- Category: Market research
The top 3 opportunities for your new business
Our world is changing, and with digitalization, climate change, the collaborative economy and the phenomenon of globalization, it will only be changing faster in the future.
Because of all these changes, old marketing habits are getting obsolete faster and faster. Afte all, not only is consumer behavior evolving rapidly, but marketing and distribution principles are evolving as well. However, such a period of change and questioning is ideal for the emergence of new opportunities, and it is perfect for those who are willing to seize them.
- Detecting and seizing opportunities
- Finding a new application for an existing product
- Where to look for opportunities?
Detecting and seizing opportunities
In order to do that, one has to be in the right state of mind. Basically, one will need a critical mind, intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness.
Always emphasize critical thinking.
This will allow you to:
– Judge the validity of the current commercial situations,
– Evaluate the real merits of acquired positions,
– Find the problems of the established systems,
– Highlight the flaws and imperfections of the products or services offered
– Identify the lack of solutions for a perceived need.
Having a critical mind basically means to observe and identify everything that could be improved and everything that complicates our life, whether in our professional or private life. So whenever you make a purchase, ask yourself these questions:
“Is this the best product?”, “The most effective?”, “The cheapest?”, “The safest?”, “The most practical?”, etc.
– Electric hand drills are hard to drill straight with
– Irons have an electric wire that can interfere with the ironing
Identifying little problems like these and finding solutions to them are actually the origin of many new concepts. In fact, the only thing many franchisors did to reach their status was to simply provide a qualitative, standardized and streamlined product, when customers could only find a fragmented, random and untrustworthy offer before.
This constant questioning has to be daring, though. Otherwise, it’s easy to fall into common intellectual patterns or habits, and that dampers imagination.
As such, one should not be afraid to question what is presented as the norm. Let’s take the example of the hype following the release of a new car model. Does this hype not dull the critical sense? This new model certainly isn’t the compact, clean engine that integrates and miniaturizes all components that we’ve all been waiting for. And yet, it will still receive praise.
To see how light the technical advancements in the automobile industry have been, one simply has to open a car trunk and look at all the “gadgets”, things, pipes, and cables. Is it not still the same hardware as 20 years ago? Haven’t other technological sectors meanwhile achieved incredible advancements? It’s already 50 years since mankind walked on the moon, and computers have been running billions of operations per second for over a decade.
Let’s take some examples:
On July 21, 1969, when astronaut Armstrong took the first step on the moon, could not we have hoped for flying cars at the turn of the millennia?
Let’s look at another example: either men have a beard, or they are forced to shave every day. The only options available on the market are the electric shaver with questionable efficiency or the hand razor with which it is easy to cut oneself. And yet not only is shaving a chore for many people, but beards aren’t even a symbol of virility by today’s standards!
Would not it be in the interest of a young biologist with a critical and enterprising mind to seek the development of a treatment removing facial hair for a long time, or even forever? Or maybe a young engineer will challenge the current mechanical solutions and propose a laser razor that mows the hair without scraping the skin and therefore without the risk of cutting oneself. Granted, the final laser hair removal treatment exists, but is exceedingly expensive, painful depending on the areas treated and it can only be performed by a doctor).
Be careful though! Critical thinking does not mean that any crazy idea should lead to the creation of a business. If an idea seems absurd, one must scrupulously apply the methodology for creating a company, and the first step is always to validate the idea. If necessary, don’t hesitate to give up on your idea.
Constantly exercise great intellectual curiosity
Our world is changing quickly and relentlessly. To seize the opportunities available, one needs to keep track of all of these changes. This requires enough intellectual availability to gather information, analyze and understand what is happening, anticipate, and even predict certain developments.
One needs to be curious about everything in order detect opportunities!
– Commercial events and other exhibitions, whether they are directly related or not with our field of interest, can help to find creative ideas, especially if one goes there with the intention to question everything he will see.
– Many technical magazines, professional journals and databases are available in order to search for an idea.
However, their sheer number can be disorienting, so it is better to have already thought about what one wants to do before going to every exhibition out there.
Always keep an open mind
Finally, knowing how to identify opportunities implies accepting inputs, know-how or different practices from outside sources.
To be open-minded is to pay attention to the ways others live and perceive, especially if these are different from our own.
It also means to listen to one’s usual business partners: colleagues, customers, suppliers, other partners of the company, and knowing how to hear about their vision of things when it comes to the evolution of their sector of activity (consumption, production chain, projects in the profession, problems of marketing or after-sales service, etc.).
