MiniTrends: A Book Review, Part III

In Part I we began our discussion and review of Minitrends: How Innovators & Entrepreneurs Discover & Profit from Business & Technology Trends, including the seven strategies that can also be used to spot minitrends, because minitrends, which are often the leading indicators of emerging megatrends, can be very vaulable to their discoverer in the short term and, sometimes, provide the foundations for new billion dollar enterprises. In Part II, we continued our discussion of minitrends by identifying useful sources of information that you can use to begin your search for minitrends and presented three types of minitrends that are emerging now.

Today, in this third and final part, we will discuss how you select a minitrend for exploitation, develop a minitrend exploitation scheme, and put the scheme into action. Because, to profit from a minitrend, you must determine the ones that are most attractive, develop a plan for taking full advantage of them, and execute that plan effectively.

In order to select a minitrend for exploitation, you must examine the attractiveness of the minitrend to the business community and to you personally. The best minitrend will be one that is very attractive to both the business community, whom you need to buy the product or service you eventually offer, and to you, as a lot of work will be required before you recognize your first sale of a new product or service.

In order to determine the attractiveness of a minitrend to the business community, you must:

  • define the exact nature of the minitrend
    as you need to be able to define an appropriate product or service
  • define the special attractiveness of the minitrend
    as you need to define what will make the market want to buy
  • analyze the size and nature of potential markets
    as the market must be big enough to create a sustainable business in
    the short term
  • consider where the minitrend is in the emergence process
    as you cannot be too early or too late to market
  • examine the potential implications of external factors
    so that you can identify a shift before it is too late

Once you have identified the minitrends attractive to the market, you must then identify the minitrends attractive to you (or to your company). This will depend on your own enthusiasm, interest, and capability, and may require a bit of soul searching if multiple minitrends look equally attractive.

Once you have selected a minitrend for exploitation, the next thing you need to do is create a plan to exploit it. The process you start with is similar to the process of creating a business plan, which usually goes something like:

  • define your current situation
  • decide where you want to be at some future time
  • determine how you are going to get from the current situation to some future situation

but the difference is that you are not necessarily going after an established market, but an emerging market being established by a minitrend that is still taking shape. As a result, you need to build your exploitation scheme to account for a number of different scenarios. There is the base scenario, the target scenario, and a number of plausible divergent scenarios that would require you to take significantly different actions in the development of an attractive product or service.

Once the most likely scenarios have been identified, the necessary tasks for achieving success are identified, along with the individuals who will need to perform the tasks, you need to (re) define the success characteristics and keep an eye on the market. If the minitrend manifests in a way that does not match the base scenario, but matches one of the divergent scenarios, you need to alter your exploitation plans. And if the minitrend diverges in a way that does not match any of your scenarios, you need to figure out if the new scenario is one that you can effectively serve or if you have to abandon the minitrend in favor of your runner up.

You also need to identify the expected changes to the minitrend after you launch your product or service, and be sure that your plan changes accordingly. Then, when you are ready, you have to launch your product or service, convince potential customers of the value of the minitrend and your manner of addressing it, look for opportunities to take advantage of convergences, and engage your supporters. If you stay flexible, stay healthy, and remember that there are other smart people in the world, and take advantage of their knowledge, chances are that you will succeed.

So what do I think of Minitrends: How Innovators & Entrepreneurs Discover & Profit from Business & Technology Trends by John H. Vanston and Carrie Vanston? I think it’s a good book that’s definitely worth reading by anyone who wants to understand where things are going and what they have to do to get there. While it doesn’t spell out definitive actions that you can take to improve your Supply Chain, IT Department, or Strategic Planning Division, it does introduce you to a mindset that will help you unleash your creativity and perceptiveness, which will help you spot more trends and make better decisions down the road. And that alone makes the book worth it.