If you want your company to remain competitive and continue growing, learning how to spot new opportunities is an extremely important skill to develop.
Some opportunities may be relatively easy to come across, but this isn’t always the case. You need to develop skills that will help you to identify opportunities that you may not have even imagined existing before.
You also need to learn which opportunities are worth your time, and which opportunities won’t help drive your business forward.
Here are some top tips on how you can better identify business opportunities within any market.
1. Talk to your customers
Talking to your existing customers can be an effective way to discover new opportunities. Although your current customers have already purchased your products, it doesn’t mean that they will continue to choose your business, or that they won’t have ideas on how you could improve.
If you want to keep serving your customers in the best way possible, you need to be willing to listen to their feedback and make changes if necessary.
Send out surveys to newsletter subscribers, arrange focus groups and ask for people’s opinions on social media – these are all great ways in which you can gather opinions and ideas.
Once you have a set of ideas, it’s up to you and your team to go through them, see which ones are the most popular, and discover if any of the ideas suggested are feasible.
Some questions that you could ask your customers include:
- Is there anything about the product that you would change to help it better fit into your life?
- Do you think our product is missing anything?
- Are there any particular features of the product that could be enhanced?
- What complimentary services would you like to see?
- Is there a deal-breaker function that, if we didn’t have, would make you go to a competitor?
- What do you think our competitors do better than us?
- Where did you first hear about us and why did you buy our product?
2. Conduct competitor analysis
Keeping an eye on what your competitors do is an essential task to stop your business from falling behind, it can also open new opportunities for market growth or expansion.
When you see your competitors taking a chance on a new opportunity, you must always consider whether or not this decision is likely to move them forward ahead of your business.
If the opportunity that your competitors are taking advantage of looks like an attractive one, you need to consider whether it could be a good next step for your company too.
Make a list of your top competitors, and think about the following questions:
- Are any of my competitors outperforming my business?
- Do my competitors offer customers anything that we don’t?
- What kind of customers are they targeting? Are they different to mine?
- Are any of my competitors going through periods of growth? Why?
Checking in on your competitors should be something you that you do on a regular basis. This way you can keep track of their strengths and weaknesses while keeping an eye out for any new opportunities they’ve spotted that you may have missed.
3. Look at external factors
New opportunities won’t always be directly within your control. There may be external factors which, while they may appear to have nothing to do with your business, can still affect operations.
Environmental factors can have a significant impact on the business environment. They can include things like:
- Economic changes
- Trade policies
- Social and cultural norms
- Government policies and regulations
- Scientific advancements
- New technological developments
You can keep track of external factors by staying up to date with the latest news, even through your daily social media scroll.
For example, aspects such as growth in the sharing economy could bring about huge changes in the way that you provide your products or services to customers. Hybrid working may also cause you to alter certain aspects of your product. Or changing cultural norms may provide you with an opportunity to engage with a new market of potential customers.
4. Consider other industries
It’s hard to come up with something completely new and innovative when you are stuck inside the bubble of a given industry.
Sometimes, to come up with the best ideas, you need to stretch your mind and think outside of the box – which can include looking at other industries for inspiration.
The industry could be completely different from yours, but you can take a look at how other companies are leading the way in their sector and see if there’s anything they’re doing that you could replicate.
Just look at how the popularity of Airbnb, Uber and Deliveroo all grew using a similar peer-to-peer platform. While these companies all operate in very different industries, the way they have designed their businesses is a blueprint that other entrepreneurial ventures can replicate.
5. Think about similar companies overseas
Finally, if you want to branch out even further when it comes to looking for new opportunities, start to think about companies overseas.
Not only can this open up opportunities for the global expansion of your business, but it can also give you some ideas of how different customers in different countries react to products and services that are similar to yours.
For example, are companies abroad targeting completely different customers to you, are they offering additional value, and are they performing better than you?
Looking at other companies’ strategies can help you discover new ways of working and serving your customers.
It can also show you if there’s a market for your product or service in a new country, if there are customers who will be interested in your business, or if it would make logistical sense for you to expand into a new market.
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