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The Coming Millenium: 12 Business Inter-Views
By Jack Deal

     1.Computer Repair. Hardware and software sales are tough. We are trying to get away from that but it's not easy. We have to offer more of a solutions-based rather than products-based approach. If we can't do that we will be gone.
      2. Watch Repair. There are fewer watch repairers now. In Switzerland, they are trying to recruit and train watch repair people. The demand is going up. I buy old watches, redo them and sell them on the Internet. I also get people fedexing me watches from all over the country. Jewelers and watch retailers send me their work because they can't find anyone to fix them. Engineers especially love mechanical watches.... and remember the most expensive watches are mechanical.
      3. Scuba School and Dive Center. The retail end of our industry has been going through some really tough times. The Internet and Discount Centers have hurt the retail trade. We are doing more advanced and technical trips and instruction. We feel this market is growing and we are able to fit the need. The strictly retail stores will continue to close.
      4. Computer training. As the technology changes and becomes more complex people and businesses will have to learn it. We have a good future only if we continue to learn more and more. We have to stay on top.
      5. Custom Woodworker. Ours is a dying art. In my day you walked in looking for a job and were happy to start sweeping floors. Today the kids want 15 bucks an hour -- that's the first thing they say! That's why I got rid of my employees -- too much paperwork and bs.
      6. Network Security. Security is still within it's infancy...and the awareness of the need of security is growing incredibly fast! As you know, more and more sensitive information is being processed in networked computing environments, dramatically increasing the efficiency of millions of businesses around the globe, but at the same time rendering them vulnerable to software and hardware failure and misuse from internal or external sources. Security is essential.
      7. Herb and Spice Distributor. We are growing by leaps and bounds. The neutriceutical and health food industries are causing us to grow quickly. We put out a new herb and then we get all sorts of requests for it from those wanting to use it in ways we never imagined. The Internet has allowed us to ship anywhere. Our biggest problems are tracking inventory and keeping the right amount on hand. We can't always project if we will need 10 ounces or 1000 pounds of a product.
      8. Mechanical Contracting, Heating, Air Conditioning, We find it hard to keep good employees. Because we are not union, some journeymen will drive an hour to get better pay. We are in a limited marketplace as well. We don't see how we can really grow at this point.
      9. Organic Coffee Distributor. We should continue to grow steadily. We are selling more product over the Internet. We would like to sell more overseas but the risks are high for a small company. Our biggest problem is finding reliable employees that want to work.
      10. Mountain Climbing Gym. When we first started there was one other gym within 100 miles. Now there are 8. Labor is over half our cost. Since we don't have benefits we get high turnover and it costs us. The applicants we get have little or no work ethic. Our memberships have not grown as quickly as we had anticipated so we have been much slower at repaying our loans. It is truly a labor of love.
      11. Garment Manufacturer. 20% of the garments made now are made of natural fibers. That should rise dramatically in the next century. The environment is getting worse and I am worried about my children's future. Recycling will play a greater role in our future as well.
      12. Microbrewery - We sell all we make and even run out at times in the summer. We are kind of in a bind of sorts. To expand and grow we would need to get more space and buy more equipment. It's really hard for us to determine if it's worth it or not... the numbers really don't come out all that well. We will most likely just go another year or two and do what we're doing...

      Jack Deal is owner of Deal Consulting in Santa Cruz, California. Related articles may be found at www.dealconsulting.com.

Other article by Jack Deal:

Sensory Reduction and the Quest for Human Potential
Superior Management -- The Only Competitive Advantage?
10 Business Trends for 2000
Corporate Culture - A Case Study
The Knowledge/Ideas Paradox


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