Nietzsche once observed that "Morality has remained in good standing for so long only thanks to immorality" and much the same could be said of anything "trendy" in business.

Some of us have gone around the sun enough times to remember when bell bottoms were in style the first time, but, more critically, as an entrepreneur, my advice is simple: trends are trendy, but real success isn't driven by trends.

See, trends have a tendency to create bubbles and those bubbles have the tendency to pop at inappropriate times.  Remember Facebook's IPO?  The DotCom crash of the late nineties?   How about the real estate, and subsequent economic bubble bursting in 2007?  Even the news today is documenting the struggles of the Bitcoin/cryptocurrency bubble.

Guess what?  These examples and thousands of others are always there to distract you as an entrepreneur.  The problem is that bubbles are "sexy" distractions - a lot of people know a little bit about them, so when you mention you're working on it, it still sounds like business.

It isn't, of course; it's a red herring ... but it sounds better than telling someone you were sitting on the back porch watching YouTube videos of your favorite band.

The truth is, trends are distracting you from the core issues in your business.  Most small business owners have never focused enough time in that one area to have ever made enough of a difference in their operations before being distracted ... again.

On the other hand, sometimes these trends cross over directly into your core business - then what?

Let's look at Bitcoin as an example.  As of this writing, there is considerable talk about the benefits of blockchain technology on the one hand, but on the other there's the problem of how a cryptocurrency can be regulated and if such a thing can actually be traded in a merchant exchange.

For a business owner who advises clients on investing, he or she may have to acknowledge the elephant in the room - cryptocurrency - and then determine if it is a business strategy or a distraction.

For a digital marketer to not understand the impact of nearly 2 billion Facebook users would be foolish, but if the year was 2008 instead of 2018, what decision would you make?

Trend or market-changer?

Here's the real issue with trends - determining how they fit into your business model.  Can you leverage your core business to provide value to clients while you address coming fads in your own business?  You can - and here's how:

Leverage the relationships that you have in your industry.  I know, another system, but one that 90% of your competitors won't do and thus, a way to differentiate yourself though your knowledge and rolodex of contacts and information.  This allows you two advantages:  one, you still have access to experts who are handling the trend du jour while helping you to understand it and you are able to be a resource to your own clients one how this particular trend affect them.

On the backside of this is how to monetize those relationships - with affiliates, strategic partnerships, and creating a clear path for how, when the phone rings with a client needing X, you don't have to be an expert in that, you know how to direct that call.  As time goes by, those trends will fall by the wayside or become critical to your business.  The nice part is, they never had to be a distraction to you.

Published on: Feb 5, 2018