Where are business opportunities hiding? In plain sight.
Updated: Jan 18, 2020
It’s not about where you have to hunt and scour to identify opportunities for your business, it’s about seeing and snagging the opportunities as they fly past you. We use these five lenses when looking for business opportunities.
Opportunities for your business to grow, expand, or cut costs are around us all the time. And you might have seen your competitor or neighbor suddenly capitalize on a new product, venture or technology. Why did they do it and you didn’t? What did you miss? What do they have access to that you just don’t?
In our experience, it’s not about having access to resources that no one else has. Or about doing something entirely new and innovative. It’s about watching the market, monitoring the trends, and adapting technology to fit your bottom line.
These are the five areas we examine with clients stay on top of opportunities:
Global Industry Trends
“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.” – Richard Branson
Global Industry Trends
When things shift at a national or global level, regulatory changes, economic factors, and consumer or business habits cause a trickle-down effect on your business. Now, that’s not new. And most businesses that see the immediate effects of these changes can map how these trends impact them and what strategies they should implement to combat or take advantage of the shift. However, when the impact is more delayed, by several months or even years, the causes are harder to identify, manage and plan for.
In early 2020, U.S. businesses face the impacts from the tariff hikes on specialty European agricultural products. Things like cheese, wine and olives will take a big hit across the board and it won’t just be importers and consumers at the supermarkets that will be affected.
Restaurants and food-industry players, specifically in areas that rely on harder to find goods from other countries to differentiate themselves in a saturated market, will be impacted as they struggle to keep prices competitive and continue to stock high-quality goods. Read more about how it might affect areas like Portland here.
Things are constantly in flux, so be sure to follow industry-specific news sources, set google alerts for key terms related to your business and, in general, keep your ear to the ground.
Wanting to dig a little deeper? Here are our top tips:
Follow trends regularly, and when something significant (or even seemingly insignificant) changes on your radar, flag it
When changes happen within your business, trace backward for reasons that may have contributed to that, and don’t overlook impacts on a global level
If your business is at all directly or indirectly involved with regulatory bodies, watch international regulations closely to see where trends may translate to something closer to home for you (i.e. European regulations later adopted to the U.S.)
"Don't be left on the side wondering what you could have done. Be proactive."
Customer & Stakeholder Shifts
Customer’s needs change, and when they do, you need to be ready to listen and act agilely. Talk to your current customers, but also talk to your past customers (why are they no longer with you?) and your potential customers (what factors are contributing to their decision?)
The global trends we mentioned above can affect you and the people you sell to. If you are seeing shifts in the consumption of your goods or service, look to your customers. Are they changing their provider? Are they focusing on different categories of goods? Communicate with your customers regularly to understand how their consumption might change so you can proactively work to keep business and maintain market share.
Other socio-cultural factors can impact customer decision-making and shifts here could mean it's time better align your priorities. Many stakeholders are placing substantial value on sustainability initiatives, including a company’s commitment to a sustainable future in their operations. And even previously unaffected industries, like grocery stores and car parts are seeing trends towards online sales. Don’t miss the signs, don't forget about your customers' priorities and don’t wait on your digital presence. It takes a long time to build.
You’ve heard the age-old adage, keep your friends close but your enemies closer. And keeping an eye on your competition isn’t news, but there are some key factors we want you to be sure you consider as you build your competitive intelligence.
Your competitors likely don’t have your exact same customer base, and even if there is overlap between you and your direct or indirect competitors customers, you are certainly offering marginally or substantially different products or services. However, how your competition is interacting with customers can influence their views on your products/services or execution.
It's okay to be a second-mover in your industry and it's often a good idea to offer the same product categories as your competitors. Just make sure your competitive edge stays strong. Whether it's superior goods, speed of service or price, you can't maintain your value propositions if you don't know what's happening next door.
Our global tech consumption changes not yearly or monthly, but daily. And tech applications are expanding across industries. Instead of sticking to the obvious avenues for tech growth, such as an update to your website or better workstations for your employees, you should be asking yourself where you can utilize drones in your operation. Where can videos shared on a cloud within your company reduce communication overhead and cut costs?
Stay clued-in on tech news to determine where you can incorporate entirely new technologies or make new use out of older tech. Update your communication system. Take advantage of real-time data. Incorporate AI into your quoting. And please update your website.
Looking at your employees for growth seems simple. To grow, you need more of them. They need to maximize their time at work for productivity and good people and stronger teams mean more bang for your buck. And where all of that is correct, we would encourage you to utilize your people to grow in intrapreneurship and innovation.
When you develop a culture of ideas, innovation and value in solving problems creatively, you will build an organization that created opportunities instead of just watching for them.