Am I an Entrepreneur, Blog Series 2 of 3

Train Yourself to Recognize Business Opportunities

This is the second of three blog posts which cover opinions, ideas, some facts, and suggestions for getting through each of these questions: Am I an entrepreneur? What idea am I pursuing?  Can I make money?

We know that these three topics for the nascent entrepreneur could hold one hostage for months. Can I?  Should I? Could I?  The next topic in this series is on ideas:

What idea am I interested in pursuing?

Let me assume that you do not have a clear idea for a business, and you are just not confident with your ideas, anyway.  Let’s turn to Idea generation and opportunity recognition.

So how do you find ideas?  Where do you find ideas?  Watch this great TED talk on this topic.

The success in recognizing opportunity lies in asking the questions about what is missing or what could be better. I know successful entrepreneurs who carry around a notepad and they jot down every problem they see or experience.  Let’s briefly and quickly walk through an example of a day and see how many problems an individual may encounter.

Let’s call this person JT. JT gets up, but realizes he is running late to work.  He runs to catch the bus, and it starts raining but he doesn’t have an umbrella.  He finally gets to work and realizes his shoes are scuffed up.

Lunchtime comes and he doesn’t have any idea where to go for a quick lunch.

On his way home from work, he remembers he needed some items for his dinner, but forgot what they were. He thought he might have written them in his phone, but he realizes the phone battery is dead.

He arrives home and this night is particularly dark and he doesn’t have his porch light on so he fumbles to unlock his door.

How many problems in this short scenario did you identify?  I saw at least 8.  Eight different problems or pain points where a solution could be applied to make JT’s life easier.

Depending on which problem you want to solve, it could be a major issue such as running late, or the phone battery dies before the end of the day, or a minor one such as not knowing where to go for lunch. Of these 8 problems, which of these problems weigh more heavily on a person and really needs a solution that someone would pay to have it alleviated?

Since problems are potential opportunities, we can also look in the broader society.  Aging, education, transportation and mobility of others, entertainment, food, health.  The list of issues in society today are numerous, but for you the opportunity is limited by your ability to solve a need that people want.

Your ideas should start with what you know, and what you can do.

Another way to approach opportunities is to look within your own daily life. Do you have a hobby, a side project you always love to work on?  Do you think others would be interested in it?  Building furniture, shelves, chairs; collecting rugs, old jewelry, paintings, antiques; cooking, coming up with new recipes, writing?

How can you turn your skill into a solution to someone’s problem?

This is an important concept for you to understand:  solving someone’s problem.

Let me give you an example. Do you take a vitamin?  Do you take meds to manage a health issue?  The vitamin is certainly helpful to your health, providing extra nutrients, but not needed, only good to have.  The medication is something you need to take to manage your health.  If you stopped your blood pressure medication, you might have serious effects.

As an entrepreneur you would rather solve a serious problem where the consumer needs the solution you want to provide. This will give you a better chance for success. You won’t have to spend big money just to “convince” your potential customer that they need your solution.  Read this article for further thoughts on this concept.

Here is an exercise you can do.  Generate a list of problems that you encounter or see others experiencing.  Write down what you believe could be a solution.  Generate 10 problems with at least 1 solution, but preferably two for each problem.  Write them down.  This is just an exercise to help you begin to train for problem solution recognition.

For more information on idea generation, click on these resources, Validating Your Ideas.

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