Entrepreneurship

How Business Owners Can Spot A Gap In The Market

Cameron Fleming | 22 November 2021 | 2 years ago

How business owners can spot a gap in the market.Gaps in the market are what unicorns are made of. Not the white sparkling horse spouting rainbows but billion-dollar startups. Finding that magical gap in the market is the opportunity that entrepreneurs dream of. It’s an opportunity to innovate with an existing business or product or an opportunity to create a completely new solution.

Looking for gaps in the market haze

Gaps seldom fall into your lap. They need to be looked for or they need to be felt, to be experienced, e.g. the inconvenience of queues at banks versus the solution: banking apps. Let’s look at some ways of uncovering those goldmine gaps. Hopefully, this article will be part of many inspirational sources you leverage to distil that perfect gap solution – and change the projection of your career forever.

From trends to tweaking to choosing your problem – you can look at existing scenarios or be completely disruptive.

Gaps need innovation

Behind every success or growth milestone, there is innovation. Fresh eyes, fresh approaches and detachment from legacies drive success and keep competitors in your shadow.

Launching a one-of-a-kind idea and growing a company from it does not mean it will always maintain that title. The market catches up, or the market moves and demands change. This requires entrepreneurs to be agile and observant; else they will lose their competitive edge to competitors or complacency.

Observing trends and new releases

Trends are an obvious place to start as that is the market’s way of telling suppliers what they want. You will find a rich resource of bright, new and germane ideas as the global markets gallop into new directions, spewing dust clouds of trends.

Do you remember the days before selfie sticks? The selfie trend exploded worldwide, and someone noted the complaint about arms not being long enough. Enter selfie sticks and massive sales volumes of them. A camera (smart phone) at the end of a stick must have sounded crazy at first. So be open to receiving new concepts and grab them from the air as they fly by.

New releases – Just because a product is new on the market doesn’t mean it comes with all problems solved. Photography via the use of drones is becoming a firm favourite of professionals and amateurs. As more users come on board, they will find innovative ways of using this new product, for as they test the limits of its current boundaries, opportunities will open up. You’re not going to disrupt the market with an add-on to a drone, but you could still launch a big value-add. Consider renting out the equipment or offer a unique service and repair solution. Break the idea box down and look further.

When you observe those new ideas, how are you capturing them? On random bits of paper, or is there a system in place?

The global village at home

Being a digital nomad, you are probably travelling. In one of your destination cities, you could stumble across a fantastic idea that you wish was available back home. Who would have thought that gelato from Italy would find its way around the globe like it has – from the tip of Africa to Reykjavik in Iceland.

Look past the borders of your city, country or continent and seek inspiration from watching what the global village is doing.

If you are travelling, look at what other companies excel at in different countries and investigate why they are succeeding. Would it be feasible to replicate a business like theirs? Is it pertinent to your home context, and is there infrastructure available in your country to enable the idea?

Some of the biggest ideas in the market, like online sales and advertising classifieds, were ‘borrowed’ ideas from other countries.

There is a German startup incubator that uses this approach as its business model. Their financial reports reveal the repeated earnings of billions of dollars annually. How? They research global companies that are market leaders. Next, they copy the business model without breaking the law. Look internationally and you might find the portal to your unicorn stable.

Tweaking and twisting

Building on the theme of looking elsewhere for existing ideas supports the ethos that you do not have to have an original concept but a unique concept. Unique is what innovation is about, not original.

Find an idea already out there, do some tweaking and twisting, create your unique concept, and own it. We all know about a certain global hail-ride company that looked at an existing concept, tweaked it and thoroughly owned it. The idea of improving on paid transport for individuals was not on most peoples’ minds. They didn’t know they needed it. Now hailing a taxi via an app is de rigueur, tracking the taxi and time estimations are expected, and the brand is a household word. The business has not only done well in its local country but internationally as well.

That is a perfectly leveraged gap in the market.

Listen and act

When your head is swimming with ideas or you are running a company and juggling a to-do list from hell, taking time to stop and listen is not something you want to do. It could, however, be the source of some unicorn nuggets.

Your end-users will always give feedback – some of it compliments, some are complaints, and some are wishlist comments. The complaints and wishlist comments are where the nuggets hide. Be proactive, go out (physically or digitally) and request feedback from clients. Don’t rely only on the wishlist comments sent to you; ask for more ideas on how your product or service could be better. You could find an inspiring innovation in a humble comment from an end-user.

It might even be feedback left on a competitor’s social media. Consumers are demanding and know what they want. They might not spell it out in a blueprint design for your new business idea, but their discomfort or ‘want’ will be a neon light in the mist. Your innovation will turn it into a dazzling product.

