Entrepreneur Magazine has published a comprehensive list of 2006 trends forecasts and what they call hot businesses. It has a lot of great information in it.
Oh, the list is not perfect. It suffers from being too long and is not as tight as it should be. Certain trends it identifies are out there on the fringe (trailer parks become an “in” thing?). Some of the ideas are not really new (the travel trends are rehashed information from last year).
Also, it’s almost as if every tech buzzword and consumer fad has been added to the list, regardless of how relevant. Yes, we know that RFID, nanotechnology, biometrics and robots get media play as intriguing technologies. But aside from being of interest to a relatively small number of tech startups, none of those technologies is particularly relevant to the mainstream of small businesses nor will they be in 2006.
Still, even with all these drawbacks, the list has a lot of useful information that small businesses need to know for operating their businesses or to identify new opportunities to capitalize on. Here are the highlights of the trends that seem to be particularly relevant to a broad range of small businesses and entrepreneurs:
- Niche food businesses. Tea, especially healthful green and white teas, are big, and “the $6.8 billion tea industry is one of the strongest beverage markets, on track to reach $10 billion by 2010.” Online speciality foods retail is growing – our taste buds are becoming more specialized, and increasingly we turn to the Internet to find specialty food items. Chocolate, of course, continues to grow in popularity, and food or restaurant ideas that focus on chocolate are expected to be big. And one-food restaurants — such as restaurants for soups only — are expected to grow in popularity.
- Security businesses. There is keen emphasis on keeping our businesses safe online or off in 2006, with key areas being shredding services, identity theft prevention and recovery services, hosted computer security, data backup, and surveillance cameras.
- Digital device add-on services and accessories. It took the United States a few years to catch up with the rest of the world, but now we are gaga over wireless devices such as cell phones. There are 180 million wireless customers in the U.S. But people don’t have to settle for a plain old white iPod when there are enterprising entrepreneurs who will skin it any color you want.
- B2B services. Technology consulting services, staffing services to handle the shortage of qualified candidates, and technology recycling services are key.
- New opportunities for small businesses. Experiential travel, services for eBay sellers, patient advocacy businesses, and niche fitness businesses are all on the hot list of businesses.