The future is a mystery. One way to guess out what the future might bring is to look at the past and the present. Keep asking “Why?” and you might get to a useful trend. Then your challenge is to position your business ‘on-trend’.
Give it a wide berth and factor in the ‘X’ factor. Anything is possible. The world is more unstable these days that at most times in recent history. Managing your SME through volatility is essential.
If your business is doing well, at the moment, you will be happy and optimistic. But all markets are prone to booms and busts. Just look at real estate or the stock market. So you must position yourself for a shock or a downturn. Make your business ‘anti-fragile’ by exposing only part of it to large downside risk. Keep the rest of your business in a low-risk position. A new government policy or change in the tax regulations could have a significant impact on your business. These are factors that you cannot control. Focus on what you can control in your business. Identifying trends is one way to keep your medium-term business on track. Here are some trends to be aware of in 2019.
The world of business is going digital, fast. Finding trends in technology that will help your business are probably the most important trends to look at. If you hit the crest of a technology wave, like Airbnb or WhatsApp, then you will be made for business life. This doesn’t have to be like finding a needle in a haystack. Digitalisation affects your business and your home. If you are thinking up new small business ideas around e-commerce, then you should be looking at shopping apps and online shopping websites. These will generate income for you without high fixed costs or labour intensive input.
Most of the world’s business involves something to do with China or America or both. The recent trade tariffs war between two world superpowers may have directly or indirectly affected your business or your stakeholders’ businesses. Brexit is another case in point. The resulting uncertainty affects your business. Prices, exchange rates, taxes and much more are affected by democratic forces out with your control. Hedging or diversifying, by changing your business into a low-risk position, is one way to mitigate these fluctuations but who gets everything right all the time?
All the economic growth is in Asia. Look micro, not macro. The Philippines has had the fastest economic growth of most ASEAN countries in the last few years. Rising service standards and the better rule of law together with increased entrepreneurship and a stable currency. Malaysia stands at the dawn of a new era with a new government committed to anti-corruption. Digging beneath the surface new business opportunities and small business ideas should surface above these emerging regional trends. Importing into the Philippines and anti-corruption consulting in Malaysia are just two opportunities.
To disrupt or not to disrupt. Echoes of Shakespeare can continue with to be disrupted or to self-disrupt. Disruption in any form is a trend, not just a buzzword, for 2019 and the rest of our working lives. Technology is the key driver of digital disruption. Whatever business you are in, in the next 3-5 years you are going to face disruption by AI, IoT, blockchain, big data and 3D printing.
Knowing how to respond effectively to changing trends depends on you and your leadership. Being aware of how to respond effectively to the current and future situations your business is facing can be assisted by life-long-learning. Learning new, relevant skills all the time is important especially in a new digital era. If your business is being digitized, then you’ll be faced not only with new technology but also lots of data generated by this. Learning how to manage Big Data will be key to your business. Don’t forget that work-life balance and learning how to de-stress at work should be part of your business education too.
Staying current and staying relevant is a must for SMEs. Otherwise, trends will leave you behind. Generating new business ideas is not always easy, so look at the trends for inspiration and guidance. Identifying trends like digitalisation will point you in the direction of business opportunities.