How Savvy Entrepreneurs Identify Business Opportunities
by Mashum Mollah Entrepreneurship 04 May 2020
It’s a good time to be an entrepreneur for those who have done their due diligence, have solid business plans and the capital to make sure the business can survive those all-important first few years. With an innovative idea, hard work, a great value proposition, proper financing, dedicated employees, a need in the marketplace, and some luck, those with determination and drive can launch a new company or buy an existing one and push it toward success.
Many people dream of being self-employed. Often, though, the sticking point is what product or service to offer. In some cases, a new idea will manifest itself. For most, though, there’s a problem that needs to be solved. Look around the marketplace and you’ll see all kinds of things that were borne out of a need to make something easier, faster, or more efficient.
This idea is echoed by Raffi Amit, a professor of management at the Wharton University of Pennsylvania. “Clearly, when you see inefficiency in the market, and you have an idea of how to correct that inefficiency, and you have the resources and capability—or at least the ability to bring together the resources and capability needed to correct that inefficiency—that could be a very interesting business idea,” says Amit. “In addition, if you see a product or service that is being consumed in one market, that product is not available in your market, you could perhaps import that product or service, and start that business in your home country.”
Most successful entrepreneurs will agree that problems lead to solutions. There’s always something out there that will improve lives. It just has to be figured out.
“Any business opportunity that comes my way, I look to the DNA of the problem and where the opportunity stems from,” says Mark Mastandrea, co-founder of Ikonick, a company that sells wall art to businesses and households. “I dig into the problems that have created those opportunities, to figure out if I can provide the proper solutions to those problems. If so, I act quickly and move fast on seeing where I can create value and potentially be involved in the project.”
In today’s fast-paced world, problems, and opportunities abound. And when they’re identified, the savviest business minds find ways to build businesses around them.
One opportunity on which many entrepreneurs are identifying ways to capitalize is sourcing and merchandising medical and recreational cannabis.
George Scorsis, who left his longtime role as a successful executive in the energy drink industry, now serves as executive chair of the board of WeedMD, a government-licensed producer of cannabis-based in Ontario. His company, a recent startup with a 158-acre state-of-the-art greenhouse and 26,000-square-foot production facility, is poised for success in today’s economy. In fact, WeedMD recently purchased another licensed facility and has expanded its multi-channel distribution strategy that includes an exclusive medical platform that addresses the needs of labourers who now have medical cannabis available to assist with a multitude of conditions including pain.
“Due to the stigma quickly changing, many medical professionals are now endorsing cannabis, while many patients are enthusiastically touting its analgesic properties. Countless dispensaries and retail outlets are cropping up in places where recreational use is now legal, the industry is really enjoying a boom,” says Scorsis. “It wasn’t that long ago that traditional medical providers and complementary healthcare practitioners didn’t see eye-to-eye. Fortunately, that changed. The same thing is starting to happen now with medical marijuana, possible because of the widespread use of CBD paved the way. Pain relief is pain relief, and if that relief comes from a natural and organic source, so much the better.”
Sometimes new business opportunities are right in front of you.
Just ask Geoffrey Leslie, CEO, and president of Screams, a company that builds a clean, energy-generating device that powers appliances in both homes and businesses. The device has the potential to change how people use electricity through the affordable, self-sustaining electricity it offers. According to Leslie, “So many of the best ideas come from our own personal observations, but to obtain these insights, you have to get out in the community.”
So how can you identify where problems, as well as business opportunities, might exist? There’s always a personal experience. What have you done or used lately that didn’t live up to its promise? Atlanta entrepreneur Sara Blakely launched her wildly successful company Spanx after devising her own one-off solution to eliminate panty lines. You can also ask your friends and family members or simply observe and listen to them.
The website Startup Commons recommends looking online. “Check out the top-funded Kickstarter projects,” reads an article on the site. “Which projects are getting the most crowdfunding? What types of concepts/industries are most popular? This gives you a good idea of where consumer demand is beginning to well up.
In short, keep your eyes open, ask questions, and figure out what’s not working for you. Then, improve it with your own solution and take it to market.