Looking Ahead: 3 Future Business Trends

Posted in Industry, Startups

One business trend points to more solar energy competition. Image: sxc.hu.

Reading the news is often about looking for future opportunities. These new trends illustrate the shape of things to come for various industries and company departments. For entrepreneurs who are just starting out, the following trends show some key issues to consider before launching a business.

Renewable Energy Businesses Get More Foreign Competition

The growth of wind farms, solar farms and other alternative energy forms overseas is good for the planet, but tough on small startups in the US. Foreign countries like China provide much more generous subsidies and support for energy businesses. In fact, Nova Scotia in Canada has the most supportive programs for renewable energy businesses in North America!

Forbes recently published an analysis of how much the business of renewable energy has changed and how hard it’s been to compete against traditional energy. Despite this news, there’s no reason to be discouraged. Just realize that managing an energy business requires more patience and resilience to succeed. If you’re willing to work with overseas firms (thanks to the internet and cheap phone calls) you’ve got plenty of opportunities to market products for the alternative energy industry. Alternative energy is thriving despite scandals like the Solyndra government loan scandal. Construction services and clean energy equipment businesses in these areas can profit due to the expected growth.

Consider joining local clean energy groups so you can meet the leaders of the local industry. You never know what kind of deals and information you can learn about from local meetings.

Educate Financial Workers

Financial literacy goes beyond checking online accounts or balancing the checkbook. Smart business owners may not know every financial concept out there, so it’s important to make sure finance/accounting department employees are financially literate. Whether they take webinars or certification courses, a well-educated financial team is worth its weight in gold.

Luckily, there are plenty of cheap or free resources they can use to improve their knowledge. The new financial fraud quiz from Financial Executives International is just one of these tools. This free quiz reviews concepts like fraud triangles (the common components to perpetuate fraud) and provides a good refresher on other business finance issues. With all the recent focus on improving ethics and behavior in financial departments, ongoing financial education and other ethical tools will probably increase in popularity.

Take Free Computer Courses for Work

Free computer science classes from Stanford University are coming next year, which is great news for technical businesses. The Stanford program and others like it, spread specialized computer knowledge to a general audience.

How can startups benefit? Employees who want to learn more about computer science can take the courses and apply what they learned to new products or improving internal processes. Most startups rely on software to improve so many aspects of work that it’s just a matter of time before the class pays off.

Advanced computer classes, which go beyond introducing people to basic programs like Microsoft Word, are usually expensive. Online classes have improved dramatically in content and popularity, so there’s no reason to think that an online course is somehow inferior to traditional classes. Be on the lookout for free computer classes from other colleges and encourage employees to take them.

Positive business news is hard to come by, but these trends are very encouraging. So many outside forces can affect work that it’s easy to overlook trends hidden in news stories. These trends point to the need for small businesses to adapt to future scenarios by embracing foreign partnerships and taking advantage of available resources.

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