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A Common Bond?

February 21, 2013 - Ernest Hohmeyer
I am becoming excited for our communities.

As I rifle through all these different business publications making their bold predictions for 2013 and beyond they are beginning to speak our language.

Opportunities for our rural areas may be “trending” our way.

What they are saying

In the last several weeks, I reported on how projected trends had an increasingly “Adirondack” feasibility to them.

Entrepreneur Magazine ran a cover story “Trends 2013: 10+ Fresh Ideas, Directions and Technologies” (ABT Jan. 2). Of potential interest to us were back office opportunities related to the collection of data “Big Data” in industries such as the medical community. Entrepreneur talked about how “…90% of the world’s digital information was produced over the last two years.”

Yes, you got that right - the last 2 years...

Natural based products and USA made are other possible opportunities for our region.

In Entrepreneur’s “The Balm of Trust” trend they suggest that consumers are “simply seeking brands they can trust.” “It’s the emotional benefits that make you a brand and get you into people’s lives so they come back time and time again” according to Jim Joseph, branding expert and author of The Experience Effect for Small Business referenced by Entrepreneur.

Our independent small businesses are primed to earn the consumer’s trust as we can directly communicate that message to the customer.

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently ran an article “What You Can Learn from Family-run Companies” (ABT Feb 9).

Can you imagine that?!

“Focus on resilience, not short-term performance,” writes co-authors Nicolas Kachaner, George Stalk, and Alain Bloch in this HBR article. “Mom-and-Pop” businesses represent a “powerful role that family-controlled enterprises play in the world economy.”

Common Threads

I like to find common threads among these “prediction pontiffs.” You know the old saying, if you pay attention to only one customer or just your family, you may be in trouble. Especially in this age of reviews, we have become so sensitive to singular comments we tend to go over-board in our response and treat it like an epidemic. I wonder sometimes if we spend too much time knee-jerk reacting instead of following a true course.

However, if the same information or comment keeps showing up from multiple sources, well then that may be a different story.

So it was with this attitude that I keep scouring through some of the leading business magazines looking for “common themes” between them.

And it seems that the Adirondacks have some new economic opportunities.

Inc. Magazine joined the prediction parade with its recent article “How & Where to Make Money in 2013 (and beyond).” Their subtitle is “Game-changing Trends, Hot Markets, Daring Predictions” and “16 Reasons to be (cautiously) Cheerful about the Year Ahead.”

Isn’t the title alone, enough to get you pumped?!

But here is what got me going: there are several trends that seem to keep showing up and they definitely have potential for us.

Is Small and Remote Hip?

In this Inc. article by Adam Bluestein he also suggests that locally made or “Real stuff, made in the U.S.A.” is gaining in popularity – and feasibility. Bluestein talks about “The rising cost of manufacturing abroad and new technologies like 3-D printing are combining to spark a resurgence of small manufacturing in America.”

Note the word “small.” Does that fit us?!

He goes on to point out that “Not only are consumers hungry for the unique and customized, but physical-product start-ups can also now work anywhere…” This may be good for our remote regions.

A Wellness Brand?

Another common theme Inc. shares with others is the interest in wellness. Bluestein in his section on “5 New Niches that are Heating up Fast,” suggests wellness is one of them. In his “Personal Health, Always On,” he states “In 2013, consumers will increasingly turn to digital tools to monitor and improve their health-through-exercise, sleep, and diet.”

To show how technology is creeping into traditional images of exercising with nature, he writes how “…increasingly flexible and sophisticated sensors – embedded in clothing or shoes or attached to the skin like bandages – will help speed adoption and enable always-on monitoring.”

In other words, as we become increasingly addicted to the need for in-the-moment information, we want to monitor our health in real time.

Could this be an opportunity for the Adirondacks as a “testing ground” for these wellness devices? Is there a possible off-shoot for our biotech companies? Is there a possibility to attract these types of companies through an “Adirondack wellness brand”?

New Education Opportunities?

The trend of “On-line Education” is another opportunity that our area colleges may continue to develop. Home-based, on-line educators may be another niche for our traditional class-room teachers faced with cut-backs in our schools.

Other trends Bluestein notes through various sources is the notion that real estate prices are rebounding, retail sales are projected to increase, and business-travel spending is projected to be up in 2013.

Death to Credit Cards?

And here is Bluestein’s #1 “Game changer”: “Plastic will be passé.”

It may time to re-think the standard credit card machine.

Here is his caption: “Without credit cards, getting paid will get a lot quicker, easier, and cheaper.”

Now I had to read that one 3 times: without credit cards it will be faster to get paid?

Indeed, he writes “Smartphones are displacing credit cards the way plastic once toppled cash.” And the way it is being done is becoming faster and simpler as new applications like Square take root. It may also be cheaper according to Bluestein.

In some cases he notes credit cards are being cut out altogether.

“E-commerce increasingly means m-commerce, and optimizing for mobile payments is key.” He continues “Purchases made on mobile devices in the U.S. are expected to total $11.6 billion in 2012 nearly double those made in 2011…”

As mobile devices increase, they will become “a primary conduit for directing targeted coupons, rewards, and other special offers.”

And just when we thought we were getting a handle on the new social media marketing…

New Approaches

Yes, times are a changin’ and so are new opportunities for the Adirondack economy. Are we agile enough to adapt to it?

We may also want to invite new members to our business development effort like the wellness community and home-based businesses in addition to traditional bankers and developers.

We may need to regionalize our approach to bring the necessary resources together.

It can be a new day.


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