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How to Find the Right Business Opportunity

Finding the right business opportunity depends on two important questions to ask yourself: Is there a gap in the market? And am I the right person to fill the gap?

Greg Fisher

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Market Demand

The starting point for sourcing an opportunity is to look for a gap in a market. You need to find a set of customers who are under-served and looking for a particular product or service to fill a need. By becoming aware of people’s under-served needs, you can develop an opportunity-oriented mindset.

In order to foster this mindset, it is useful to engage in these practices:

1. Observe. Whether you’re driving in your car, walking down the street or sitting in a café, look for people who are under-served.

2. Write. Keep an “ideas”notebook. Write down business thoughts and ideas as they come to you throughout the day. Then every once in a while, take some time out reflect on what you have jotted down. Eliminate bad ideas, link ideas with potential and build on good ideas.

3. Discuss. Engage in exploratory chats with other people. Talk to your grandparents, the cleaning lady or whoever else will open up to share with you about where they are frustrated and have an under-served need.

4. Explore. Explore trends and concepts in overseas markets and take time to examine what’s happening in industries with which you’re unfamiliar. Raymond Ackerman gleaned his ideas for Pick ‘n Pay from the retail trends abroad, while the Kulula.com concept was based on the model of Southwest Airlines (USA)and EasyJet (Europe).

Effectively combining these practices will provide you with a diverse set of ideas. These ideas must be refined and researched. In your initial research you should attempt to gauge:

  • The size of the market. How big is the market and is there room for another competitor?
  • The likely competitors in the market. Who are the competitors and how are my ideas different from what they do?
  • Is it possible to reach the customer. Can I get to the customer to sell and distribute the product or service?

This quick market research will give you a base off which to make more informed judgments about where there is and isn’t a gap in the market.

Passion

Building a business around an activity or a product about which you are passionate can give you a huge advantage. Firstly, being passionate about your product or service increases your ability and confidence to sell it to others.
Secondly, passion for the product or service makes it easier to endure the tough times of building a business. If you’re doing something that has meaning and purpose, you are far more likely to persevere when others would give up.
Thirdly, being passionate about your product or service means you’ll be more inclined to build your skills, expertise and understanding of the particular product or service you’re selling. It is easier to build and sustain the energy required to grow a business if you have a passion for what you’re doing. Link the potential business ideas to your personal passions for the most positive results.

Skills

Most people have a unique skill or skills they’ve developed during their lifetime. Using it can give you a competitive advantage insetting up your business. Write down the things you are good at and consider how you could use any of those skills to develop any of the business ideas you’ve generated. After all, Bill Gates used his skill in programming in the early days of Microsoft and Paul Simon used his training in clothing design when creating YDE.

Resources

As you review ideas, think about what resources you have at your disposal that will give you a head start when implementing that idea.Effective entrepreneurs leverage the opportunities that arise from the resources they have access to. They use their network of connections to source appropriate resources and always think of alternatives, asking”what else can we do?” when they encounter obstacles due to lack of resources.
Finding an entrepreneurial opportunity can be exciting. It is inspiring and motivating to imagine what could be as you consider the possibilities of turning the right opportunity into a sustainable business. Central to finding the right opportunity is the market demand- and the market demand should be exploited by an entrepreneur with the right passion, skills and resources.

Key questions to sourcing the right opportunity:

  1. What do people need?
  2. Who will buy it?
  3. Why do they want it?
  4. How can I reach them?
  5. What am I deeply passionate about?
  6. How can I leverage my unique skills?
  7. Where can I get the resources to make it happen?

Greg Fisher, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Management & Entrepreneurship Department at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. He teaches courses on Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Turnaround Management. He has a PhD in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington in Seattle and an MBA from the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). He is also a visiting lecturer at GIBS.

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Got An Awesome New Business Idea? Here’s What To Do Next

If you’re stuck in the brainstorming stage, the first step is to focus on two questions: ‘Why?’ and ‘Who?’

Syed Balkhi

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Business Idea

Do you constantly have great business ideas which fall to the wayside because you just don’t know how to turn those daydreams into reality? If you’re stuck in the brainstorming stage, that’s probably because you don’t know what to do next.

Around 550 000 people, according to the Kauffman start-up index, become entrepreneurs each month and you could be one of them. While there’s no guaranteed formula to starting a successful business, there are steps to take in the planning phase that will not only help you determine if your business idea has what it takes but help you get the ball rolling, too.

Sound like you? Here’s what to do next.

Determine the “why” and the “who”

The first step to take after you’ve come up with a new business idea is to concentrate on the “why” and “who” of it. You may think you’ve thought up an awesome idea, but your business won’t be successful if you don’t know the real reasons behind why it’s a good solution, and whom it would be a good solution for.