It is also possible to find products or services that could make for a business project in France by travelling. A trip abroad would be a good time to observe behaviors, customs, to discover other business practices and other products.
Observation and critical analysis can open lucrative business opportunities.
This openness also applies to the understanding of what is happening within the population. Some segments of society are poorly known in terms of lifestyles, consumption patterns, values and may be of interest. The company Sociovision periodically publishes works describing the characteristics of behaviors and the way of life of French society. Credoc also has surveys or studies, some of which are available to the public.
Finding a new application for an existing product
Starting a business from a “new application” means:
– To use a technique already well-known, a widespread know-how or an existing product, and transposing it into another activity, in a new context or on a different market,
– To produce with an industrial process what was only done by individual artisans, or vice versa.
– The machine sculpting busts of individuals was originally, a three-dimensional CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) machine tool made from precision machining equipment for the industry.
– Television entertainment in taxis has involved tackling a new advertising distribution channel.
– The precious wood esthetics of some televisions or desktop computers.
– The revival of the scooter is a good example of a new application: what was originally an antique child toy has become a “fast moving accessory” transposed on the market of “pedestrians in a hurry”. Not only does the redesigned object have undeniable qualities (design, foldable, light, etc.), but it is also completely in tune with a constant need of nowadays’ consumers: saving time.
– The Internet is a new vector of distribution perfect for new applications, since it it’s possible to move certain traditional commercial activities there. However, the experiences of e-commerce must make it clear that while creativity can be practically unbridled in “new application”, the ideas implemented must nevertheless correspond to a real need that need to be met under the right conditions of economic viability.
Be careful! Because of the innovative nature of new applications, it is hard to predict just how customers will react; for example: the Bic perfume sold in the same manner as the disposable lighter was an utter failure.
Halfway between “an activity already on the market” and pure innovation, a new application requires a thorough examination to properly validate its concept before launching. More risky than a conventional project, its profitability is superior if successful. However, plagiarism often appears quickly.
Overall, the current era, marked by a rapid sociological evolution of values and lifestyles, combined with a growing mix of populations and the profusion of new information and communication technologies, is proving very favorable to the emergence of “new applications”.
Where to look for opportunities?
To identify a new business opportunity, one needs to stay alert on three things in particular:
- The observation of the economic life,
- The observation of the professional environment,
- The observation of everyday life.
Observing the economic life
Carefully following the news (press, television, magazines, …) can give food for thought to detect “paths to follow”. For example: the announcement of the creation in an average city of a university antenna; the aging population; the development of insecurity or vandalism, the announcement of a new regulation or an incentive tax measure, etc.
The Internet also offers means keeping up with the news: free subscription to various newsletters offered by certain sites, or the use of the “alerts” feature of the Google search engine.
The news dedicated to the creation of companies provides coverage on new trends of consumers or markets on new products, on new businesses, or on the testimonials of creators, thus allowing to anticipate the evolution of demand. Likewise, the professional press often reports what is new in a given sector.
Critical examination of different types of statistics (from a trade union, a ministry, an economic service of a local authority, a chamber of commerce or trades, research organizations and observation, etc.) can reveal opportunities to create, and so do certain structural planning or urban planning projects or the announcements of certain new regulations
Observe professional life
Knowing a profession well and having the dispositions of the mind already mentioned should be an encouragement to look in one’s sector for new services or products. After all, being in touch not only with the suppliers or the customers, but also with the other partners of the company can lead to imagine solutions or improvements answering dissatisfactions, malfunctions or identified needs.
For example, for a receptionist in a factory, the problems that regular delivery people face may, depending on their nature, give him the opportunity to find a market solution to this situation.
The general tendency for companies to look for productivity gains can also be the occasion for the outsourcing of an activity (such as an insufficiently strategic or profitable manufacturing process to be kept by a company with a heavy structure).
Observe everyday life
Scenes from everyday life, as well as issues that can be personally confronted in everyday life, can inspire new ideas for products or services.
Examples: thanks to subscriptions, having dozens of television programs at the same time at our disposal and being able to record only one at a time with a digital video recorder. Bars are always completely crowded at noon. For a lunch for two, the pedestal table is often way too small to accommodate for everything needed: cutlery, plates, glasses, bottles, bread basket, salt cellar, etc. A solution is probably possible, without changing the pedestal tables, of course!
Again, one must have a critical view to become aware of these problems and imagine a solution.