Finding business opportunities through spotting work that others don’t want to do or find too hard to do

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An immigrant came to South Africa and began to look around for work that other people found too difficult to do or didn’t want to do. He knew that if he could find this, there would be his big opportunity.

Instead of going for what was hot at the time or that most would-be business owners would think was an obvious thing to do, this entrepreneur looked around to find a hidden business opportunity.

If you were looking for a hidden business opportunity, where would you look? How would you go about finding a new business opportunity? Would you have the perseverance and determination to keep on looking until you came up with what would be a sure-fire moneymaker?

The first thing that you would have to work out for yourself is your domain of expertise. It’s no use going after something that you have no experience or knowledge about or won’t be able to bridge the gap between what you know and the requirements of a particular small business.

Knowing a particular area of business or the market gives you an upper hand because you know what is already available on the market, how people make the products or carry out the service and what sort of demand you can anticipate. But this knowledge won’t necessarily give you a competitive edge unless you come up with something slightly better than what’s available on the market.

The trick here is not to come up with something that is radically new or different. Even very big companies who come up with a new concept for a product or service sometimes battle to get their product or service accepted in the marketplace. Just think how long it took for personal computers, yes the basic personal computer, to be accepted initially. Personal computers took off with the home-based and small business market but it wasn’t until after a good few years before larger businesses began using personal computers. Large companies were used to large computers and the personal computer was viewed as something of a toy.

This is why many would-be business owners make the mistake of thinking that they have to come up with something no one has ever done before – something unique. There is an old rule of thumb in investment, particularly when it comes to investing in new business ideas, start-ups and other young companies – a product or service or business can be new but it should not be more than 15% new compared to what is already on the market. It costs a lot of money to “educate” consumers or customers on something totally new compared to something that is an improvement on an existing product or service.

The way to go about finding a business opportunity that involves something that others find difficult to do or don’t want to do does not involve sitting in a brainstorming session and trying to generate hypothetical ideas of what customers or the market wants. Rather, you have to get off your chair or from behind your desk and go out talking to prospective buyers, industry experts, visit trade shows and even watch how people buy and use existing products and services. If you are patient enough, you will find your opportunity out there among people in the marketplace. This is why it pays to jot down observations or ideas during your “research phase”. Only later will you find that your unconscious mind starts combining concepts or ideas. This enables you to come up with something that others have either not spotted because their nose is too close to their work or they just don’t have the inclination to look out for something better.

The immigrant that found the “hidden” business opportunity knew a lot about kitchen cupboards but knew from making enquiries that there were a lot of kitchen cupboard small businesses in the city where he wanted to reside. What he found out was that the kitchen cupboard businesses found it difficult to estimate accurately the quantities required for kitchens. So he came up with a computer program that made it easy for kitchen cupboard businesses to estimate what they required and to be able to see their designs before beginning manufacture. Yes, it was hard work to get such a programme going, something that none the small kitchen cupboard manufacturers would have wanted to take the time and trouble to do, but this business person persevered, the product was highly successful and after a few years he eventually reaped huge rewards.

In these times when markets are flooded with me-too products and services, with so many others looking for business opportunities it could pay you to look at things people find hard to do or don’t want to do. It may take you a while longer to set up your business and get running but you may well have the market to yourself for a long enough time to harvest profits before others try to climb in.

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