The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Consider Cost and Potential ROI
Evaluate how much it will cost your business to invest in a new business trend and calculate your potential reward. You know best how much your startup can spend and risk. Once you assess the cost and potential ROI you can move forward and invest accordingly.
Ask Whether It Solves a Measurable Problem
Before you pull the trigger on any new endeavors, make sure there’s a clear impact upon a known problem. Knowing the value of success, the cost of failure and the break-even point will highlight the potential for risk and reward.
– Sam Saxton, Paragon Stairs
Try to Sell It
If you can’t sell whatever shiny new business trend comes along than it probably makes sense not to invest anything outside of time in incorporating it into your business. That’s why you should try to sell it, even before you have it to sell! If you find that people are willing to pay for it, then it makes sense to take action to incorporate the product into your mix.
Figure Out Whether the Demographics Make Sense
Instead of chasing every business trend out there, consider the bottom line. After all, you only have a finite amount of resources, and new trends pop up almost every week. The best way to do this is to consider your target customer. Will you benefit from reaching them with this new trend? Every dollar counts with a startup, so you need to be strategic and nimble with your ventures.
Don’t be afraid to try out a new tool or process within your startup, but don’t get carried away with introducing new things constantly. Start out with a small pilot, set up objectives for it, and if it helps, expand the pilot to include more projects or people.
Ask Yourself If It’s a Stretch
To capitalize on a trend, devise a strategy that aligns with what you know about your audience. If it’s a stretch, it may not be a good trend. PokemonGo was a hot trend that made great sense for some businesses where there was a realistic overlap between the game and the customer base. Before trying to ride a trend, check to make sure it makes sense with your customer base and business model.
Trust Your Gut
Trends have a really bad habit of fizzling out and dying before they add any real value to your business’s growth. However, some trends can take off and change the entire landscape. While it’s difficult to pick and choose which trends to put effort into, use your instincts and ask some key questions. Is there a problem being solved, a need being met, or some new “thing” that’s highly engaging?
Evaluate It in an Absolute Sense
Ask yourself, “If this trend wasn’t popular, would it still work for my business and my customers?” If the only reason you can think to do something is that it’s what everyone else is doing, then it won’t be effective in the short or long term. Make sure it makes objective business sense and that you’ll be able to get concrete results from it; not useless views and clicks.
Think About It
It seems obvious, but all too often people get caught up in trends – the bright and shiny things of the business world – and don’t actually think about whether these trends make sense for the organization. It also doesn’t hurt to see if other companies you admire (or your competition, for that matter) have hopped on the bandwagon.
Do Some Research
Not every trend is going to make sense for every industry or customer base. Do some fact finding with top customers, survey prospects, and see how the trend maps with your long-term vision for the company and product. If you find there is some relevance, learn how competitors and companies you aspire to be like are leveraging it. If you have a strong conviction about it, test it out.
Try It and Adjust
The only way to actually gauge if a new trend will work for your startup is to be brave enough to test it out. One of the most exciting things about having a startup is that you get to experiment constantly. Smart founders are not afraid to try out trends and make adjustments and judgments based on the results.
Ask Yourself a Simple Series of Questions
Ask yourself a simple series of questions. Does this new business trend ladder back to my main mission as a company? Does it help me achieve a piece or all my mission more quickly, efficiently or productively? What does success look like? If it’s a failure, what is the worst exposure we face? Set up a scratch cost-benefit analysis when it comes to deploying the new trend.
This article originally appeared on the BusinessCollective.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.