4 Ways to Build Your Small Business
4 Ways to Build Your Small Businessback

Even in a slow economy, opportunities emerge that, if you use them well, can rocket your business to success.

If you spot an opportunity, how do you know if it’s built to last or doomed to fade away? Unless you’re a psychic, you have to wait and see. Or do you? Hedge your bets by taking advantage of multiple trends, even wildly different ones. Alice Wang and her partner Pegah Ebrahimi’s, of Spark Box Toys, have done just that.

Target an Emerging Trend
Once upon a time, if you you were affluent, you could show your worth by accumulating stuff.. Some people are now choosing to end this constant cycle of acquisition and shedding. Instead they are regaining control by limiting consumption and living more meaningful lives with less stuff. This movement is known by a variety of terms including simple living, life hacking, and minimalism.

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus write about a meaningful life with less stuff. Spark Box Toys has latched on to this trend. It meets the desire of parents of young children who want to provide the best educational toys without the clutter of unwanted toys after the child loses interest. They’re the Netflix of educational toys. You rent a box of toys specifically designed to appeal to your child’s interest.

Take Advantage of What You Know
I’ve written about Spark Box Toys before and it exemplifies another trend: it takes a woman to understand how women want to shop online. By understanding what women want in an online shopping experience and targeting niches, a new crop of e-commerce startups may be discovering how to compete with the big boys such as Amazon and eBay.

When marketing to women, you need to be a valuable source of information. Women like to shorten the buying process by finding out what experts and their peers think of the products they’re about to buy. Spark Box Toys provides a learning framework for each stage of a child’s development. The toys have been reviewed by educators and experts. Spark Box Toys also tracks usage and feedback of their toys to ensure that kids really engaged with the toys they get. Spark Box Toys even provides playtime ideas to increase enjoyment.

Use Technology
The cost of e-commerce has come way down and websites are now easy to build. As a result more women entrepreneurs are going online to goods and services to other women. They are using their knowledge of the way women shop to attract customers. Spark Box Toy’s feedback loop is an example of using technology to meet the needs of the target audience.

Discover an Overlooked Niche
Moms aren’t the only women spending on kids, according to Wang. Spark Box Toys is now targeting Professional Aunts No Kids (PANKs). This was a previously overlooked segment that Melanie Notkin, founder of Savvy Auntie, discovered and named. PANKs are women who do not have children of their own but have special bonds with the children in their lives. PANKs include aunts, godmothers, cousins, neighbors, and moms’ and dads’ friends. They have discretionary income and spend it freely on the kids in their lives. One in five women is a PANK, according to research conducted by Weber Shandwick, which teamed up with Savvy Auntie.

For a PANK, it’s not about uncluttering their lives; its about providing a special, thoughtful indulgence. With a gift of a Spark Box Toys annual subscription, every time a new shipment of toys arrives, it’s a reminder of the PANK who gave the present.

What trends in 2013 hold the greatest promise for your business?

Flickr image: By 96dpi