Monday, April 14, 2008

Types of Opportunities

When brainstorming a new business idea, many people get too hung up on trying to come up with a brand new product/service that has never existed before. But, I'll let you into a little secret -- it doesn't have to be that difficult!

You see, opportunities can present themselves in many different ways. Let me explain.

1. NEW product / service - This is by far the hardest opportunity to identify, but ironically, where most people think they need to start.

2. NEW way of organizing - Is there a different way to organize or sell an existing product/service? A prime example is Amazon or Ebay -- which took EXISTING products (bookstore) and services (auction) and simply sold them online. Other examples are the many different candle, jewelry and clothing parties being sold in people's homes, similar to how Tuppaware started out. Another favorite example of mine is Papa Murphy's who is rapidly gaining in the pizza industry simply by selling their pizza uncooked and requiring customers to pick them up!

3. NEW market - Is there a different market to sell an existing product/service? First, you can think geographically. What businesses have you seen elsewhere that would fit well in your hometown? Second, you can think demographics. For instance, many existing services are now being targeted towards youth - such as yoga, fitness centers, cell phones, etc.

4. NEW method of production - Can you produce an existing product/service differently? Back in Iowa, several engineering students had come up with a new freezing process to manufacture ice cream -- which gave rise to the emergence of Blue Sky Creamery.

5. NEW raw material - Can you produce an existing product/service with a new raw material? Think about the silicone hot pads and pans that have come out.

Of course, sometimes the best ideas can be those that combine some of the above options. Can you think of any other innovative examples?

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