If you are looking for an idea for a new business, a way to tap into a new market, or a product line expansion, the answer may be right in front of you. The secret is to learn to see the opportunities that exist.
An article in the Wall Street Journal told about entrepreneurs who profit by providing stylish ways to wear those security badges so many corporate employees are now required to carry. The businesses mentioned range from an intensive care nurse who sells crystal beaded holders for $30 – $50 each to her fellow nurses, to a jewelry company that has sold 100,000 badge holders at prices ranging from $10 to $300.
Although the scale and execution differ, what these entrepreneurs have in common is that each one saw a need and a way to fill it. The nurse designs and creates her holders as a side business, and turns away business because she doesn’t have the time. The jewelry company sells both retail and wholesale, and creates special holders for large customers. (Boeing wants theirs made using ball bearings!)
Both the nurse and the jewelry company started their lines for nurses; however, with the increased security in place these days, more companies are requiring the use of security cards and the demand has increased.
What can you learn from this? First, if you are looking for business or product ideas, solve a problem faced by yourself and those around you. The above businesses addressed the desire of employees to avoid those tacky lanyards and express individualism within a corporate environment.
Listen to complaints and suggestions about existing products and services. Whether customers are talking about your products and services, or you hear comments about other companies, each negative is an opportunity to create something new that meets a need.
Keep your eyes open for people who should be your customers, but aren’t yet. The badge holders were created for nurses, but found a large market in the corporate environment when employers started requiring employees to carry cards. This change created entire new markets that had to learn about the availability of the products.
Look for new uses for old products. Caboodles cosmetic cases were launched when the company learned that women were buying fishing tackle boxes to store their cosmetics. (Insert your own obvious joke about what the women were trying to catch here!) They created a line of boxes especially for that purpose in bright colors to appeal to women. Same boxes, new look, new market.
As needs and circumstances change, watch for opportunities to meet the needs of new and existing customers—sometimes by offering things they don’t yet know they need!