How To Spot Trends And Grow Your Business

A lot of famous entrepreneurs' success in today's fast-paced business environment can be attributed to a focus on spotting trends. 

WeWork's Adam Neumann was able to capitalize on a spike in new startups looking for low-cost and high-quality workspaces; Vlad Tenev of Robinhood saw the need for younger generations to have access to affordable investment options.  

So how can you keep up in our fast-paced world? 

The more in tune you are with what's going on in the world around you, the better your chances of pinpointing an issue people face that needs solving. And as an entrepreneur, meeting the needs of others is your bread and butter. But it can also be easy to get lost in your own world of running and growing your business. 

This is why it is vital to put a system in place to help you stay connected to both big-picture news and more niche industry developments that could impact your business.

You don't have to do it all yourself, however.

Use these tips to spot trends early while avoiding being inundated by a wall of noisy news that isn't relevant to you, your business, or your customers. 

Why Does Trendspotting Matter for Your Business? 

Trendspotting is a crucial part of any business, as it allows them to stay ahead of the competition. Companies can create a competitive advantage by identifying trends early on before their competitors do.

Additionally, trendspotting can help businesses predict customer behavior and preferences. By being proactive in identifying trends, they can ensure that they provide the best possible products and services to their customers. 

How to Get Better at Trendspotting (and Grow Your Business) 

Okay, we’ve established that trendspotting is important for the growth goals of your business. Let’s take a look at how you can get better at it.

Follow Relevant Media Outlets and Influencers 

According to a study by Collective Bias, 70 percent of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers when they make buying decisions.

This means that a majority of people are staying connected through everyday influencers. Take a moment to research who the top influencers are in relevant niche markets and follow them on social media, or make a note to check in periodically with the content they are producing.  

This will help you remain connected in the industry, help you better understand what is happening in communities related to your business, and allow you to participate in meaningful conversations. 

Here are some good examples: 

  • General-interest news outlets
  • Trade publications
  • Blogs 
  • Governmental reports 
  • Even casual conversations overheard in a coffee shop 

Be especially alert for problems you notice people are talking about regularly – solving problems is the bread and butter of entrepreneurs! 

How to find the most relevant influencers and media outlets in your industry: 

The easiest way to find influencers is the same way you would find anything else. Search! Search by keyword or topic and use a critical eye when assessing the results. Not all sources of information are created equal.

Similarly, find relevant hashtags and see which individuals and brands are using them on social media. Again, review the results with a critical eye. A single tagged insta story an authoritative influencer does not make.

If you feel that you have exhausted your internet searches ask people in your network. Peers, colleagues, or anyone else you may have a dialogue with can point you in the direction of people they may already follow as industry influencers.

Don't stop there however. Tap the people in your network for trendspotting advice. Talk to these individuals and get their advice on what trends to watch for in your industry and what strategies will be most successful.

As always, the best source of information regarding what your customers want are the customers themselves! Ask your customers and clients for recommendations to help get a bead on upcoming trends and their changing preferences.

It can be challenging to know where to turn for advice when starting a new business. But the best way to find success is by listening to your customers and clients. Ask them what they think are the trends in your industry, what products or services they've found most useful in the past, and whether they have any recommendations for you.

This information will help you stay ahead of the competition and ensure that your business continues to grow. 

Conduct Market Research 

Like it or not, due diligence is a fact of life for every entrepreneur. If you have the means and some funding at your disposal, market research can be a valuable asset for better understanding your target market.

It can also help you keep up with your competitors, analyze market trends, learn more about your customers’ buying habits, and much more. It's no wonder that market research has an annual aggregate budget of nearly $75B in the US.

Think outside the box. Market research doesn't have to be expensive to be effective. 

Tips for conducting market research:

Get a good idea of what you want to find out before starting your research.
It can be hard to know where to start when looking for information. You might have a general idea of what you want to find out, like whether your product will be something your clients want, but you'll need to understand specifically what metrics you'll be using to help you decide whether the market research you're about to conduct will be successful and helpful.

This way, you'll be able to narrow down your search and focus on the most relevant questions you need answers to. 

Look for statements that help you better understand the pain points of the people you are talking to. Your customer avatar can be helpful here, and if you don’t already have one, use the information you collect to create a customer avatar.

Be flexible and use a variety of sources to gather information.
When it comes to staying ahead of the curve, it is important to use a variety of sources. Try any one method or a mix of methods you feel would be best for getting the information you need, including online surveys, focus groups, and interviews with key market players. This data is sometimes referred to as the voice of the customer, or VOC data.

Try to get a broad perspective on the market before making decisions.
It can be tempting to stick with what we know and make decisions based on our personal experiences or those of friends or colleagues. But it's essential to try to get a broader perspective. 

Anticipate Change 

This is perhaps the most valuable point on this list – and for good reason. Entrepreneurs should always assume that the only constant is change. Change is one of the primary drivers of entrepreneurial opportunity.

As it becomes apparent that changes are on the horizon (or even right around the corner), switch your perspective from one that is reactive to one that is proactive.

Instead of thinking about how change will be an obstacle or create friction for your business, think about ways your business can harness the power of change.

What opportunities does this change present?

Is it something for which I have tools to put to good use?

Is this something that will fizzle out, or is a change like this here to stay?

Reframing change as a business resource instead of a business threat puts you in the right headspace to spot and capitalize on emerging trends much faster and more effectively than your competitors.

How to get better at anticipating change: 

  1. Be open to new ideas and be willing to experiment.

  2. Be prepared to pivot your strategy when necessary.

  3. Stay focused on the long-term goals and objectives of your business.

  4. Be patient and allow your business to grow at its own pace.

  5. Stay disciplined and maintain a consistent approach to marketing and branding. 

Understand Your Customers 

To stay ahead of the curve, you need to understand your customers. What are their buying habits? What do they value? Where do they see the future of your industry?

Granted, your average customer may not have any unique insight into your business by virtue of being an outsider but sometimes that outsider perspective can produce unique insight.

By understanding your customers, you can create products and services that are relevant and valuable to them - one of the fundamental building blocks of any business.

How to better understand your customers:

Always be available to answer any questions your customers have.
To get feedback, you'll need to make it as easy as possible for customers to contact you.

You don't need to be available 24/7, but you should have methods for receiving feedback, comments, and questions at any time.

Listen carefully to what your customers are saying and take their feedback seriously.
Create systems that collect customer feedback and make it available for review in the future. You don't need to obsess over it, but make a point of reviewing customer feedback on a regular basis.

Make everything easy for your customers.
In addition to the age-old advice that you should make it as easy as possible for customers to complete a purchase, that advice shouldn't end when a customer takes out their wallet. Look critically at your customer experience and look for friction points. Whatever it takes to make that process easier from start to finish should be on your radar.

Be patient.
It takes time to build relationships with your customers, but the payoff will be worth it!

Be Flexible and Adaptable 

As with anything else in business, it's important to be flexible and adaptable. If something doesn't work for one customer segment, it might work for another. Or maybe a different approach is necessary to capture the attention of a new customer segment.

Tips to become better at being flexible and adaptable.

Be open to trying new things. Even if at first you think they might not work. Embracing a "fail fast" mentality means embracing a policy of trying new things, understanding as quickly as possible what works and what doesn't, and innovating as fast as possible.

Be willing to change your approach. Collecting feedback from your customers isn't just busy work. Be ready (and willing) to act based on what you've learned from your customers.

The Bottom Line 

Spotting trends to capitalize on takes more than a crystal ball. It takes listening to your customers and adapting quickly to what they want. But with a bit of effort, you can stay ahead of the competition and ensure that your business grows steadily. 

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