If money is not an issue, you may want to contact a market
research firm and ask them to analyze your community and find
out for you where small business opportunities exist. If, like
most of us, money is an issue, you'll have to gather the
A good place to start is with the mainstream press: your
local newspaper, The New York Times, The Wall Street
Journal, Time, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek
and USA Today. You should also look at the business
press: Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, or any of the
other business periodicals to which you have access.
When you read them, look for trends that may be emerging, not
just in business but in our culture at large. To give you some
idea of what you should be looking for, here are three examples
of current trends and how you might parlay those trends into a
Trend #1: Increasingly, husband and wife are both wage
earners. This means that many couples don't have the time or
energy to perform tasks that were most commonly performed by the
wife. How can you fill in the gap? Some business ideas are:
child care provider, grocery delivery service, house-cleaning
service, interior decorator, dog walking service, household
manager, and gift purchase and delivery service.
Trend #2: In an effort to cut costs, many companies
have laid off employees. This means that companies are
increasingly looking outside of the company to perform tasks
previously performed in-house. In business-speak, it's called
outsourcing. Ask yourself: which tasks are businesses most
commonly outsourcing? Some business ideas are: copywriting
services, legal and paralegal services, billing and other human
resources-related services, public relations services, and
Trend #3: Computers are now everywhere. Many
businesses, however, lack the in-house expertise they need to
take full advantage of the emerging technologies. How can you
meet the need? Some business ideas are: Web site developer,
graphics designer, desktop publisher, and database consultant.
In addition to reading newspapers and magazines, you should
talk to friends, relatives, business associates, and other small
business owners about ideas they may have or needs in the market
they don't believe are being met. And, last but not least, don't
forget the often most-overlooked resource - yourself. You're a
consumer. If you've wished that a particular service were
available, chances are that others have too.
Also, when you think about market opportunities, think about
how you can improve upon a product or service that is already
being provided. But be aware that there are at least two
potential stumbling blocks here. The first is the tendency to
believe too readily that you can improve upon an existing
product or service. This is just old-fashioned overconfidence.
Be sure that you've thought through the specific things you can
do to improve what's already out there. The second is the fact
that your being able to improve upon a product or service is no
guarantee of its success. In other words, you must be sure not
only that you can improve what's already there, but also that
there is also a demand for the improvement.
For additional information on how you might develop a market
opportunity, consider the following:
For additional information on how to get market data, see market
research to fit your needs and budget.