As an entrepreneur or small business, you’re always on the hunt for new business opportunities. Being able to spot these opportunities is essential for growth, especially in today’s business environment.In fact, with technology advancing at a rapid pace, business models changing and new competitors disrupting markets, you need to take a proactive approach to identifying new business opportunities.
From analysing your strengths and weaknesses, trends and customer behaviours, through to connecting with other businesses, there are many ways to identify these new opportunities. Here are some options.
1. Do a SWOT analysis
A SWOT analysis is a useful strategy tool that covers four factors affecting your business - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing your business.
Doing a SWOT analysis can help you identify new opportunities you could potentially take advantage of. Look at your strengths and ask yourself whether these open up any new opportunities. Also look at your weaknesses as you could open up new opportunities by eliminating them. For example, if a weakness is that you don’t have much of a presence online, you could respond by investing in a social media strategy to build more awareness of your company.
2. Look to trends
Your target market could be driving new trends that open up new opportunities for your business. Analyse how the market is changing to identify new trends you could take advantage of, whether in the short or long-term.
Likewise, look at the economic trends in your area. If the economy is looking up, your customers may be able to make more purchases. Or, if the price of sourcing materials is going down, it might free your finances up to invest in things like new product development or different pricing and packaging options.
3. Look to your customers
Do your current customers have the same profile as the people that were buying from you five years ago? Or have the demographics shifted? Maybe you’re customer base have aged with you. Or maybe you are seeing more younger customers purchase from you. Perhaps your customers are coming from different communities and backgrounds with different lifestyles and attitudes than your previous customers.
What opportunities can you think of that can help you move with these changing demographics? Maybe you need to adapt your marketing messaging. Perhaps there might be a related product or service you could launch that would appeal to this new demographic.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when you’re brainstorming possible opportunities. Finding a new avenue to grow your business will involve some creativity and innovative thinking.
4. Segment your customers
Segment your customer base into smaller groups with common characteristics, such as age, gender, location, lifestyle, attitude or spending habits. The more you know about the different types of customers your company attracts, the better you’ll be able to focus on catering to their specific needs. You can then target each segment with specific marketing, promotions and offers, as well as new products and services that appeal to their needs and wants, ultimately helping you to gain new business opportunities.
5. Analyse purchases
Consider how your customers purchase your products or services. Do they pay by credit/debit card, PayPal, cash, or credit? Where do they make the purchase - online or in store? Are there alternatives you could offer that you’re not yet providing?
People are looking for easier ways to spend and advances in technology have made this possible, from Paypal to pay later solutions like Klarna. Think about the options you may be able to offer that could bring new customers to your business.
6. Speak to your customers
Reach out to your customers for feedback on what they like about your products and services and what they would like to see more of. Perhaps they have their own ideas about what your company should be doing or how you could better meet their needs.
Thanks to social media the opportunities to connect and interact with your customers are greater than ever. If you’re active on Instagram, use your stories to poll your customers on new ideas for products or services. Or, you could consider a market research survey or focus groups to generate or test new ideas for your business.
7. Analyse the competition
When was the last time you reviewed your competition? Knowing the existing players in your market is important when evaluating business opportunities. Look to those competitors who are growing fast or those who are disrupting the market. What products and services are they offering? What is their value proposition? Identify the competitive advantage you have and your unique selling point and promote these.
8. Connect with other businesses
There’s power in working together and by connecting with other businesses in your local area you can open yourself up to new opportunities. Networking events are a great opportunity to connect with other businesses and build mutually beneficial relationships. Your local Chamber of Commerce will host regular events where you can meet with other businesses in the area.
Becoming a member of your local Chamber of Commerce is also a great way to raise your business profile and gain referrals, ultimately helping you to expand your customer base. If you would like to find out more about joining the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce, contact Justin.
9. Consider expanding into a new market
Exporting to other countries can be another opportunity for growing your business. Of course, you’ll need to research demand for your products or services and competitors in the local market first. Your local Chamber of Commerce can offer practical advice and assistance to help you succeed in foreign markets.
At the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce we also have a large network of partners offering market research services, overseas visits and specialist consultancy services we could connect you with for support.
Don’t wait around for new business opportunities to come to you. A proactive, creative and energetic approach to identifying new business opportunities is essential for growth and survival in today's climate.