Saturday, December 13, 2008

Opportunities for the Future

score_tjpg_bour This article was written by Norm Bour, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

As this economy remains in a state of chaos, let’s try to look at the bright side. This crisis shall pass in time and no matter what is thrown at us, we, as Americans, will endure and survive. That is well and good for the “Big Picture”, but what about you, the reader, the one who is trying to keep their current business going or possibly looking to start a new one? Where shall you look? What businesses look like better gambles (?) in the next few years?

The Ageing Population

I’m a Baby Boomer and most of the people I know are too, if not beyond that. Health care is better than it’s ever been and the average life expectancy in this country is now over 78 years of age. That means a support system will be needed for tens of millions of people ranging from health care, care giving, even mundane tasks like help with shopping or chauffeuring from place to place. This new Baby Boomer generation will be the largest and wealthiest mass ever to enter retirement age. And they fight and kick the whole way! For the most part this generational group of ex-hippies, ex-executives and every other career that they engaged in likes to be active and they truly do think young. What businesses can enhance that and support that attitude?

For the most part this generation is more active than most before them. Exercise, athletics, entertainment, personal training, beauty treatments, cosmetic surgery; these will all be in high demand in the decades to come. Golf, hiking, fishing, you name the sport and there will be more people engaged in solitary (not team) sports than ever before. Though youth may be gone, the ILLUSION of youth remains strong. How can you profit from that?

In addition, the majority of these Boomers do not like cold climates, so keep that in mind when you think about starting or maintaining a business where there are more people leaving than arriving. In California we’re probably fine, but the Northeast and Middle America will not be the destinations of choice.

The New, more Complex World

Another area of profit is the ever growing and ever more complicated world of computerization. A novelty 20 years ago, computers are a necessary part of life and their complexity grows each year. Wi-fi, networking, new operating systems, and even the “dark side”, viruses and other Trojans and malware will create opportunities for those that wish to service the less sophisticated. And the computer opens up opportunities for growing on-line businesses, networking with vast amounts of like-minded people, and working in areas that you may not have had access to in the past. Location restrictions are less important than ever before and doing business cross country and even worldwide is not out of reach.

Keep an open mind

These are just two of the many ideas that will have a greater chance of success in the years to come. Other areas:

· How about the “Green Movement”, which is here to stay? Energy savings will remain a mandate from all levels and there will be opportunities. Energy auditing, support of hybrids and a host of businesses we cannot even imagine will open up in the next decade.

· Career counseling. Even though the population is aging, many are not financially able to retire. These people need direction, counseling and guidance in their next steps.

· And along those lines they also need financial help and counseling. Financial advisors and planners will remain busy in the years to come.

So as we approach 2009 try not to think of the past for it will never be the same again. All the old rules are gone and the stability we’ve nurtured our entire lives may also be gone. If your business is not doing what it used to, or what it should, remember it’s smarter to cut your losses if you need to change direction and if you start fresh do your homework first.

Happy holidays and a Make a toast to a successful 2009