Where do you find new opportunities?

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You’ve got to stay current. It’s no use using the information you’ve got in your head when it’s out of date. You’ve got to seek out new information, fresh insights, and new concepts that are relevant for today and that people are using right now.

One thing that is standing out in these rough times is how strong the demand among consumers is for bargains. On a recent Saturday morning I went to rate charity book sale, which is held once a month. My interest is in the reading topics whether it is on knot splicing, coastal fish, lighthouses and even marine art.

Now, I was surprised when I got there to see the car park and the traffic overflow on the sides of the walkway jam-packed with luxury German automobiles. These weren’t the entry-level models either. Individuals had shopping baskets and supermarket trolleys and when loading them up with books. They were hunting for bargains. It just goes to show how the cost of new books has skyrocketed and at the same time in my area alone at least 10 second-hand bookshops have it shut down over the past two years.

The small-scale introduction of Black Friday last year to supermarkets also shows how people are looking for bargains. At some supermarkets with deep price cuts, there were stampedes on mark down foods and beverages. As prices of foods have increased, hard-hit consumers will get into a buying frenzy when they know about products are selling for less.

The broader trend is for value for money. If you can offer value for money you can make good income in these times. For example, a local restauranteer has positioned his small business with a value-for-money offering. Sales are phenomenal and you will be lucky if you can get a booking a week in advance. A service garage is offering value-for-money car servicing, especially positioned for this economy, and is doing very well.

It’s also worthwhile looking at market niches that are resilient. Fashion, weight loss, skin care and golf spring to mind. People with a high passion index could provide a strong market whatever economic conditions. But creativity is needed to come up with new approaches, new concepts in these market niches because you can’t as a small business offer products that are similar to the major brands. But within a special niche you could, for example, offer training, tutorials and lessons.

Another area to look at it this new technology. But here you have to get in at the ground floor. Look at things like renewable energy, the green movement and even graphic design. Those who got in quickly were able to make money before the cram universities and colleges pumped out thousands of graduates. In the graphic design area some streets are festooned with advertisements for cheap graphic design because many thought all you needed to make money was a computer and a pirated copy of Photoshop.

Looking for new opportunities may not sound enticing where you are right now but without innovation even established businesses are shutting their doors for good. Look what’s happening to the old video stores, bookshops and Internet cafes.

Opportunities scanning can alert you to new areas to explore and get yourself prepared before that job or small business hits its expiry date.

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