How to spot opportunities in business

Spotting opportunities is the essence of entrepreneurial success, but if you’re yet to make your mark in business, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to identifying profitable ideas.

It’s tempting to think that the best concepts suddenly present themselves to people as eureka moments. In reality though, most entrepreneurs have to train themselves to recognise and develop opportunities. So, if you’re looking for your big break, here are some pointers that I think are worth paying attention to.

Focus on areas you’re familiar with

If you have personal or professional experience in a particular industry, it makes sense to focus on searching for ideas and innovation opportunities in that field. The more you know about an industry, the more insight you’ll have into the potential that may exist within it.

For example, you’re likely to be aware of the products or services that are already available, what’s currently working and not working and what your competitors are up to. An entrepreneur will use this knowledge to identify where they can make a difference, solve a problem or offer something unique to the market.

Look for creative solutions

‘Thinking outside the box’ may be a cliché and one of the most overused phrases in business, but this adage really gets to the heart of what it takes to spot an opportunity. Essentially, the best business ideas boil down to finding new ways to solve old problems or to serve existing needs. This means you’ll need to think creatively.

A great case in point is the food delivery company Deliveroo. The business, which makes money by charging customers a flat fee on its app and taking a commission from restaurants, was set up just over three years ago and already has over 300 employees and thousands of delivery agents across Europe and Asia.

Founder William Shu apparently came up with the idea after many late nights working in the banking sector with limited cuisine on offer for home delivery. He saw an opportunity to solve that problem for himself and others like him and, in doing so, filled a gap in the market by offering restaurants that don’t normally deliver food an additional source of revenue and by providing consumers with greater choice when they are ordering food.

Don’t hesitate

Identifying an idea you think may have potential is one thing. Having the courage to pursue the concept is something else entirely. If you hesitate and fail to seize the moment, someone else may get in there first.

Bear in mind that if you’ve spotted a gap in the market, the chances are others will recognise the opportunity too. There’s no way of knowing when this will happen, but by acting swiftly and having the courage of your convictions, you can put yourself in poll position.

No business idea is guaranteed to work out and there’s rarely a perfect time to take the plunge. The simple fact is, to succeed as an entrepreneur, you have to be prepared to take calculated risks.

Don’t shy away from hard work

Columnist Ann Landers once said: “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognise them.” This hits on a key point for anyone looking for a business opportunity. It’s essential to realise that having the initial idea is only the first step; the hard graft is yet to come.

You’ll need to do the groundwork to give your concept lift-off, and you can’t expect your new idea to start turning a profit straight away. It might take months or even years before you really start to be rewarded for your efforts. But if you believe in your venture, can inspire others to believe in too and you are willing to put in the hard yards, you may just achieve success.

Read more blogs by Chris Niarchos.

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