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 can see some of the hot areas where there are gaps in the market just now in this article. To get some more ideas on how to find your gap in the market, just pop your email address in the box on the right to get my list of 52 ways to find your gap in the market.
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.
LoveFilm rented DVDs, but they captured the market by sending them through the post, rather than using the video shop 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And now they’re out of date, because others came in quickly to deliver films instantly by streaming, so Netflix, Mubi and Amazon have taken over this space in different ways.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’s gap in the market
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.
Use trends to find your gap in the market
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.
- My own New Business Ideas Collection, 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…
- Can you make money from helping people to choose…
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.
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Photo credits – thanks to Flickr members, Herman Turnip (not his real name) Rajeev, Robert Couse-Baker, Cheryl Brind