How to spot (and act on) new business opportunities

A business opportunity is classed as having the chance to meet a market need, interest or want through a creative combination of resources. This sounds great; exactly what an entrepreneur needs to thrive on. However, identifying and then acting on them isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you on your way to success.

1.       Think outside the box

It’s an age old cliché but applied effectively it really can be the key to success. Analyse data to find the opportunities that others have missed. Finding a pain point and then a corresponding innovative solution will keep your business ahead of the game.

2.       Know what’s inside the box

Essential to knowing how to think outside of this mythical ‘box’, you first need to know what’s inside it. This means knowing anything and everything about your industry, past present and predictions for the future. Only by knowing what is already available, what has worked, what has failed and what your rivals have planned for the future, will you be able to come up with something truly innovative and fill that market gap. In short, do your homework.

3.       Gain knowledge and experience

This helps with the homework thing. By talking to your peers you’ll gain essential industry insight and the better access to information that you have, the more likely you will be able to take advantage of a situation quickly.

4.       Have confidence – it’s ok to fail

This comes from having the previous three points nailed. Once identified, it’s important that you take advantage of an opportunity, even if it’s not guaranteed to succeed. After all, innovation doesn’t come from certain outcomes but from taking risks and trying new things. Taking this jump will always be scary but the more knowledge and experience you have the easier this will be.

5.       Keep a journal

Recording all of the opportunities and meetings that you have will be helpful in the long run. Not all of these will work out but it will make sure you don’t overlook anything that doesn’t at first catch your eye. This will also help you to keep track of your progress and learn from your mistakes.

6.       Understand needs, wants and the fuzzy grey line between them

Understanding the difference between these is business essential. For example, you need food to live, but you could survive without that ice cream sundae (although you might not want to). However, this is an issue that often causes confusion for consumers.

By presenting the benefits and values of a product or service that would usually be a luxury item (a want) it can instead be interpreted as being essential (a need) in order to achieve the desired fulfilled/fashionable/healthy lifestyle.

7.       Do what others don’t want to

Look for things that others don’t want to do. This could be because they are time consuming, dirty, or boring, but dull as they may be, these jobs will still need to be done. By taking that bullet and offering services for mundane tasks, you could soon be transformed from a want into a need.

8.       Make the impossible possible

Solving a problem that nobody else has a solution to will obviously put you ahead of the game. Start by recognising what the sticking points are. Write down the flow of activity for a situation, recognise how this could be improved or ways to ease pressure and go from there. Remember, you need to know the problem first but generally in life there is always an answer somewhere.

9.       Outsource

Save those precious minutes on non-essential tasks, that could be used to chase down and follow up on more opportunities.

10.   Ask for more than you think you will get

When all is said and done, so long as you’re professional and polite, sometimes it’s ok to be a little bit cheeky. Don’t be afraid to aim high; after all, you might just be surprised.

What are your top tips for spotting new opportunities? And even better for making sure that you act on them?