Start to really think about what problem your business idea solves. Your business may solve a problem for you, but does it solve a problem for others? If nobody else has the problem that your business proposes a solution for, then who will buy that solution?

After you’ve taken a deep dive into why your business is needed in the first place, determine who will be the target audience of your business. Think about the demographics of your target audience, what’s important to these people and how you will reach them. You can use a free tool like Hubspot’s Make My Persona to get detailed about who your ideal customers are. A business isn’t a business without customers, after all.

Related: 10 Business Ideas Ready To Launch!

Search for similar solutions

No business idea is 100 percent unique; there will always be businesses out in the world that are similar to yours. So, don’t sweat it if there are companies doing what you do; in fact, that proves there’s a market for what you do. What you do have to think about is who your competition will be, what exactly they are providing and what you will do differently or better than they do.

To stand out from the competition, you will need to know what sets you apart. Start doing research on the companies that could become your competition. Look at how much they charge, who their target audience is and how they market to them, to name just a few research points. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, but do look at what these companies are lacking in and how you can improve upon those areas in your business, so that you capture their customers.

Talk to your potential customers

Similar to your efforts to study your potential competition should be your effort to study potential customers. Get out there and start talking with your target audience. See if your product or service is something they would use, find out how much they would pay for it and ask what comparable product or business they’re using now to solve the problem.

You could even get super in-depth and ask people to fill out a survey providing answers that will help you get to know your audience even better. Even negative feedback about your business idea can help you refine your idea.

Lock down the details of your business

Coming up with a new business idea is exciting; your mind is probably buzzing with lots of plans and designs – maybe too many. So, sit back and lock down the finer details of your business. Will you be offering a product or a service? How much will it cost? How will you be marketing your business? You need to know your new business concept inside and out before you launch. A great and easy way to organise your thoughts is to use a business plan software like LivePlan.

Also, if you haven’t named your business yet, now’s the time to do it. Do some brainstorming and come up with a name that no one else has already taken.

Related: 20 Quick Money-Making Business Ideas

Determine the “how”

After you’ve worked out all the details of your future business, the next step is to figure out how to turn your dream into a reality. Obviously starting a business costs quite a bit of money, so that’s one of the major “how” factors you need to consider. Decide if you’ll talk to investors, take out a loan, or maybe even start a Kickstarter campaign.

Determine everything you’ll need to get your business up and running. For instance, if you’re offering a product, how will you build it and how much money will it cost? This last step is one of the most important in order to take your business from out of your head and into the real world.

Over to you

What are you waiting for? By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to starting your very own company. If you take the time to plan out your new business idea, you won’t just build a business, you’ll build a successful one.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Why Entrepreneurs Are Constantly Distracted (And 6 Ways To Fight Back)

Once thrown off track, a worker needs 23 minutes, on average, to get back to the original task. What could you have done in that 23 minutes?

Anna Johansson

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distraction

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you find yourself struggling with distractions on a regular basis. Whether it’s an email notification, a meeting or a new emergency to deal with, every distraction can potentially pull you away from whatever project you’re working on. And that’s not good because, according to Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, “Once thrown off track, it can take some 23 minutes for a worker to return to the original task.”

So, why are entrepreneurs so susceptible to distraction and what steps can they – and you – take to fight back against this vulnerability?

The susceptibility of entrepreneurs

Here are just a few of the reasons why entrepreneurs are more prone to distraction than other professionals:

The entrepreneurial mind. Entrepreneurs are innovators and thinkers by nature. They often specialise in multiple disciplines, and are forced to deal with problems in multiple departments at once. This style of thinking lends itself to multitasking and “shiny object syndrome,” the tendency to jump quickly from one focus to another.

Busy environments. Startups are notoriously busy. There’s a lot to do and not many people to do it, so entrepreneurs are forced to step in and juggle multiple responsibilities at once. Subordinates and partners may also need frequent assistance, with tasks like attendance at meetings or clarification on the plans they devise.

Tech tools. Entrepreneurs also frequently invest in high-tech tools to make them more efficient (and help them keep up with the competition), but those tools in and of themselves can also be distracting. For example, your smartphone ensures you’re always connected, but its constant notifications can pull you away from your most important responsibilities.

Related: Distractions Are Hurting You More Than You Realise: Here’s Why

How to stay focused

So, what can you do to improve your focus? Here are six ideas:

1. Try focus apps. While technology can hinder your ability to stay focused, it can also enhance it if you know what to do. Try downloading focus-oriented apps that have the power to block out distractions for you. Some apps allow you to create schedules, so you can block access to certain apps or websites outside of certain parameters.

