Taste, Trends, and Technology: How Will the Future Affect Your Business?

Let’s assume you have a good description of your proposed business, and the business is an extension of something you like and know how to do well. Perhaps you have been a chef for ten years and have always dreamed of opening your own restaurant. So far, so good—but you aren’t home free yet. There is another fundamental question that needs answering: Does the world need, and is it willing to pay for, the product or service you want to sell? For example, do the people in the small town where you live really want an Indonesian restaurant? If your answer is “Yes” because times are good and people have extra money.


People’s tastes drive many of the changes our society speeds through. For example, in the 1970s, many of us changed our taste in automobiles from large gas guzzlers to small, well-built cars. American manufacturers didn’t recognize this change in taste until they almost went broke. What does this mean to you? Look at your business idea again. How does it fit with today’s tastes? Is your business idea part of a six-month fad? If so, you are likely to go broke no matter how good a manager you are and how much you love your business.


It’s one thing to understand that people’s tastes have changed and will undoubtedly change again and again, but it’s a lot harder to accurately predict what will be popular in a few years. I wish there were a central source of information about predicting future trends in any field, but there isn’t. You have the task of looking into the future and deciding where it is going and how that affects what you do today. Fortunately, a little research can do wonders. Here are some tips on how to proceed. Read everything you can about your field of interest.


Technology is your innovative kitchen appliance, your home computer, NASA’s new spacecraft, and even the proverbial better mousetrap. For example, lots and lots of people are working feverishly to come up with better video games, laser toothbrushes, wristwatches, TVs, and the like. Sometimes it takes years to perfect an item. That can be good news for small business owners, as there is plenty of time to prepare to profit. Of course, there is a downside to new technology, too. It often involves high risk. There’s no guarantee of success just because the product is new. In fact, something like 80% of the new ­products introduced into the marketplace die a quick death. Remember HD-DVD players, the Edsel, and eight-track tape players

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