Following business trends (both general trends and trends in your particular industry) is important to the health and long-term success of your business.  Staying aware of trends does not mean that you need to be on the “cutting edge” of every trend.  But, you need to watch those trends so that your business does not become obsolete as your competitors leverage those trends to their advantage.

There are many examples of businesses that failed, at least in part, because they did not recognize trends in their own industry.  Blockbuster Video is one example.  There are many stories and theories regarding the reasons for the downfall of Blockbuster.  But, most business analysts agree that the company waited too long to revise its business model of renting DVDs from retail stores.  By the time the company began offering DVDs by mail, the strongest competitor offering that service (Netflix) already had a big lead.  Netflix has gone on to offer instant downloads as well – following the trend of growing Internet access and increased download capacities.

There are many factors that cause a particular company to experience problems, but it appears that Blockbuster’s failure to take action on industry trends was a significant part of its current problems.

When was the last time you looked at trends in your own industry?  What about general trends, such as increased mobile phone usage, mobile advertising and point-of-sale purchases using mobile phones?

You do not need to be on the very leading edge of these trends, but you cannot ignore trends that affect your business.  Social media is a good example.  Certain groups of people rely heavily on social media as their primary means of communication.  If your customers are in these groups, you need to have a social media presence if you want to reach these customers.

Keep an eye on others in your industry to see how they are adjusting to certain trends.  Don’t just copy what they are doing.  Be innovative and develop your own procedures or systems that leverage those trends to strengthen your business.

Many trends move quickly – spend some time this week studying current trends and look for ways to leverage those trends to grow your business.