Fix It, Revive It, Ride It

To succeed in business you have to fill unmet demand.

The greater the need, the bigger the opportunity.

Finding that demand is the trick. It’s not always easy to spot.

Here are three of the best places to look for opportunities:

Fix It (Something Broken)

If something important is broken, creating a solution is a great way to create a business opportunity for yourself.

The small business lending ecosystem through traditional banks is broken.

Crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo (founded by two former colleagues of mine) found a way to solve the broken funding model for small businesses and creative projects.

As Chris Guillebeau tells it (from his new $100 Startup book):

Shannon Oakey told me about going to her community bank to ask for a loan. She had all her finances in order and had supported the bank for many years, but they still turned her down. Shannon decided to do it herself through a Kickstarter campaign. She got more money than she needed and mailed a printout of the result, with a lollipop wrapped up inside, to the loan officer who turned her down.

Opportunity: find something severely broken and fix it.

Revive It (Something Forgotten)

Sometimes something isn’t badly broken, but it’s forgotten. If you can revive something old and overlooked, you might spark renewed interest and unearth demand.

What could be more boring and utilitarian than a thermostat?

As the people at Nest describe it:

We didn't think thermostats mattered either. Until we found out they control half of your energy bill.

They took something forgotten and made it incredibly sexy. By re-imagining the thermostat as a gorgeously designed, intelligent and easy-to-use device, they’ve revived interest, restarted an industry and created a hit product for themselves.

Opportunity: look for everyday items around you that could be revived with modern thinking.

Ride It (Something Hot)

If you can’t find something broken or forgotten to restore, there’s always the old standby in opportunities: jump on a hot trend and ride it.

Brett Kelly turned his love for and experience with Evernote into Evernote Essentials, an eBook that has sold over 12,000 copies. Evernote was a hot new application and there was unmet demand for a detailed guide.

Brett rode the wave of interest in Evernote, earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue, and even landed a position with the hot startup.

With technology changing so quickly, these opportunities are coming about more and more frequently. Just in the past several years we’ve seen social media, mobile device app development and online / social games each become massive opportunities.

The trick is spotting these trends at just the right time. Too early and demand isn’t great enough. Too late and you’ll have far too much competition.

Opportunity: find a hot trend you can ride to the top.

Where do you think is the best place to look for business opportunities? Share in the comments below.

P.S. You might notice there’s a new design here (if you’re reading this via email or in a feed reader, click here to see the new design). I hope you like it. I like to freshen things up from time to time. Thanks for reading.

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Hi, I’m Corbett Barr. I’ve been writing here since 2009. Join my email list for new articles about supporting yourself doing something you love: