Business Trends for a New Decade
As we enter 2011, the sand continues to shift for small and large businesses alike. More than ever, business owners need to watch the trends that capture their customer’s interest as well as their competitor’s. The list below identifies many of the developments that we will continue to see in the coming year.
1. Going Green is Still Going Strong
Businesses that help people and other businesses “go green” are with us for the duration. Any ideas that make a home or business more environmentally friendly are worth pursuing, especially since investors and venture capital firms continue to be interested in the green revolution. Many governments have also stepped in and made funds available to entrepreneurs who develop and implement green technologies.
2. Social Responsibility
Although not a new trend among larger corporations, small privately held companies are beginning to recognize the benefits of being socially active. Companies can engage in programs ranging from the very local to global initiatives. Participating in clean water enterprises, micro-finance opportunities or supporting minority vendors are just some of the ways that corporations establish their reputations as good citizens. Many larger enterprises also influence their suppliers and vendors to participate in the causes that are important to them. To maximize your activities, align yourselves with the social programs that are important to your customers.
3. Senior Assistance, Health and Fitness
Services and products that help seniors live better and longer lives are in great demand. Children coping with aging parents need services related to health care, living arrangements and transportation needs. Additionally, seniors are looking for ways to age slowly, driving up the demand for fitness products and activities. Businesses can plan on supporting the needs of this baby-boomer population for the next 40 years.
4. Animals to Go
According to the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), in-home pet-care is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. today. Not only do people want to find good care for their pets when they travel, but they also want to be able to bring their pets with them when they go. Websites informing people of pet-friendly restaurants, hotels, parks, beaches, etc. are on the rise. From pet clothing to pet spas, people are becoming more invested in their animals than ever before. If your business isn’t pet-friendly, it might be time to make a change. If you are looking to open a new business, animal care could be a good place to start.
5. Customer Connection
Did you receive a survey from the last hotel you stayed in or the online store where you made your last purchase? Getting immediate feedback from your customer is on the upswing. Social media and other technologies have made it easier than ever to stay connected with clients. Companies that monitor their marketplace and its needs are better able to customize their products and services and adjust changing needs. Companies that don’t do the same risk becoming irrelevant. There is also a great need for businesses that help companies with this effort either through strategic planning or application development.
6. Cloud Computing
Many small businesses can now take advantage of the applications that have been available to larger enterprises by moving to web-based applications. This move can reduce the need for in-house IT expertise and the costs associated with constantly maintaining and upgrading hardware and software
7. Eating and Drinking Locally
Suppliers and intermediaries that can support the increasing desire for slow food and local ingredients can participate in this trend to purchase locally grown food and beverages. Food cooperatives and delivery of farm-grown products to homes are on the rise. An example of this trend is the rise in microbreweries, which produce a limited amount of beer that is made and sold in the same place.
8. Nutrition and Fitness
The obsession for new super foods, diet plans, and overall health products is moving forward. Many companies are developing products that track sleep patterns, calories burned, steps taken, and heart rate, to help people monitor their own health. Websites that allow you to count your calories or watch exercise videos are on the rise. One Italian company even allows you to plant your own virtual organic garden; once the vegetables start to grow they ship them to your home. If you know a thing or two about health or have the green thumb for organic products, this ever-growing field might be for you.
9. Employment AssistanceThere are fewer jobs for an increasing number of people. Also, with the employment pool increasing with the influx from emerging economies, college graduates and younger workers are looking for an edge. Businesses that help with resumes, interview preparation or finding the right opportunity are needed.
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