7. Ontrendpreneur®

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Start with the central banks’ rigged-markets-fueled merger-and-acquisition craze that’s created monumental wealth for the world’s very wealthy elite.

Couple that with the explosion of cheap technology that’s transforming industries and economic sectors worldwide.

The result: Creation of a new, dynamic playing field for innovators – the era of The Ontrendpreneur®.

As we forecast for 2016: “The cheap-money, zero-interest-rate policies of the Federal Reserve, mimicked with increasing skill across global economies, have further fueled the takeover, mergers-and-acquisitions landscape engulfing civilized nations… As items are shed from inventories because they don’t meet earnings metrics, opportunities emerge for savvy entrepreneurs who are able to identify the under-served market niches and fill them.”

On a concurrent path, technology is wiping away jobs at record pace. Even in the service sector, where the gig economy has been supported by former full-time, career-path workers cobbling together two or three part-time jobs to make ends meet, those jobs now are falling victim to tech replacements.

From bank tellers to fast-food workers, service sectors jobs in 2017 will fall – and fall rapidly.

Two tracks merge into one

These two emerging, fast-evolving trends will force innovative thinkers to identify and seize market opportunities left behind by shrinking product lines maintained by the Big Boxes. Technology will change the face of small-town retailers and service providers.

The proliferation of robotic technology, which enables ice-cream-stand owners to use kiosks instead of part-time students to sell ice-cream cones and sundaes, is one small example of how technology will transform the customer experience with the same homogenized, predictable service as shopping at a chain store.

Therein lies the opportunity for “on-trend” entrepreneurs.

As Mike Glauser, entrepreneurism expert and author, says about small business on Main Street: “We’re rebalancing from high tech toward ‘high touch’.”

Moreover, while technology is on pace to transform business worldwide, evidence is growing that consumers want to buy nationally, shop locally, patronize businesses that value face-to-face customer service and, under the right conditions, can be lured away from the bargain-crazed mania propagated by retail chains and those big boxes.

Again, Glauser: “If you look at consumer surveys, just about everyone would rather shop at a local business if it has the right products available at the right prices.”

TREND FORECAST: Cutting-edge, creative professionals will be increasingly positioned to identify high-potential opportunities in this shifting, tech-dominated  economy.

Nothing can stem the tide of these powerful tech and merger-and-acquisition trends, but the gaps they leave behind will provide significant opportunity. In the years ahead, as the service industry becomes dominated by automated sameness, just as the retail landscape has, a unique type of Ontrendpreneur® can emerge.

Entrepreneurs who understand the value of the personal touch will be on trend to stand apart from a merger, acquisition and automation culture driven only by the bottom line.

Opportunities will be particularly promising in sharing-economy ventures; health and well-being initiatives that stress whole, natural health; serving the needs of the aging; creating quality products, from clothing to arts and crafts, with a distinct local, regional or national identity; local multiplatform media operations; building product and service lines that stress “True Nostalgia” authenticity; and investment in community development and housing that serve both millennials’ penchant for small space and seniors who increasingly want to be close to culture, entertainment options, community ties and more.