauffman Foundation

Success as an entrepreneur is related to your ability to spot trends. The long-term staying power of trends distinguishes them from fads, which are of much shorter duration. The secret of this technique is watching the media, the Internet, and professional journals for recurring themes and emerging behaviors. Attending trade shows is another way to keep abreast of trends in an industry. Simple activities such as scanning junk mail for clues about new products and noting the best-selling nonfiction books may provide information on trends you can develop into opportunities.

Look for trends through these resources:

  • Trade and industry associations - Review trade and industry information and join associations and conventions that serve your industry.
  • Other entrepreneurs - Having already taken the entrepreneurial leap themselves, these individuals have proven their ability to identify business opportunities and are typically very alert to industry changes and marketplace needs.
  • Vendors and suppliers - Through their close work with customers, vendors and suppliers become a valuable resource for information about new products and services as well as customers' unmet needs.
  • Entrepreneur's infrastructure (accountants, lawyers, bankers) - These professionals can provide valuable information about changes or the latest trends affecting their industries and the marketplace.
  • Various governmental agencies - The government has a host of agencies whose mission is to collect and report information on the economy and society. Others provide valuable assistance to entrepreneurs launching and growing businesses.
  • Professors and business librarians - These professionals stay current in their specific fields and often have in-depth knowledge of trends and problems in their area of study.

Some recent market trends that affect businesses include emerging technology, outsourcing, working at home, time scarcity, shifting interest in sports, and obesity.

Your personal network can be another vital source of industry information. If you maintain good relationships with people throughout the business community, they may lead you to market opportunities you might not find on your own.

© 2007 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. All rights reserved.

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