Key to identifying business opportunities

A key question that all would-be entrepreneurs face is finding the business opportunity that is right for them. Should the new startup focus on introducing a new product or service based on an unmet need? Should the venture select an existing product or service from one market and offer it in another where it may not be available? Or should the firm bank on a tried and tested formula that has worked elsewhere, such as a franchise operation?

 The question that confronts anybody who is thinking of starting a new business or company is, how do you find the opportunity that’s right for you?  There are many sources for new venture opportunities for individuals. Whenever we see inefficiency in the market, and  have an idea of how to correct that inefficiency, and we have the resources and capability to correct that inefficiency — that itself could be a very interesting business idea. In addition, if we see a product or service that is being consumed in one market and that product is not available in another market, one can  import that product or service, and start that business in a new market.

Many sources of ideas also come from existing businesses, such as franchises.  Perhaps the most promising source of ideas for new business comes from customers — listening to customers. That is something we ought to do continuously in order to understand what customers want, where they want it, how they want a product or service supplied, when they want it supplied, and at what price. There is no substitute for understanding the unmet needs of customers. That will allow one  to discover whether he/she is able to address those needs, at the price customers want to pay, and if one can still make a profit.

In the age of the Internet, there is no shortage of examples of entrepreneurs who started a company based on a perceived need. We could go back to the beginning of E-Bay, where they saw an opportunity to connect people through launching a virtual flea market. It offered a platform that connected buyers and sellers directly.

The first step that everyone should go through is to ask the question, is the market real? In order to do so, the first thing one needs to do is conduct what we call a customer analysis. One can do that perhaps in a very technical way, by conducting surveys. Or perhaps, in a less technical way, by attempting to answer the following questions:

 “Who is my customer?”

 What does the customer want to buy?

When does the customer want to buy?

What price is the customer willing to pay?

So, asking the “W questions” — who, where, what, when — is the first step. At the end of the day, the one thing every entrepreneur is looking for is revenue, and the revenue will come from customers. That is why one needs to be sure about the target market.

Opportunity identification is the most crucial element in the entrepreneurial journey .In the last five to six years,the start-up scenario has seen a lot of activity and has blossomed into a key contributor to the country’s entrepreneurial journey.Majority of the start-ups have identified business opportunities by addressing various problems that people in India are facing or by identifying percieved. Starting from solving household management problems to organisational management, start-ups today have come up with solutions on almost every dynamics of human life. An analysis of the type of start-ups that have come up in the recent past will reveal that the business ideas have been generated basically by identifying a problem and providing a solution to the problem. Few such examples in various sectors is cited below

  • India’s first professional matrimony-Promatch ,is a Linkedin based matrimonial platform.The problem identified by the startup was difficulty in finding a life partner by young boys and girls who come and settle in metros and have no family circle for marriage referrels .Moreover,most dating apps are unreliable and matrimony sites old fashioned.
  • b) Just Verified’ is a startup for background check.The problem identified is  extensive problem of fraud and forgery cases.This startup physically checks backgrounds and KYCs such as education,criminal,matrimonial etc.The startup works all over India and the App can be downloaded from a mobile store.
  • c)’ New Delhi Financials’ is a transparent and secure platform that delivers credit.The problem identified was-short term money comes really expensive and it is often a humbling experience to ask for money from the local shylock.The app is ‘Bhamashah’.The app will soon provide facilities like salary discounting etc
  • ‘ Organic Harvest’ is a skin care startup which is one of the very few domestic player amongst a host of international brands.The business opportunity was identified by understanding the customer segment that is intelligent and more aware and keen to use natural and organic products that have natural ingredient and nutritional value.
  •  ‘Rohit Jafa Brewing’ solution is a startup in the microbrewery business which identified the opportunity of commissioning breweries  across the country.
  •  ‘Brick and Click’ grocery venture gives the customers the option to come to the store or order through web portal,mobile app or call centre
  • ‘ Varchasva Energy Private Ltd’ is a startup in the solar energy sector which provides roof top solutions.The business opportunity was identified by realising governments initiative for providing solar solutions
  •  Online platforms for specific product categories  like  a startup named ‘Telephone Shoppe’ have come up to  provide online platform for mobile and mobile accessories. Similarly a startup named ‘Silgo’ is an online Jewellery brand.These product specific online solutions have come up to facilitate online shopping of customers
  • HR Management Consultancy startup ‘Shreem Mantra’ manages the recruitment life cycle of candidates.The business opportunity was identified by understanding the HR departments  problems in managing candidates in the initial phase after joining
  • Similarly business opportunities in the health conscious segment has been identified by start-ups like ‘Satvaras’ –a juice cold pressed startup which provides juice with nutritious and natural items and delivered fresh.There are other start-ups which provide natural health food energy bars.  Startup like ‘Brand Granary’ provides snacks for the health conscious urban population which have 40% less oil but does not compromise on taste.
  • ‘ Vastu Kalp’ – a startup in the fortune telling business uses Vastu Sankhya Yantra to resolve issues without demolition
  •  Startups have also come up provide personalised care and education to children with disabilities.’Mindseed Mantra’is a startup providing support to Dyselexic children
  •  In the legal field,start-ups like ‘Legal Wiz’ provides one stop solution for processing business services which are commonly rendered by CA/CS/Lawyers

The most frequent mistake that people tend to make in identifying a business opportunity is to think everybody in the market is like them. If they like the product, everybody else will. Sometimes — too often — entrepreneurs, and especially entrepreneurs with an engineering background, are too focused on the engineering features or technology features of the particular product, rather than on the need that they are trying to fulfill. Customers don’t buy technology. Customers buy products that add value. Customers buy products that they need, in order to satisfy some issue that they wish to satisfy.

People are often hesitant to start new businesses, because they think they don’t have the characteristics of what would make for a successful entrepreneur. A common mindset is that it is too risky to be an entrepreneur. Research however shows there are no unique characteristics, or traits, that distinguish entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs, and successful entrepreneurs from unsuccessful entrepreneurs. In the present  globalised world and market economy, the perception that working for a large company is somehow safer ,is no longer relevant. The time is now right to get started.

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