7 fast ways to discover new business opportunities

Businesses are more likely to survive, grow, and succeed when they fill a need. But sometimes finding that need isn’t always easy. You might know conceptually what the general need is but really zeroing in on the actual, tangible, hand-over-their-cash need is much more difficult to do.

Once you know and fully understand the need, and can articulate the problem and your solution, you have a business worth acting on.

If you want to start a business but have no idea who to sell to or what you want to do, I suggest you first think about that and narrow it down slightly. You just need some kind of loosely-defined boundary to get started (otherwise, you’ll have a hard time finding opportunities because you’ll be too busy ranging from one target market to another).

Or, if you are already in business and just want to explore some new opportunities (to the same market or to an entirely new market) you already have those boundaries set up.

Use the following 7 ways to quickly discover new business opportunities.

  1. Using Google’s Keyword Tool, search for some of the main words that your target market searches for. To zoom in even more, precede those keywords with words like “How to” or “How do I”.
  2. Check out a site like Quora or Yahoo Answers or Ask.com or Answers.com or LinkedIn Answers. These sites cater to different types audiences so make sure you check the ones that are most relevant to your audience. Pay attention to repeated or restated problems that appear multiple times.
  3. Visit forums related to your topic. There’s a forum on just about everything. Find the top forums for your topic (search for your topic plus the word “forum”). Then read like crazy. In many cases, you can read the initiating post to get a sense of what people are struggling with. Pay attention to repeated or restated problems that appear multiple times.
  4. Read magazines written for your target market. If possible, check out the back issues. Write down the top articles in each issue and watch for repeated topics. (This is my favorite way of doing market analysis).
  5. Go to Amazon and look for books written for your target market on the topic you are thinking about. Even just by looking at the titles and tables of contents, you get a pretty good idea of how authors are framing the problem and the solutions.
  6. Look at a site like About.com and see what topics they have. In your mind, restate those topics as problems requiring a solution.
  7. Go to a how-to site like WikiHow or eHow and see what other people are providing as how-to advice. Watch for advice that is very popular or is repeated/restated in different ways by many people.

Once you have some problems outlined, you are ready to build your business toward a solution that you can charge people for.

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