What do the stock market, the grocery, the dentist, a copper mine, and the janitorial service have in common?
I can’t imagine a more dissimilar group of business descriptions but they all are subject to the whims of the marketplace. The value of each product or service is subject to trends and fads created by events and market forces far removed from the actual effort involved in production or fulfillment.
Market knowledge, intuition, powers of observation, and timing are crucial to the success of every person who presents a product or service to their marketplace. Being able to observe a change in “needs, " “wants, " and buying habits will allow astute businesses to position themselves to best take advantage of those changes.
Some fads are like comets that glow brilliantly for a very short time. The wide price swings in commodity markets like copper and the popularity swings of novelties are daunting. The Pet Rock was a huge winner for three months. Those who got on that product early and promoted it effectively sold zillions but, if they didn’t control their inventory well and buy cautiously, they couldn’t give those rocks away when the fad died.
Trends ramp up slowly, then become staples in their industries like cosmetic dentistry, “green" cleaning, or organic foods. Becoming a specialist in these fields and properly promoting them will require a sustained effort that will probably pay off for a long time. A real estate salesperson told me recently that you can date the age of a house, or when it was remodeled, just by looking at the tile in the bathroom. Home decorating fads and trends in popular color combinations go in and out of style slowly and, because of the longevity of the products, last a long time. How many people have “harvest gold and avocado" kitchen appliances from the 1960’s and how many are sold these days?
When you are hot (or have something that becomes hot) droves will be clamoring for whatever you are selling, but when you are not hot you have to change directions and minimize risk while waiting and searching for the next hot thing.
Larry Galler coaches and consults with high-performance executives, professionals, and small businesses since 1993. He is the writer of the long-running (every Sunday since November 2001) business column, “Front Lines with Larry Galler" For a free coaching session, email Larry for an appointment - Larry@larrygaller.com . Sign up for his free newsletter at http://www.larrygaller.com