Your business idea need not be a completely new product or service. It can be a slight variation on what already exists in the marketplace. Startups can also flourish by sussing out existing great concepts that have been inefficiently managed and unable to reach the entire target market, and varying operations slightly to correct a competitor's mistakes. And huge markets such as long distance services, fashion & apparel, grocery stores, and movie theaters (just to name a few) require multiple businesses to handle the demands of their large customer bases. A startup may seek to carve out a niche in one of these large industries.
Taking advantage of an opportunity
Like truffle-sniffing pigs, entrepreneurs are constantly hunting for opportunities others have passed over. Whenever you endure poor services, discover shoddy yet omnipresent products, or fail to find a product that you somehow desperately need, you've found an opportunity. Whether a variation of an existing product or service in the marketplace or an entirely new concept that will fill an aching void in people's lives, opportunities are all around us.
When you do experience an opportunity in the marketplace, be sure to take note of it. Always have a notepad or something else on which you can jot down your ideas. Ideas present themselves in the most unlikely of situations, and you can't always rely on your porous head to retain all those eureka moments.If you have already uncovered an opportunity, start your research! Through research, you'll discover if your idea is viable, and if anyone else has already thought of it. Opportunities exist everywhere in the marketplace, but some are not big enough on which to build a profitable business. Undoubtedly there's some market for vintage paperclips, but could you live on it? But if you feel that an idea may be successful in the future, make sure to record your thoughts and ideas so you can refer to them at a later stage. You never know when the market conditions may be right for your idea. Maybe someday the nation will be ready for eel burgers. By keeping an organized journal of your ideas and notes, you will be ready to tap potential ideas when the market is right.
Like the crocuses that flourish in spring, opportunities often present themselves for only a limited period of time. When you do spot an opportunity, seize it as quickly as you can, lest someone else do the same. Many large businesses cannot act swiftly because of the many levels of management and bureaucracy they must go through to head in a new direction. Use your flexibility to capitalize on opportunities in the marketplace before your competitors.
Things to think about
- How will you keep an accurate log of different observations and opportunities you witness in the marketplace?
- What will it take to capitalize on these opportunities?
- Why is it that other businesses are not doing this?
Many people build castles in the air. Few put foundations under them. Having an initial spark of inspiration is just the first step in the long process of developing a profitable business idea. An idea is like a prototype that must be tested under every possible condition. Your entrepreneurial thinking will yield many potential business ideas, but most won't hold up under close scrutiny. The reason the failure rate of startups is so high is that many entrepreneurs do not conduct the necessary painstaking research, analyzing timing, location, and both current and future market trends.