Others allow you to set timers and gain more visibility into how you’re spending your time. Either way, this technology can improve your focus and diligence.

2. Do one thing at a time. It’s tempting to work on multiple projects at the same time, especially when you have tight deadlines to work with, but it’s universally better to focus on one thing at a time. Jeff Bezos, for example, avoids multitasking at all costs, instead narrowing his focus to one problem or one task before moving on to the next one. This requires tremendous self-discipline in some cases, but once you’re used to the process, it becomes easier.

3. Disconnect periodically. Many modern distractions are rooted to the technology we use or to our proximity to other people. We get a phone call, an email, an instant message notification or even a knock on our door, and our focus is completely broken.

To remedy this, schedule specific hours during the day (or days during the week) when you can disconnect entirely and focus on your work. During this time, turn off notifications and let your staff know that you’re unavailable; then, you can work heads-down as you see fit.

Related: 6 Keys to Employee Engagement During Times of Distraction

4. Know what your secondary priorities are. You’ll always have a long list of things to accomplish and tasks to complete, but you can’t make everything a top priority. Instead, spend time deciding what your secondary and less important priorities are.

Warren Buffett, for example, keeps a “not to do list” that keeps track of things worth pursuing that aren’t worthy at a specific time of his focus, his time or his budget. Staying organised this way can help remind you what’s most important and keep you from spending too much time on those secondary priorities.

5. Specialise instead of generalise. Also consider how you’re spending your time and optimise it so you spend more time doing what you do best. Elon Musk, for example, has stated that “At Tesla, we’ve never spent any money on advertising. We’ve put all our money into R&D, engineering, design and manufacturing to build the best car possible. When we consider spending money, we ask, ‘Will this create a better product?’ If not, we don’t proceed with spending the money.”

6. Consider hiring an assistant or delegating responsibilities. This way, you can focus on tasks that have the highest value and you aren’t distracted when doing them.

It takes time to break your bad habits and create an environment necessary to work distraction-free (or as close to distraction-free as you can get), but it’s worth the investment of time and money. Don’t let chronic distractions sabotage your chances of finding success.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Enterprise Supplier Development (ESD) Provides Opportunity For Entrepreneurs

LFP Training offers ESD support services such as the implementation of sustainable supplier development programmes, profiling and analysis of your supplier database, enabling procurement opportunities for EME’s through collaboration and partnerships and promoting the upskilling of EMEs and facilities the quality of services provided.

Jacolien Botha

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enterprise-development

LFP Training’s team spends a lot of time educating businesses on the benefits of BEE. As an entrepreneurial venture, the company understands that you have worked hard to build your brand and as such, BEE should strengthen your position the market.

AJ Jordaan, LFP Training’s National Sales Manager says that while Skills Development remains the most cost-effective, productive and mutually beneficial way to gain points whilst improving the performance of your staff, ESD is too a critical component of the scorecard.

“By partnering with a BEE compliant business, companies can claim additional points towards Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD),” says AJ.

Both ESD and Skills Development initiatives cover large portions of the scorecard in total so it’s vital to score well overall. “Furthermore, ESD is one of the priority elements of BEE and failing to comply with the subminimum requirements will result in your company being discounted a level”.

In a country where entrepreneurship is recognised as a catalyst for growth, ESD helps small businesses to thrive by gaining access to opportunities through its attractive BEE status. “This in turn helps to ensure the sustainability and success of such businesses in South Africa”.

ESD is a combination of preferential procurement, supplier diversity and development and enterprise development programs used to service a business’s needs.

Trading has never been more attractive and ESD contributions can take on many forms. “While some people are still very cynical about BEE, ESD is not based on the value of a contract given to a black business but rather the contributions towards technical help, the transfer of knowledge and skills, operating cash flow, loans and/or investments.”

AJ does warn that while this is a great benefit of being compliant, in an instance where two companies supply the exact same service, the company with the higher BEE recognition will most likely secure the business. “Here, a customer will partner with the company with a higher rating as they earn more points towards preferential procurement under ESD.”

“Today we are seeing some companies penalising a supplier when dropping a level as it influences their scores on ESD so its once again vital to maintain your current BEE level or to improve” AJ continues.

“There are a host of benefits to making sure that businesses align their efforts to compliant businesses, these include; an improved BEE rating, gaining a competitive advantage and reducing costs, supporting a compliant business, a strong and positive association for your business with a compliant business” says AJ.

LFP Training offers ESD support services such as the implementation of sustainable supplier development programmes, profiling and analysis of your supplier database, enabling procurement opportunities for EME’s through collaboration and partnerships and promoting the upskilling of EMEs and facilities the quality of services provided.

Read next: Enterprise Development Programmes For Black Entrepreneurs

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