It’s that time of year-end predictions again. During the next few weeks, you’ll be seeing lots of blog posts and news articles listing the most important stories of 2018 and predictions for trends to expect in 2019. But here is our prediction: There will be very little that is different between last year’s and this year’s predictions.

Why? | Trends don’t happen in predictable blocks of time. Usually, the things we think are speeding past us are actually moving quite slow. A technology trend can take decades — 20 years, some experts say — to mature into something that’s viable, usable or real. (Have you seen a self-driving car on the street?)

The late scientist and futurist Roy Amara is credited with “Amara’s Law,” an adage about forecasting short-term and long-term effects of new technology:

We tend to overestimate the effect of a new technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

Amara’s Law was later illustrated by a line chart from the research company, Gartner, that calls it “the hype cycle.”

If you are a small business owner, the trends that are going to impact your business will less likely be macro (the economy) and more likely, micro (public works plans to pave the street in front of your store).

Main Street small businesses should be aware of trends, but should not be obsessed with them. Your success, over time, will likely be impacted by some of the trends you’ll hear about this year — but that impact may not be felt for a while. 
1. Be aware of trends | But don’t be obsessed
2. Be aware of their context | Certain trends can have an impact on one type of business, but not another. If a new piece of equipment can provide you with a competitive advantage in your industry, it’s time for you to learn all you can about that trend. 
3. Be skeptical, but not in denial | Do you sell vacuum cleaners? Changing technology may not put you out of business today, but over time, you’ll have to keep up with changes in price and efficiency. I’m not picking on vacuum salespeople: the same is true for all of us in any business.

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