How To Spot A Gap In The Market

Spotting a gap in the market is how we all think about business success. This is one of the classic key success factors in business, and often the way to have a successful business is to spot a gap in the market.

Why you need to spot a gap in the market

Most of the businesses I see are very similar to other businesses, and often my starting point is to find out what that business does (or can do) which makes them remarkable. A business based where someone has spotted a gap in the market should automatically be remarkable. They’ve been able to see something they can provide which no one else does.

They might have found something new to provide; Rubik’s Cube, kids’ scooters, a piece of the moon are all examples of these gap exploiters. You’ll note that many of these gaps are soon filled by cheap me too copy cats pretty quickly.

A gap in the market business model

Or the gap in the market might be providing a product or service in a completely different way.

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LoveFilm rented DVDs, but they captured the market by sending them through the post, rather than using the videoshop model, adding convenience and a huge list to choose from.  And now they’re out of date, because others came in quickly to deliver films instantly by streaming, so Netflix, Mubi and Amazon have taken over this space in different ways.

Gumtree provide the classified ads which local papers have made money from for centuries, but they’ve changed the model by making 99% of the ads free and putting it all online.

Tom Peters calls this “creative swiping”, where you take an idea from someone else, and give it a good twist to make into something new. Here’s my take on creative swiping.

Copying Someone Else

The easiest way to find your gap in the market is to copy someone else.

LoveFilm copied the original US Netflix, and Gumtree copied Craigslist and transferred these business models from the US to the UK.

You could research what other people are doing in different countries (or other cities in the UK) and work out what gap you might be able to fill where you are. Ideally, you want to do this before whatever you’re copying has been widely written about, otherwise you’ll find a bunch of other people who are all doing the same thing, all launching at the same time as you, and all aiming at the same gap in the market.

Trends

You can find some amazing ideas by absorbing yourself in different trends in business thinking and what’s happening in particular markets. The world is moving pretty rapidly, and technology and economic forces are very fluid. The trick here is to research into certain areas, especially those which are not altogether obvious.

If you have some knowledge in a particular area already, that’s good, but you don’t necessarily need to be a programmer to understand what’s happening in online technology. You can always hire programmers later. In fact, it can be better if you don’t have any industry knowledge as you won’t have any preconceptions and blind spots.

One of my recent clients identified a gap in the market for a particular kind of product. Once she was certain that there was a viable business, she bought 2 days per week of consultancy time from someone who was already very established in that industry. That way, she was able to tap into a deep level of knowledge about suppliers, materials, manufacturing processes, without having to learn all this stuff from scratch.

Where To Get Started

You might think about:

  • Chris Anderson’s The Longer Long Tail and Free to get a grip on new business models.
  • Jessica Livingston’s Founders at Work to see how others have done things.
  • Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, and his blog.  Here are my thoughts on Seth Godin, and why you should definitely read him.
  • New Scientist magazine can help you to think about the world differently, as can reading science fiction.
  • My own Recipes for Business Success,  a huge list of business ideas, all with detailed descriptions of how to get these ideas going, and how much money you’d make.  Take a look here…

Recipes for Business Success – find ideas which fill a gap in the market

This is one of my most popular blog articles, so I know that hundreds of people every month are looking for their gap in the market.

That’s why I set up my Recipes for Business Success.

Instead of racking your brain to find the gap in the market that you can fill, there’s finally an easier way to find the right business idea for you. I’ve written “recipes” for dozens of business ideas, and put them into a library of ideas which you can access online to find the right one for you.  There are ideas for little side project or part time businesses, some great ones that you can start small and scale up to a bigger business, and some which could make you a million or twenty.

Subscribing to Recipes for Business Success is just £39 to get access to dozens of great business ideas, all based on finding a gap in the market.

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Get my guide to help you find your gap in the market

I’ve written a guide with 52 ideas to help you find your gap in the market and start thinking about how you can use this to build a great business, or to add something to your existing business.  I’m pretty sure that it will get you thinking about possible gaps in the market, and how you could address these and make some good money in the process.