A young graffiti artist spent a lot of time after he matriculated skateboarding and doing graffiti after hours in the dark. This was his passion and he enjoyed it thoroughly. It wasn’t too long before he went to America and learnt from some top graffiti artists there but also learnt about specialised spray-painting methods. He’s come back and now is running his small business doing a new kind of graphic design that sets himself apart from all the graphic designers that are churned out from high-charging colleges.
A young woman, a successful model, in Srilanka started selling personal care products and later garments from a factory because her father had encouraged her to become a business person. One day while she was selling garments from the back of her blue station wagon she came up with an idea to come up with her garment range. Several years later her fashion house is one of the top such companies in Srilanka and is listed on the stock exchange.
A young man was fascinated with selling and that’s all he was interested in until one day he realised that he could parlay his skills into the boat building and yacht construction industry. He eventually became a leading light in the construction of boats and yachts for the market in Europe.
What am I trying to say? The common thread among these entrepreneurs is what you would call “domain expertise”. You might also call it industry expertise.
What I mean by this? Domain expertise is really the expertise you build up through experience in a particular industry or market. Once you have build up a certain number of years in a particular industry what happens is that you start to spot opportunities. You are still able to work in the industry that you enjoy and perhaps even are still passionate about but now you have the opportunity to make an income from the experience and expertise that you have gained over a number of years.
It doesn’t always work this way. Sometimes people are passionate about an industry domain but they have never had the opportunity to “cross over” into their desired domain. I know of an example of a person who was in the motor business who ran alone his own service garage but hankered to go into the restaurant business. How did he bridge the gap between the motoring industry domain and the restaurant business domain? The way he did it was to buy a franchise pizza takeaway and restaurant outlet which was essentially a turnkey operation.
After running this pizza and restaurant business for a couple of years, this business owner understood this industry domain and was able to start looking for opportunities in the industry. He sold the pizza restaurant business and bought another one from a different franchise operation. The challenge was that this franchise outlet had been run into the ground through negligence by the previous young “playboy lifestyle” owner.
But this provided an opportunity to acquire the outlet at a low price and reap the rewards once he had re-established a strong customer base. He was also fortunate in that a large international chain was looking to expand in the country and acquired the franchise. Now his pizza and restaurant outlet is in high demand and should he want to cash out he can realise a good capital return. This entrepreneur recently shared more with me – he is going to open another two food outlets in other areas within this year. I don’t think he knows about recessionery times.
If you are working in a particular industry domain and want to spot an opportunity there to start something from scratch, you may want to start thinking about where the opportunities lie. One trait of an entrepreneur is their ability to spot the gap, to identify the opportunity that others don’t see. Should you need help with identifying the opportunity, you may want to go to the “Books” section on this website and look at the new resource “Breakthrough Ideas”.