Young: Three ways to identify an entrepreneurial opportunity

Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity—it looks zany when I see this word typed three times in a row, but there is nothing funny about not recognizing your “window of opportunity” for a new entrepreneurial venture.

Let’s acknowledge that an opportunity is an idea worth pursuing, that an entrepreneur is that person who looks for solutions to perceived problems in the business marketplace.

If you look up the word opportunity, you will find a definition similar to this: “…a favourable or advantageous circumstance or combination thereof.”

However, if seen through the eyes of an entrepreneur, the definition may look more like this: “…a favourable set of circumstances that creates a need for a new product, service or venture itself.”

Reality sets in when we accept that an entrepreneurial opportunity may not be that easy to spot right away.

You must be sure it’s  just a different version of something somebody else is already doing in the marketplace.

A common mistake I have discovered is choosing a product or service that is already available and then trying to build a better version of it.

While this approach may make some sense to  logical thinkers, it does not always work for the newbie entrepreneur.

Better to consider a product or service that people lack and thus are willing to purchase not one that you wish to sell because you like it.

There is a clear difference between an idea and an opportunity. It is important to understand that an idea may not meet the standards of an acceptable opportunity. So, before you get all juiced up on your new idea, it is very important to know if the idea fills the wants and needs of the market and thus meets the genuine opportunity criteria.

Let’s take a look at three ways to identify and entrepreneurial opportunity.

1.Observing Trends

Economic and social factors, political action, technology advances and regulatory statutes are the most important trends to monitor.

You can do this on your own closely or pay an independent research firm to provide you with trend forecasts and market analysis.

A critical economic factor, for example, is looking at who has the money to spend.  Plus, people are more willing to buy products and services that enhance their lives.

It is not a big secret today that people are busy and often don’t have the time or inclination to get things done that needs to be done.

Here are a few categories that could provide opportunities related to social factors:

• family and work patterns

• age of the population

• increasing diversity in the workplace

• increasing focus on fitness and health care

• computers and the Internet

• mobile technology.

Unquestionably, advances in technology co-exist with social and economic factors to create real entrepreneurial opportunities.

Fortunate or not, new laws, political instability and global terrorism have all provided a new set of venture opportunities, a good example would be the need for more advanced security for companies and governments looking to protect physical assets and intellectual property.

2. Solving A Problem

In your quest to recognize entrepreneurial opportunities, you must find an existing problem in the marketplace and actually solve it.

You may find such problems through observing challenges everyday people encounter in their lives, by your intuition or merely, by chance.

A large amount of problem solving that goes on is a result of personal problems or challenges that someone has in their own lives.

Haven’t you ever thought there must be a better way to do that which is driving you crazy? Well, maybe there isn’t a better way, so do the research.

A forever trait among entrepreneurs is that they always seek problems and that which will inspire them to seek solution.

3. Finding Gaps in the Marketplace

This involves the ability to recognize a need that is not being met in a customer’s life.

These gaps can be hard to identify but can be potentially very rewarding. This is the world where the “niche market” exists.

Giant superstores like Walmart and Superstore have become a staple in our lives and try to have just about anything and everything our hearts may desire, but the reality is they can’t possibly do that.

A niche market is a place within a larger market that represents a narrower group of people with similar interests.

It covers the not so usual products in a boutique shop, to the service that doesn’t even exist as yet.

A good example of this might be the fitness workout chain Curves.

Founded in 1992. Curves  is a fitness centre that caters just to women.

Curves is targeted at a  segment of the market being ignored by traditional workout centers—overweight, middle aged women. That is a gap that opened up an entrepreneurial opportunity.


Joel Young has teamed up with Shaw Cable to produce a new show called Fire Within Entrepreneurship, which will be broadcast on Shaw Cable 11 on Monday and Wednesday, 4, 5:30 and 9:30 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.

The focus of the program will be on local entrepreneurial success stories.

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