What next? Utah's most successful entrepreneurs on the future of business

By Kevan Barney

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Aug. 15 2011 12:06 p.m. MDT

When Forbes named Utah to the top spot in its annual “Best States for Business and Careers” ranking last fall, the magazine cited the fact that Utah's economy has expanded 3.5 percent annually over the past five years, faster than any other state except North Dakota, and 3 1/2 faster than the United States as a whole. In addition, said the magazine said, Utah household incomes increased five percent annually, which is tops in the country and twice as fast as the national average.

In terms of business, Utah obviously has a few things going for it. But what’s next? With the 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards in the Utah Region having just wrapped up, the finalists for those awards – some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the state – were asked to share their predictions (and in some cases, advice) about business in Utah and the world over the next five years.

1. General business

“We remain in a tenuous economy and frugality will be critical to surviving what might continue to be challenging times. Be lean and do not overextend your business with financial obligations, debt or inventory. It is important for businesses to regularly reinvent themselves. Companies that become complacent find themselves behind the curve and unable to catch up with fresh and innovative competitors.” – Corbin B. Church, CEO, Miche Bag

“The events that will change the business environment, economy and the sociological behaviors lie in improved technology, which affects all industries, medicine, IT, business programs, conservation of resources, including improved methods to store water for long periods of time, and improved transportation (transportation systems, cost of transportation, and use of technology for space travel and customization for the everyday consumer).” – Karen George, president and CEO, Wasatch Clinical Research

“Inflationary pressures must be carefully watched for impact on business.” – David R. Jenkins, president/CEO, Conservice

“I have a great deal of faith in the American system and the long-term opportunities that are available to anyone who can bring a real service to the marketplace and is willing to work hard. The fundamental freedoms that we enjoy in this country are and will continue to be the biggest driver that will make it possible for businesses to continue to succeed. I am confident about the long-term opportunities in Utah as well as the country as a whole. I believe that in the next three to five years Utah business will be in a very strong position.” – Larry Stevens, president/CEO, Med One Capital

“Businesses designed to maximize social benefit rather than maximize profit will become prevalent. In addition, ‘mompreneurs’ will give way to ‘couplepreneurs.’” – Orville Thompson, CEO, and Heidi Thompson, president, Scentsy

“Amazon will become the No. 2 retailer behind Walmart, and half of newspapers existing today will stop printing daily news.” – Ted Broman, president, IntegraCore

2. Technology and business

“Technology will continue to change the way we work with a continuing shift to work-from-home models.” – Robert W. Mendenhall, president, Western Governors University

“I predict that the pace of change is rapid now and will continue to accelerate over the next five years as technology advances and new business models emerge. The impact of this rapid pace will be a ripe environment for the true entrepreneur. As we have seen historically, vacuums will be created for new products and ideas and the entrepreneur who takes advantage of this will see success and be fruitful.” – David Dangerfield, president/CEO, Avalon Health Care

3. Health care and business

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