It has been more than five years since the financial crisis of 2008, and while the economy is improving, it is not doing so at a fast enough rate for many people. In order for the US to get back to the thriving fiscal position it was in before the recession, the country needs to create almost eight million new full time jobs. However, for the businesses and organisations that occupy niche positions, there are ways to improve economic development.
For the small businessperson or entrepreneur who is watching every penny and looking to invest in areas of the market that offer the potential for significant growth, fortunately it is relatively easy to gather information about how to recognise such opportunities, all without making a huge financial outlay. Online there are books, periodicals, and image sites which have helpful graphics on many subjects. For example, asset manager Fisher Investments has books available on GoodReads, their news site, MarketMinder, comments on current financial topics, and they post images on the Fisher Investments Flickr channel of data and research.
The owners of small and medium sized companies often do not have sufficient free time to seek out the specific type of investment opportunities they are looking for. It may be that an entrepreneur would like to take a share in a start-up company in his or her particular community, or in a company operating in a particular sector. On the other hand, it might be that a company is in need of inward investment to finance expansion in a niche area where there is an opportunity to fill a gap in the market.
Innovation is king these days and entrepreneurs are obviously the best placed to be the originators of new ideas, products and services. Anything, be it an idea, piece of software or gadget that can increase productivity can be viewed as an innovation. However, the best are those that improve quality of life and reduce damage to the planet. For example, a new method or product that cuts waste or uses fewer chemicals.
Invest in technology
While outdated devices such as typewriters and fax machines have mostly been consigned to museums some companies persist in making do with obsolete computer technology. While this may seem like a cost saving, continuing to use such hardware and software systems simply holds back companies that are attempting to grow. Customers and clients expect virtually instant response times in their transactions and will stop dealing with businesses that fail to deliver on time. Company owners should ensure they have the best equipment they can afford to enable them to not only produce quality goods and services, but also increase productivity.
Immigration is a highly controversial topic in many countries around the world, but while some choose to see only adverse effects there are undoubted economic and business benefits to be had by employing immigrant labour. It might be that these people have a particular set of abilities that are lacking in a home-grown business’s local community. This may in turn, hamper and ultimately cause companies to stagnate because they do not have access to a pool of labour necessary for them to grow. Investment in a wider labour force that offers rare and valuable skillsets is advantageous and will benefit the local community by providing jobs. Niche organisations are particularly well placed to capitalise on the availability of immigrant labour or simply locals who have a wide or unusual skillset.
Broaden product or services base
Diversification can be a key driver in a business’s economic growth. Many niche organisations begin by offering just a single product or service, which leads to a high degree of consumer loyalty. However, to avoid reaching saturation point with a product or service, it is vital that the business diversifies, not just to increase its sales potential, but also to retain the interest of its existing customers. Taking this route can have knock-on effects, such as utilising the skillsets available in the local community and increasing employment.
Appealing to the individual
The major benefit of having a niche business is that it will be or should be, appealing to the individual rather than catering to the mass market. This carries its own responsibility, as the product or service an individual expects to receive from a niche business is of a quality standard and this may require extra investment in premium materials. These can frequently be sourced nearby, thereby offering a benefit to the local community. Alternatively, a business can benefit from taking the basic concept of another organisation’s products and then make their own unique version of them. It is, of course, important not to infringe upon any copyright or intellectual property laws when taking this route.
While it is still a challenging environment for small businesses, entrepreneurs and niche organisations, there are ways that companies can enjoy economic growth if they are prepared to take bold steps, such as borrowing and investing wisely and making any necessary changes to their business methods.