Arrive at the thought precipice with an open mind and inspiration will find you. The markets are heaving with untapped ideas and new channels of business ideas to investigate.

Remember, when the possibility of a great idea comes into your sightline, trap it and add it to your database system of ideas. Develop it, test it and take a chance – your enterprise’s success depends on it.

Market gaps are important for a business’s longevity and growth.

Assess the competition and nail your USP

Do you know who the biggest competition to your brand in the market is? We hope you answered yes. Do you know what they are offering? Yes, again, of course.

What have you done to differentiate your brand from theirs? What is your USP?

Does your service (or product) give the consumer more value? Or a better customer experience (UX)? Do your slick processes make your brand more convenient?

Be certain that you don’t only focus on gaining knowledge on competitors but that you create a clear differentiation from them. This will give you a stronger hold of your market share and give you a clearer view of any gaps that might evolve.

Ask for options from third parties and consider getting feedback from the competition’s clients. Also, contact the clients that nearly bought from you but didn’t. What doubt, convenience or need of theirs was not addressed. Yes, this will take time.

What are the Gen Zers saying?

Today, some teenagers are becoming business innovators and CEOs of their own companies. They are speaking at business tech conferences and giving other Gen Zers startup advice.

That is because they are spotting market gaps and are then throwing themselves into researching the gap. They look for everything they can possibly find on Google, leverage their network, contact specialists, and then own the idea.

Gen Zers are perfectly positioned to spot the future’s challenges and are deeply immersed in the exponential technological disruption.

There are fifteen-year-old founders out there who have had their apps attract 1 million downloads in the first 30 days and then get bought by Yahoo.

These teenagers are using the tweak and twist system but innovating in some very traditional industries. Yet, your youth or seniority is of no consequence if you land on a brilliant idea. Look at the world with Gen Zer eyes and see the plethora of disruption gaps. Engage with young consumers; don’t always approach the oversubscribed market demographic.

Find a problem and solve it

What do you do in your daily life that bumps up against challenges or problems? There is a gap for you. Are you a cycling enthusiast and continue that habit into your daily commute to work? There must be challenges in your city or country for urban cyclists? Is it about being visible or is it about cycling lanes? Is there a need for work clothes that are more cycling orientated? Is there a need for safer cycling at night?

Find out what the rub points are and then dive deep into the research. You need to gain a deep understanding of the problem that you have identified. You can only add value if you provide a solution to a challenge about which you are a thought leader.

Keeping on with the cycling theme: talk to other cyclists, talk to the traffic department, discuss it with vehicle drivers, taxi drivers and public transport drivers. Are there town planners you can meet with or traffic flow experts? The clearer you are about the problem, the clearer your communication will be, and therefore the answers you get back will carry more value.

If it is cycling that you are passionate about then you will have the drive to achieve this. Your goal will be your inspiration and you will gain enjoyment from it, which is key.

Be tenacious

Creators are not usually solely equipped to take their innovative concepts from idea to launch as the framework, materials, software or other important components usually don’t exist yet. That is why it is unique. Don’t let that stop you.

Take time to research the materials, processes or technology that will enable your concept. Start simple with search engines, books and libraries and virtual courses. When you have attained a more sophisticated understanding of your products launch gap analysis, contact the experts who can make it happen. Harvard, MIT, NASA – go where you have not gone before. You will never have the knowledge, skills and network of professionals in those institutions, so leverage them as much as you can.

Don’t forget you’re human

You can be the best you can be, but being a creative person does not always translate into being a great managing director. You have to cut the apron strings at some stage and let business professionals run with your idea. Hire senior executives when you get your first seed funding. You are clearly brilliant at being creative so stay away from admin, business development and HR. Business executives with over a decade of experience will create stability and will speed up market traction.

By allowing others to help you to run your business will also avoid burnout and meltdowns. Don’t forget that you have a social circle and a loving family network. Also, don’t forget your health. Step away from the keyboard or factory and go to the gym, do a hobby or sleep to keep your valuable mind in prime condition. A burnt-out founder is a useless founder.

Conclusion

Above all else, choose something that makes you happy.

Keep your support network around you but acknowledge them even if time is not available for meetups.

When you catch your idea from the galloping markets, hone it until you feel it is at a stage that is good enough to present. Be proud of it before revealing it. Don’t worry, at this stage, about comparing it to the competition. Many ideas have been killed by the lack of belief from their creators. Hone it, present it, and listen to the feedback of third parties.

Good ideas combined with innovative design will always catch the interest of investors and the market. Now go put that gap sleuthing cap on!

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