How to Look for New Business Opportunities

Are you a trend spotter? Someone who instinctively knows what’s in before it becomes mainstream? For most people, it’s a gift that doesn’t come naturally. For a small business owner, it’s a skill that could mean the difference between thriving for years to come or being slowly phased out.

Fortunately, there are ways to hone your trend-spotting skills and find new ways your business can succeed in a changing world. Here are six tips that can help.

Make Downtime Reading Time

Successful business owners agree that there’s a direct correlation between reading and trend spotting. Use the Internet to keep up with your industry by reading trade blogs, studies and white papers. Subscribe to magazines specific to your business, and devote thirty to sixty minutes a day to keeping up. A lot of this can be done over morning coffee or before bedtime.

Widen Your Radar

It’s good to know your industry like the back of your hand, but trends don’t always start there. Step back and take an arm’s length view of what’s happening around you. Pay close attention to technology, the driver of many trends, and see what’snew. Ten years ago, small businesses that embraced social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are now thriving by using these mediums. Many of those that dismissed them are still struggling to keep up.

Seek Out Others Who Can Help

Don’t let the fact that you’re running a business convince you that you can coast on your success. And never get so myopic that you feel like you can’t still learn from other successful entrepreneurs. Go to trade shows and industry events where the brightest minds congregate and many new trends begin. Open up to ideas from the next generation. The next Steve Jobs is out there, and you may just cross his or her path.

Go Back to College

Not literally, unless you’re thinking of finishing a degree or getting an MBA, but to see and hear where the next generation of bright minds are heading. The recent explosion in gaming as entertainment has created an entirely new industry virtually over night. And social media continues to evolve as an industry businesses rely on to build brands, sell products and increase customer bases. Both of these industries gained a foothold in colleges and universities.

Be Your Own Toughest Competitor

How would you run your business out of business? It’s a question your competitors consider every day and one you should continually think about. Knowing the answer could lead you to new and better trend-setting methods to stay competitive. Think about the newspaper industry and how it’s virtually disappeared in the shadows of online delivery. Few in the industry saw it coming but might have if they’d thought it through.

Never Say Never

Perhaps you’ve heard of Silly Putty? While you may know it as a kid’s toy, it was originally considered a failed attempt to invent a wartime rubber substitute in 1943. Instead of scrapping the idea, however, forward-thinking entrepreneurs marketed it as a novelty that eventually became one of the fastest selling toys of all time. Is the next Silly Putty something you abandoned as unsuccessful? Revisit your failures and you might be surprised.

New trends are occurring everywhere. You just have to look harder sometimes to find them and capitalize on them, but the payoff is worth the effort.

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