In the last few weeks, we discussed the four factors that lead to successful idea generation and implementation; sensitivity to the market; dissatisfaction with the status quo; shared goals; and trust as the single most important success factor. “Where’s the opportunity?” you might ask. For some, opportunity knocks. For the rest of us, it hides and we have to uncover it. Management guru Peter Drucker examined purposeful innovation before it became a common corporate goal. “The entrepreneur’s job is to pursue systematic, purposeful innovation.” – Peter Drucker How do you get started? Keep it simple. Start small: Don’t try to change the world in one day. Stay focused. And look out for these seven sources of opportunity:
- Look out for the unexpected, maybe even forgotten. Stay close to the emerging world of consumers and explore products and services that suddenly catch on and become omnipresent. Look out for unexpected trends, such as the constant need for convenience and less friction. How are you going to answer that?
- Watch for discrepancies. Where is there a difference between what is and what ought to be, marked by widespread dissatisfaction? This is where your opportunity lies. Uber made the cab ride more convenient and gave the consumer control over the process. Can you mitigate dissatisfaction?
- Be very close to industry and market structure. Think more like an entrepreneur. What changes in regulations and work structures allow you to elbow your way in? When there’s a small opening, how are you going to benefit from it?
- Understand demographics. Shifts in population result in psychographic movement and cultural quakes. Don’t just focus on Millennials: Generation X and Boomers are changing, too. New business niches are opening up because demographics are changing.
- Fill a process need. Eliminating a bottleneck is a big strength of the digital space. Airbnb made it easy for everyone to rent out and lease a private space – they made it an almost frictionless process.
- Find new knowledge first. Sometimes it’s smart to be a late adopter. Other times, you need to be an early leader. New inventions attract many new and old competitors. There’s a period of time when entrepreneurship explodes and then there’s a phase of creative destruction that destroys most of the startups. After that period, it’s almost impossible to enter this new market. You need to be timely with your initiative.