When I speak at events about trends in small business, often I am asked, “How do you spot trends?”
The answer is not simple and it is not short. I employ a large number of techniques for spotting and tracking trends in my daily work. Many of them involve following online sources. I could write an entire book chapter — maybe two — about them all.
Instead, let me point out something that another blogger, George, writes at Fat Pitch Financials. He mentions how he spots trends for stock investing purposes. He writes:
“I am currently addicted to tracking the most popular bookmarked webpages using del.icio.us. “
The Del.icio.us Popular list is one of the methods I too have been using for several months now. From perusing the bookmarks on the Del.icio.us Popular pages, you can see the problems that people are trying to solve. For instance, right now the Popular pages contain several bookmarks related to (1) email triage, and (2) how to keep your Web searches private.
Obviously these are two issues of concern to people. Numerous people care enough about those two problems to bookmark articles about how to solve them. By identifying common problems like these, you start to see patterns that may point out demand for new business products or services. Once you see that people have a common problem they are interested in solving, if you are an enterprising entrepreneur you can identify new business opportunities to meet the demand.
Likewise, you often can see which existing consumer and business products are hot — and which ones are in the doghouse. The Del.icio.us Popular pages give you a constantly evolving picture of what fascinates and intrigues us.
Naturally, the site cannot be your only source of spotting trends. It would give you a skewed picture of only the Web-savviest segment of the population. But it is one of numerous methods that I employ, and the Del.icio.us Popular pages are worth a look for anyone serious about spotting trends.
Hat tip to Harish at BusinessWorks for pointing out the link to Fat Pitch Financials in the latest Carnival of the Capitalists roundup.