Opportunities are Everywhere
“You don’t get anything. You have to earn it.” This quote from Marcus could not be any truer when it comes to running a business. Being an entrepreneur is challenging work; but if you have a great product and have a passion for what you do, the world is eventually going to fall in love with it too.
But, maybe you haven’t seen your growth happening as quickly as you’d like. Perhaps you thought you’d be raking in the dough by now only to find yourself falling short of your goals. Or, maybe your business is doing just fine, but you want to go even further and reach a higher plateau. In any case, finding new business opportunities is the key to writing a new chapter in a small business’s life. In this lesson, we’ll explain how to identify big breaks and growth points and how to jump on them when you need to. You just have to keep your eyes open.
Spot Your Big Breaks and Make Them a Reality
Say your company has a steady stream of customers, your staff is well trained, and your process is smooth. You’ve got a regular supply chain and you’re comfortable with the amount of money you’re bringing in. Your job is done, right? Well, customers can move. Staff can leave. Manufacturers can raise prices and emergencies can drain funds quickly.
None of these single issues are enough to sink your ship; but you need to be able to find solutions that push your business forward so that you don’t see yourself underwater the next time something bad happens. By researching and discovering which moves you can make to benefit your company, you can set your sails toward a better, more stable, and profitable tomorrow. That’s why it’s vital to recognize and capitalize on new business opportunities.
What Kinds of Opportunities Can Help Me?
Diversify Your Products
People. Process. Product. Let’s talk about Marcus’s third favorite “P” – the product. Have you ever heard of a company that only makes one thing? Crocs, the shoe company, for example. You may remember them from their iconic foam clog; but Crocs now offers dozens of different products in many different styles. Catalog diversification is essential in every business because it allows companies to adapt to their clients’ changing tastes or needs. Wearing Crocs in the summertime is terrific, but what about winter? Crocs now offers boots. Creating new products will also help you beat your competition to the market and minimize the damage if one of your products fails. Finding new products to offer your customers is one of the best business opportunities you can have.
Bring on New Hires
When you hire a new employee, they may have valuable connections, ideas, or talents to bring in new business opportunities. But, are you ready to expand your team? For small businesses, it’s essential to know when to bring on new staff. If you bring on too many people too quickly, training and salary can drain your company’s budget. If you wait too long to hire someone, you’re not making all the money you can earn, and you may find yourself overworked and burned out.
Revise Your Process
We know Marcus often tells us to “trust the process.” If your process isn’t working, however, then it’s time to revise it. Knowing when to build or revise your processes is one of the most important business opportunities for streamlining your company. Take sales reports as an example. How often do you generate them? Do you find yourself wondering mid-period how you are doing? Is there automation that can help with that? Processes, also known as procedures, can always be improved. Employee frustration can be a sign of a failed or flawed process; so try to evaluate how to improve their problems. You can also eliminate work duplication, wasted resources, and customer retention, which is excellent for your bottom line.
Find Investors and Partners
Finding new investors and establishing new partnerships will help you find and capitalize on business opportunities in the future. If you find that your company has been in a rut lately, fresh blood can invigorate your whole team. New relationships improve your business by providing resources, human experiences, and management techniques. New investors will also allow you to dream bigger than you are now. There’s always another level you can achieve. Whom you allow into your offices is an important decision; so choose your partners wisely and do your research.
Look for New Venues
Opening a new location or selling your products in a new market might be a daunting task for entrepreneurs. Still, it can help you identify business opportunities you may not have recognized before. Entering a new market introduces you to new customers, and you can see how a different population reacts to your products. By choosing new production channels to market your products, you’ll be able to see whether or not you are maximizing the business opportunities presenting themselves to you. If you aren’t promoting your company to a large enough market, or you are trying to reach the wrong customer base, then you’re losing money. You’re stuck paying for the wrong services, and you have lost the potential earnings that you could have made if the right customers had seen your products.
Change Your Advertising
Is your advertising working as hard as you are to obtain new customers? If you aren’t branching out, you could be losing out of potential earnings. When considering a new promotion channel, first assess what goals you are trying to achieve. An ad campaign for maximizing profit looks very different than a campaign to build brand awareness or advertise a product sale. There are traditional channels such as magazines, direct mail, radio, TV, billboards, and newspapers (yes, they still exist) and non-traditional channels including web banners, mobile, experiential and social media platforms. Facebook and Google Ads are standard, but have you tried placing ads on Reddit or Bing? They often cost much less. Advertising on local news sites is a great way to reach local customers, but sponsoring podcasts that speak about issues related to your expertise can give you access to ideal customers – people who are already looking for what you have to offer. The point is to think outside of the box and diversify the methods you use to reach your audience.
How Can I Identify These Opportunities?
