Isn't it frustrating that some people just seem to have that entrepreneurial knack - business opportunities just seem to go their way again and again?
Is it because some entrepreneurs are just luckier than others, or are they doing something that puts them in the path of opportunity more frequently than the average person?
Regardless of what type of industry you are in, this article will share a list of niche areas to explore for new opportunities you can take advantage of and highlight a few strategies you can use to find other, less obvious, ones.
What is a Business Opportunity?
The standard definition of a business opportunity (according to Wikipedia) is:
"A business opportunity (or bizopp) involves sale or lease of any product, service, equipment, etc. that will enable the purchaser-licensee to begin a business."
That's pretty poor. Let's do a much better job of defining the phrase in broader terms,
A business opportunity is any scenario in which an entrepreneur or business owner can find a way to generate revenue in a sustainable manner, using the resources they have at their disposal.
In other words, business opportunities are all around us and you need only two things in order to take advantage:
- Realize where the opportunity lies
- Be able to do something about it
Ideas that have a huge market but are beyond our ability to implement (i.e. like a functioning water engine) are not really opportunities. Conversely, things that are easy for us to do tend to have well-established, saturated markets or low demand.
The trick to coming up with a great business opportunity is to find the balance between demand and what you can reasonably accomplish to meet that demand.
Widespread Business Opportunities
Here's a list of ongoing niche opportunities that might help you discover something worth pursuing. By definition, these are pretty broad and generic, but hopefully they will demonstrate the point that opportunity is literally everywhere - and that is an inspiring thought.
1. Information & data
People, companies, governments and organisations all need the right information and data to make decisions. There is always going to be a huge demand for information - especially if it can bring new insights.
Data is all around us but it isn't always in a usable format. Sometimes all that is required is to provide an interface, or find a way to capture and present hard to reach data.
Apps that provide ride sharing facilities are a good example of this. They record travel data via a smartphone's GPS and use that information to match people with similar daily routes. In this way people can carpool easily to save money, drive less, and reduce congestion on the roads.
Similarly, marketers, advertisers and retailers are voracious consumers of data. They want to know what their return on investment is, how much competitors are selling, what competitors are doing to generate sales, and so on. This information is often readily available online. All you have to do is grab it, and sell it.
For example, RT500 Enterprise is an hourly Amazon sales and price tracker that produces accurate charts that can help anyone understand everything from how well a product is selling to when to buy it, or even when to sell it. Here's a chart showing the sales and price changes for commonly used printer ink, sold on Amazon.
This data might be useful to competing printer brands. It might be useful for small businesses who want to save money buying printer ink. It might be useful for retailers looking to stock or compete with this product.
Given that you could access the same data for any of 70 million products sold on Amazon, the opportunities to track and use this information is endless. You could start a comparison review blog for console games and show readers how popular each game is using sales data, or alert them when the price drops.
Data like this is everywhere. All you have to do is get it in front of the right people.
2. New technologies (Rising columns)
One of the great advantages of living today is that the pace at which new technologies arise and evolve has increased (and continues to increase) dramatically. This means that there are new opportunities in more and more previously non-existent niches.
The best example is currently drones.
More and more drones are being manufactured, and more and more are being sold every day. Every day innovative companies find new ways to use drones to do things faster, cheaper and better. Drones are controlling the spread of pests in crops, helping firefighters and emergency services, exploring for minerals, delivering products, patrolling secure areas, and more.
Everywhere drones find a use means there is opportunity to talk about them (i.e. review blogs, comparison sites,etc), sell them, integrate them with other technologies, sell accessories for them, insure them, build spares & offer repairs, and much more.
Drones based business ideas might be just the opportunity you're looking for.
3. Web content
Pretty much all content humanity now produces can be considered Web content - even if it is originally targeted at TV or radio, it ends up on the Web.
There are no limits when it comes to the medium in which you communicate (i.e. text, video, and sound) and subject matter. All that counts is whether or not you can produce something that people want. It doesn't matter what it is. If you can get eyeballs onto a Web property you can make money from it.
How you do that is up to you, but it is only fair to point out that there is a lot of competition out there. Millions of people work every day to add to the general Internet background noise, as waves and waves of content pile up online. This can make it hard to break though and get noticed.
