One of the most wonderful things about owning a small business is that you can look to the future, see a trend and take off in new directions. . . quickly. Most trends start with a “weak signal” like Ohio autumns start with foggy mornings in early fall – a weak signal that the weather is changing. 

That being said, often business owners get buried in the day-to-day activities and miss the “weak signals” of change that are always around.  These signals are not only weak but can be ambiguous and deceptive, needing deciphering.  To catch them, you must be in the competitive arena. 

When feeling stale or out of touch, try these simple tricks and you may find the next great trend for your business:

  • Look to your employees to keep a finger on the pulse of change – especially those that interface regularly with the customers. 
  • Ask what customers are complaining about;
  • Ask what are customers happy about and not just in your business;
  • Ask what customers are worried about locally and what they are excited about for the world at large!
  • Go to an Economic lecture.  Not sure where?  Ask your local chamber of commerce or university for upcoming events.
  • If you are in a Service Club (etc.  Rotary, NABWO, Lions), attend a different meeting in a different location.
  • If you participate in a networking organization, attend a difference branch or chapter and be outgoing.
  • If you participate in a house of worship, go to a different service and talk to people.

The beauty of small business is that often we can capture a new idea or trend from just simply asking people “what’s happening” and we can implement with ease and flexibility where a large competitor usually can’t.

The weak signals are there – we just have to get to a place where we can listen.