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A timeless piece of business advice from seasoned entrepreneurs and mentors is this: always find gaps in your market. Such discrepancies are promising opportunities for businesses. They can either be an avenue for expanding current operations or be an entirely new money-making venture. But how exactly do you spot such potential? Here are some ways to do that:

Look for problems

In essence, gaps in the market are unmet needs. So, when scouring the industry, look for pain points. What are your customers’ frustrations? Is it the long queues in your restaurant? Perhaps a self-ordering kiosk can be of help. Is it the lack of healthy, quick bites in your locale? Perhaps opening a sandwich shop like Jon Smith Subs would solve the problem. When you’re able to pin down what exactly people are pining over, you can almost guarantee that your products and services will sell themselves. The best way to learn your market’s problems is to ask them directly. Conduct customer surveys. Or if you haven’t launched yet, do some case studies on your target audience.

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Checking out the negative reviews of your potential competitor will also offer great insights. When you know what’s not working, you can strategise how to avoid it and make yours work. So again, the principle is to seek your market’s pain points.

Track pending legislation

Sometimes, you can tell the direction the industry is going by looking at the changes in local, state, or federal laws. It can open up a new market segment or point to a promising venture. So if you could keep an eye on reforms, or better yet, predict them, then you can better position yourself and be one step ahead in your industry. Get yourself in the loop of trade organisations’ updates.

Turn on your Google Alerts, key in keywords, and make it a habit to read two to three articles a week about your industry. Of course, nothing beats having a mentor, someone who’s been in the game for a long time. They won’t just keep you informed about trends but also train you to make a forecast of the industry. So, look for business coaches. Grab every networking opportunity. Meet your ‘heroes’ at conferences and workshops.

Get inspired by the ‘outside.’

Don’t be limited to the businesses you see in your community now. Think outside the box, or in more concrete terms, go travel. Overseas, you might just run into something unique that you can’t find it in your own country or a new way of doing things, which can highlight the gaps you might have missed looking at your industry. Research businesses are booming in other countries. Learn why they’re successful. From there, see how you can do a relatively similar business that will work in your context.

In the end, the gaps in your market are opportunities in disguise. Don’t lose sight of them. Instead, seek them out. Take note of these tips to get you into the habit of looking for promising opportunities.

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