By continually reinventing your company and seeking out potential growth areas, you will keep your enterprise moving forward. But how can you recognize business opportunities when they’re staring you in the face? When will you know it’s the right time to evolve? All you have to do is listen to what’s being said about your business, look at your competition, and know how your industry is evolving.
Listen to Clients
Even if you are trying to make a sale and can’t quite close, remain open to hearing why it didn’t work out. Write down the customer’s exact issues. Your past leads represent your future clients. The reasons why sales don’t work are the same as the problems you need to solve for your prospective customers. If you address common complaints, you can create a product that feels bespoke to the customer while it remains general enough to please a broad audience. In the case of two brothers and owners of a specialty toy company in Southern California, listening to their customers should have been obvious for a toy company. When the brothers decided to expand their product line, they asked Marcus for help.
Their original process was to select toys based on what they thought would be fun. This idea did not play well with Marcus. He recommended conducting focus groups with potential customers (parents and their kids) instead of relying on their own opinions to make decisions about which products to carry. Customers will always have wants and needs. It’s a good idea to listen. There’s a valuable lesson to be learned when Marcus says, “The key to business isn’t being smarter or wealthier; it’s being able to connect to people and relate to them.”
Touch Base with Customers
Customers will, more often than not, tell you what they think about your product. All you have to do is ask. Customer satisfaction questionnaires, focus groups, in-store or in-app feedback, and email correspondence will give you the data you need. You can also find out more than if they’re satisfied. Ask about your product selection and customer service. You can ask how often they spend money in your field, their favorite brands, and how they found your company. This data will inform you where you need to focus your energy to maximize your business opportunities.
Over two thirds of Fortune 1000 companies, including Vanguard and IBM, use something called the Net Promoter Score (NPS). In essence, it is when customers are contacted and asked, “How likely are you to recommend [company name, product, or service] to friends or colleagues?” (Ortega, 2020). If that sounds simple, it’s because it is. However, analyzing the data that one question provides gets a lot more complicated. The good news is that some countless websites including the ever-popular SurveyMonkey and services like Google Trends can help you find out what that data means for your business, and how it can boost your sales.
Investigate Your Competition
Your competition will give you insights into how to run your business. What do they do well? Where do they fail? Is there anything that they are doing that you could implement within your own company? Your products are similar to theirs, and their customers could be yours; so how can you make your offerings stand out? By analyzing these business opportunities, you’ll be able to edge out the competitors in your field.
See the Hidden Trends
Fashion changes, but the best designers don’t wait until their competition comes out with a new, fashionable dress to create something similar. The best designers see the way industry trends are moving, and then they get there first. As a small business owner, you should be watching your market closely to find the business opportunities other companies missed. You can do this by immersing yourself in journals, speaking with other entrepreneurs, or even following trending hashtags on Twitter.
How do I Implement These Lessons?
Automation, sales reports, market analysis, and in-depth research will help you implement the solutions to your business opportunities. But what does that look like for your small business? What do those things mean? As an entrepreneur, you need to be the coach and the quarterback for your business. Gather your information, keep it up to date, and know where and how hard you will throw the ball down the field. If your research tells you that your products are outdated, you might need to update your product design process to make some tweaks. Or, you may have to start from scratch. Only you will know which route best fits your business. Having well-established relationships with vendors, investors, and staffing agencies will help you if you need to make a decision quickly.
When is the Right Time to Make a Big Decision?
Your business (and every other business on the planet) runs on capital. There are two kinds of capital to think about when you are gearing up for a big move, whether it be opening a second location in an emerging market, rolling out a new product, bringing in new partners, or launching a massive advertising campaign.
The first kind of capital is financial capital. Basically, that means the amount of money you need to spend to get your product in your customers’ hands. Do you have enough to make the change you want? If not, is your pricing correct? Are you advertising to the right type of customer? Are you keeping track of your profits and losses? You need to know how much your business opportunities cost you.
The second kind of capital is human capital. Are your lenders comfortable with your goals? Is your staff ready to handle the increased volume? If not, do you have the time and resources to find, hire, and train qualified, enthusiastic employees? To seize new business opportunities, you have to be realistic about the expectations you have about your staff.
Are You Ready?
When you take a look at where your company can improve, or see a new way of doing things that can grow your business, you shouldn’t operate on gut feelings alone. Identifying business opportunities requires you to do your homework. You need the data, the customer and employee input, and a plan. These tips and tricks will help you develop one. Remember, every issue you find is an opportunity to better your company, and every bold step you take is bringing you closer to your goals. Seize the opportunity. Like Marcus always says, “The definition of an entrepreneur to me is the willingness to fail, and it takes a lot of guts and a lot of heart to take that chance.” So go for it!
- What business opportunities can you identify for your business moving forward?
- What is your plan to seize these opportunities for your business?
Ortega, G. (2020, May 18). The simple metric that’s taking over big business.
Retrieved from https://fortune.com/longform/net-promoter-score-fortune-500-customer-satisfaction-metric/