What you have going for you is this,
The vast majority of Web content is of mediocre quality; leaving a permanent gap open for innovative, interesting and compelling content producers.
Combine new and interesting topics (there are always new advances in technology, new political stupidities to parody, new disasters to discuss, innovative new apps to cover, and so on) to capture market share in a growing niche and use your reach to make money.
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to break into an industry because it requires almost no capital outlay. Other companies spend millions in research and development and still offer extremely generous commissions to 3rd parties (i.e. you and me) to help sell their products and services.
Again, it's not a trivial thing to promote, market and sell anything online. Especially since there are millions of people already out there trying to do the same thing. But here's the thing,
Without realising it, you might have already have existing connections and skills that provides a perfect platform to become an affiliate marketer.
If you have worked in sales, for example, it may be that you know tens, hundreds, or even thousands of local or national business owners. Maybe you know lots of restaurant owners, accountants, doctors... any group of people will do. Are there gaps in the services and products they are using that you could fill?
Again, by looking at what new technologies (rising columns) are making an impact you can partner with innovative companies to sell their products by leveraging your existing contacts. Combine this with great content, interesting and insightful data, and you just might be able to set up an online presence that drives huge amounts of sales, leads and profits.
Looking at cloud based products and services is a great place to start because many companies are yet to make the switch on a large scale.
How to Find a Business Opportunity
In the event that nothing on the above list of opportunities reached out and grabbed you, there is a step-by-step strategy that you can use in order to increase the chances of finding something you can sink your teeth into.
1. Constantly meet and talk to new people
It is virtually impossible to sit down by yourself and come up with great ideas that will disrupt the industry and get to IPO in a few years.
It is much easier to speak to others and learn about what they are doing (and why), and use your imagination to find the gaps.
Most people are delighted to chat to someone who is genuinely interested in what they do. They tend to like people like this. This helps establish real connections that can also be useful down the line - when it comes time to pitch new ideas to industry players.
The more people you can meet, and in particular those who are active roleplayers within a niche, the more likely you are to find new opportunities, and be able to leverage these connections to launch new ventures.
2. Be a team player
A lot of work is involved in getting an idea off the ground to the point where it is stable and profitable. In fact, the sheer amount of work is generally beyond any one individual.
And worse; because any new startup generally requires a diverse set of skills, it is not efficient for one person to do it all. Doing things this way is too slow and laborious. Division of labor is much quicker.
Recognize that you can't do everything yourself and look for good people to put into the right places. This might mean giving up a share of ownership to entice others to commit, but having a smaller share of a big pie is better than having a total share of nothing.
3. Help others succeed
Not every success you have as an entrepreneur needs to be your own. It may be that you are in a position to help someone else succeed.
Listening to other people's ideas and finding ways to work together to help launch their startups is just as valid a way to make money as launching your own ideas.
Believing in others at the start, when no-one else is helping them out is worth a lot. You might find that, for very little investment of time, money, or effort, you are able to secure a decent share of equity.
Again, having a small share of someone else's successful enterprise is better than not having anything at all.
4. Always look two years ahead
Don't try to succeed straight away. Recognize that most startups take time to iron out their processes, settle into their niche, and become stable.
While online publishers love to cover stories of overnight riches and success, the actual percentage of startups that succeed like this are vanishingly small.
Set goals and objectives for both the short, medium and long term and work towards them steadily.
And, aside from growing your business, it also helps to constantly look two years ahead within the industry as a whole. Do a good job at this and you might be able to spot opportunities and act on them before the competition does.
5. Try get results early
One of the most important ingredients for success is failure. Truly great entrepreneurs are the ones who learn from failure and convert it into opportunity.
It's important to be bold. To take calculated risks. Find ways to push your business to success quickly, or discover reasons why it won't work as early as possible.
The longer you persevere at something that is not going to work in any meaningful sense, the longer you are postponing finding the right idea that will ultimately work.
Failing early and often is not the same as giving up too easily. It's about being smart and playing the percentages.
Take what you learned from the previous failure and use that knowledge to inform your behaviour and decisions to create better opportunities going forward.
What do you think of these tips for generating and taking advantage of opportunities? What other strategies do you use to find new gaps in the market?
Share your ideas in the comments.