I've built my life around seeing opportunities where others see obstacles. As entrepreneurs, we should always live eyes-wide-open, and learn how to view problems as a means to creating solutions. As business leaders in different industries, we should be doing the same and figuring out how to harness new technologies to catapult our businesses forward, similar to what we're seeing with AR in automotive and with small business.
I started my agency (Agent Beta) that way by hunting around on Craigslist in 2013 to see what the majority of people were posting for.
I recently caught up with Matt Dubois the Founder of Voice Casting Hub, who, in the past few weeks has identified a major problem in a legacy industry, quickly assembled a team, brought in investors, and has built a company that is in discussions with some of the biggest players in his industry, all within a matter of weeks. I also connected with Mark Mastrandrea, the Cofounder of Ikonick, to ask him to provide some tips as well.
We all shared some tips and suggestions as to how to identify problems and execute on those opportunities.
The most successful entrepreneurs I know, understand how to sniff out unique opportunities, test and execute more efficiently than their counterparts. Here are some tips on how to identify and execute on new ideas:
1. Identify problems.
Most opportunities disguise themselves as problems. They can arise from new technology or products entering the marketplace where other people may not yet know how to harness those technologies, think chatbots, cryptocurrency and AR.
As Mark explains, "any business opportunity that comes my way, I look to the DNA of the problem and where the opportunity stems from. I dig into the problems that have created those opportunities, to figure out if I can provide the proper solutions to those problems. If so, I act quickly and move fast on seeing where I can create value and potentially be involved in the project."
2. Position & timing.
Matt is adamant about position and timing. He says, "it's important to be prepared and plan. Once I identified a potential opportunity, I was already prepared as I had started and ran startups and businesses before.
I knew exactly what I needed to do, it was just a matter of executing. I leveraged my skills and experience to bring in the right resources, and was perfectly positioned to move quickly, as the timing was already right."
3. Be quick, but do not cut corners.
As Matt explains, "This opportunity had a window of time. I had to be quick, but I never rush as that leads to issues like poor work and overlooking pitfalls. Rushing can cause big mistakes and is a sure way to fail. Cutting corners is a sure way to deliver subpar product or service and lead to poor customer satisfaction and/or legal issues."
Time is short, you can't do it all on your own. It doesn't work in any business. Assemble the right team that understands the opportunity and can help you meet those goals on schedule. Mark's counterpart is his good friend, Jeff Cole. Jeff is a talented designer, who handles a lot of the creative side, which allows Mark to focus on the business side.
Together, they've built a rapidly growing business and team, and have established themselves as the market leaders.
Execution is the most important point. Matt notes, "execution looks differently for every business, but it's important you're being productive, not busy."
Personally, I like to put items in the Urgent/Important quadrant and base my priorities on that. I also like to focus on revenue generating activities if it's a service or product, or user generating activities for apps and digital products/platforms. I always test, and only put time into something if I've already proven the demand.
Some examples, if I'm raising money, I don't start building a product until I've piqued interest with potential investors. If I'm building a product, I do it one sprint at a time and test with potential users all the way through development. If it's a sales deck, I send the bare information and only add more if it's requested. I do this while testing and executing everything.
So many people "want" to be entrepreneurs, but don't know where to start. Problems exist everywhere, and as entrepreneurs, our main objective should be solving those problems. Every business you know of does that, and the better they are at providing solutions to those with the problems the better they do. It's important to start seeing problems as opportunities, and the mind shift will open your eyes up to an endless flow of ideas.