5 Trends Your Business Must Jump On Before 2014

From 3-D printing to using scent in a marketing campaigns, it's time to seriously consider these 5 game-changing trends
Author, Profit First
November 21, 2013

As an entrepreneur, you get to captain your own ship. You chart the course and are responsible for favorably positioning your company with regard to trends and developing technology. Fortune favors the savvy and strategic early adopters of trends with sticking power, and situating yourself as a trailblazer can position your company as the firm that other companies look to imitate. The key is finding those trends that will persist, rather than becoming a slave to fads. What trends should you keep your eye on?

3-D Printing

3-D Printing

 

The technology exists, of course, but the biggest development is that the price of these printers and the materials they use have dropped enough for them to become widely popular. Think about flat panel televisions: Fifteen years ago they cost well into the thousands of dollars; today you can get an excellent one for a few hundred—in fact, you can’t get anything except flat screens today.

3-D printers will become affordable in a shorter period of time than you can imagine, and they’re going to revolutionize domestic manufacturing. Whether you manufacture goods or not, these printers and the local manufacturers they will create will significantly reduce the cost of items and components that we all rely on for daily business. The ascendency of 3-D printers is inevitable and right around the corner. Find a way to leverage this technology to improve your bottom line, whether it’s as a novelty marketing campaign or a bottom line equipment decision. You want to be at the forefront of this trend.

Hyper-Upgrading 

New versions of operating systems and software upgrades are available practically every time you power up a phone, tablet or desktop. An update that remedies crashes and fixes bugs isn’t a problem, but when the update requires that users learn a new system or even a slightly "better" way of doing things, business owners can find it challenging to keep all their staff current without losing productivity. In fact, what happens is that an OS can change before users have even had time to master the old one.

Here’s the opportunity: Providing or using incremental training that’s designed to provide short sessions that flexibly address specific needs. Think brief, infinitely customizable quickie training sessions that bring users up to speed on the features of a new operating system or version of essential software without devoting days of training for a program that will look significantly different a year from now. We need to become as agile and adaptable as the systems we employ to enhance our productivity.

Scent Technology

No, this tech isn’t in the distant future. It’s around the corner. Here’s your science lesson for the day that explains why this technology has become such a hot priority: The part of the brain that processes smell (your olfactory bulb) is located within the part of the brain that processes emotion and stores memory.

Smell is intimately tied to memory and closely linked with your emotions, and that makes scent technology perhaps the most powerful tool in the history of marketing. It won’t be long before you see personal computers with the capability to receive scent files and transmit those smells to users. Movies, advertising, proposals ... scent will become an integral part of digital media, and early adopters will help revolutionize the uses of this innovative technology.

National Heritage And Culture

This trend is already well underway, but there’s still time to make the most of it. The global marketplace doesn’t erase cultural differences; it offers you the opportunity to capitalize on your culture as part of what you export to the world. Think about the way that reggae infuses Jamaica’s exports. Jamaica’s cultural export is a laid-back, cool vibe that moves to island rhythms, and that reggae culture is part of the way Jamaican coffee, tourism and rum is marketed. American culture is appealing and can be a point of difference that sets you apart from international competitors.

Transparency

Businesses have found that consumers value transparency, and it can be beneficial to disclose the ugly side of your company—as you strive to do better, of course. Adidas, for example, launched a new line of clothing made with DryDye technology, which saves 25 liters of water per t-shirt. It simultaneously highlights the enormous environmental impact of traditionally dyed clothing while announcing its commitment to find dye methods that are greener. Transparency creates trust, and you want your customers to trust you.

The idea here is to look forward, to anticipate which trends can benefit your business and adopt them as early as is feasible. Positioning your company as the trendsetter, the early adopter, creates a niche for you and puts you in the position of the company people look to as the leader in your category.

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Photos: iStockphoto, Getty Images

Author, Profit First