This write-up was prepared as part of a lecture I delivered on entrepreneurship some years ago. I hope you will find it helpful. Please try and do the assignment given. Who knows? You may come-up with the next big thing like Facebook, Google and our own Hotels.ng. Have a wonderful read!
Business opportunities are everywhere but are usually in disguise, So you can only notice them when you pay close attention to the world around you and the people living in it. Today’s lecture will help you understand what business opportunities are and how to identify them.
I would like to explain the concept of business opportunity by looking at the definition of marketing. Marketing is not the same as advertising. It is a much broader concept. Unlike advertising, marketing starts even before the product is created.
Marketing is the process of identifying a need in the market, designing a product (good or service) capable of solving the identified need; pricing, promoting and distributing the product to the target customers through various channels. The underlined word “need” is the business opportunity we are talking about here. Businesses start having difficulties when they try to do things the other way round – i.e. creating a product and start looking for problems that the product can solve.
For an idea to qualify as a business opportunity, there must be four elements present, viz: a need, a means to fulfill the need, a method of applying the means to fulfill the need and a method to benefit the provider of the means (the provider of the means is the entrepreneur). In order words, for a need to qualify as a business opportunity, there must be a good or service that can satisfy that need, and the person providing the product should be able to enjoy financial reward for his efforts.
The key to identifying viable business opportunities is to focus on people’s pains and frustrations. In that way, they will be left with no choice other than paying you, if you are able to come up with a solution. Take yourself as an example. What are those products you need that are not readily available to you? Or the product is available but of poor quality or the process of accessing it is time consuming or inconveniencing. If others are experiencing the same problem, then you’ve just found a good business opportunity. The next issue would be that of having the resources, capability and most importantly the guts to solve the problem.
There are several ways of finding business opportunities. But in order not to confuse you, we’ll be looking at only three:
1. Identifying unmet customer needs. A customer need is unmet when it is important to the customer, but he/she is not satisfied with the solutions currently available or the solution is not available at all. The more important the need and the less satisfied the customer is, the greater the business opportunity.
Most successful businesses have capitalized on the pains, struggles and challenges of people. They were able to achieve success by identifying what the problems were and proffering solutions to them. Since you may not have the funds to hire a market research firm to survey the market, the best option available to you is to sample peoples opinion. Talk to friends and family members to find out what their problems, needs or challenges are. The internet is also a good source to discover what goods and services people are looking for.
Let me share with you how I came up with the idea of a CV writing business I established two years ago. In 2011, a friend approached me to help him write a CV and cover letter. According to him, he has submitted applications to over 20 companies without hearing a word from them. As at then, I did not even have a CV myself. I scrutinized his CV but couldn’t see any reason he wasn’t getting interviews. So, I sacrificed a couple of hours of my time to do a little research on the current trends in CV, Resume and cover letter writing. That was when my eyes were opened to the mistakes on his CV. I restructured his CV and to my surprise, He was invited for an interview within a month.
Few months later, when I went to the cyber café, before my very eyes, a young lady paid three thousand naira to one of the attendants to help her prepare a CV. In my curiosity, I waited to see the finished results, and it was not even as good as what I wrote for my friend for FREE. I then asked the attendant how often he gets to write CVs for people, and he said, “Almost every day. When business is good, I even write up to three in one day.” That was when it occurred to me that I could make good money by offering the same service. Prior to this incident, I never knew people paid money to get their CV written. The rest is history. Today my CV writing service is recognized as a leader in the CV writing industry in Nigeria.
2. Identifying inefficiencies in an existing product or service. You can also source for business opportunities by looking out for good ideas that have not been effectively executed. People value quality products. They also like speedy delivery and convenience. So, If you are able to improve on the quality of an existing product or the process of delivering the product to the customers, you may be in business soon.
3. Import an existing product or service into an untapped market. Lookout for products that were successful in a different geographical location. Maybe you’ve traveled to a different city or town and seen a product (good or service) that is selling very well and is not being offered where you live. You can do some research to see how you can successfully introduce it as something “new” in your area.
Business opportunities come and go. Just like time, they wait for no one. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you should always lookout for problems experienced by people or businesses. When you finally spot one you have the resources to solve, don’t hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity immediately. Otherwise, someone else will do it.
1. List ten companies and identify the type of opportunity they leveraged upon to break into the Nigerian market.
Hint: introduced an entirely new product into a new market, improved an existing product or introduced an existing product into an untapped market
Also explain briefly.
MTN – introduced an entirely new product into a new market. MTN was the first company to introduce mobile communication a.k.a. GSM into the Nigerian market.
2. Pick any town or city of your choice. Identify at least five (05) major problems affecting the residents of the town or city. Are you sure these people are willing to pay for a solution? Which of these problems do you have the resources to solve? Why do you think you will succeed? What threats are you likely to face in this business and what measures will you put in place to minimize their effects on your business?