Originally published in Bplans.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs, asked eight of its members for their best advice on identifying new business opportunities. Here are their answers.
1. Use Google Trends
Google Trends is a tool that lets you see how the number of searches for a given term has changed over time. It’s an invaluable tool for getting a clear sense of the evolution of a trend or market. Tip: Put in a variety of search terms to see their relative popularity.
— Emerson Spartz, Spartz
2. Spot Signifiers
To understand your marketplace, you need to make sure that you have a good understanding of past trends, how and why they occurred. This knowledge will give you the insight you need to spot signifiers and indicators of new trends.
— David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services
3. Read Widely
New opportunities always represent the ability to put together information that other people don’t notice. The more information that you can take in and process, the more likely you are to spot an opportunity before it even becomes a trend.
— Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting
4. Provide Multiple Channels for Customer Inquiries
The most obvious market opportunities will come from your customers. They will say “I wish you sold in store x,” “I wish you did the same thing but with product y” or “I wish you added this feature set.” Provide as many channels as possible for your fans to provide feedback, phone numbers, email addresses, social media, surveys, etc. They’ll open your eyes to new opportunities.
— Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
5. Identify the Second Bounce of the Ball
“The Second Bounce of the Ball” by Sir Ronald Cohen of Apax Partners, the famed venture capital firm, is a book about identifying market opportunities before they become obvious trends. If you can identify “the second bounce of the ball,” you may be more likely to set yourself up for new market success. The book outlines strategies and practices for capitalizing on trends and new markets.
— Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.
6. Remember: There’s Room for More Than One
There is room for more than one company in most industries. Once one-to-two companies have proven the business is sustainable, it could be a good time to get involved.
— Josh Weiss, Bluegala
7. Check Your Analytics
It doesn’t matter how you choose to enter new markets — the signs are already present in your website data. By looking at your geographical data, you can identify the physical location of visitors and the language with which they browse the web. Your analytics data can also pinpoint other data that will help you make the most educated expansion move imaginable.
— Logan Lenz, Endagon
8. Scan the Market
Subscribe to RSS feeds, and make a commitment to read relevant articles that affect your industry. It’s important to learn to filter out the background noise so you can spot the meaningful trends in the market that are taking place. This will also be an excellent way to track and identify new market opportunities that you may not come across until it’s too late.
— Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC
Share your best tip for identifying new business opportunities in the comments section below or contact
David Ehrenberg is the founder and CEO of Early Growth Financial Services, an outsourced financial services firm that provides early-stage companies with accounting, finance, tax, valuation, and corporate governance services and support. He’s a financial expert and startup mentor, whose passion is helping businesses focus on what they do best. Follow David @EarlyGrowthFS.