As an entrepreneur your first two instincts in building any business are to tackle large problems and stick to what you know. Those aren't bad instincts, especially addressing something where you have expertise.
But not every problem or solution has to be on a massive scale. Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Snap and others get headlines because of that scale. But below the surface are a lot of great businesses or verticals waiting to be created.
1. Find the pain points.
You should always start by asking one simple question: What is something lots of people do very often that they don't currently enjoy?
That's where you'll find the next great business. There was nothing sexy about razors when Dollar Shave Club started. It was a boring and costly process. But they saw a high volume industry where they could disrupt.
The same can be said for eyeglasses with Warby Parker. By making the process online and convenient they were able to steal market share. Now they are a brand with multiple retail locations. This decade is full of examples of everyday items, services and pain points being addressed through technology or new delivery methods.
Even today I saw Promo launched a free image resizer. And at first that may not sound like a business venture worth pursuing. But with 300 million photos uploaded daily to Facebook alone, it's a constant need.
If you reverse engineer how a company gets to creating a tool, it's by understanding a pain point people have all day. It's not the end of the world that I have to crop images for Twitter and Instagram each day. But if it's more convenient and less hassle, I'm going to try it.
2. Look for gaps in execution.
This holiday season $9 billion in potential revenue will be lost due to slow mobile experiences. And if you think about it that makes sense. the difference between buying and not buying something on our phones is equal to what the checkout aisle used to be. It's a snap decision sometimes.
You see something interesting on Instagram, you get a notification that something you like goes on sale. There are all kinds of tools targeting your interest and popping up at the exact right moment. Just like when you were waiting in an aisle and suddenly wanted to get gum.
But if that mobile experience is slow or you have to enter a lot of information or something doesn't look or feel quite right-that moment can be lost and people go on with their day.
So, when I read that news I don't see lost revenue, I see new opportunity. Be the next great mobile-only shopping experience. Do the research on why mobile experiences fail. Test your theories on family and friends. Conduct surveys. Use common sense. Because if you can figure out how to make the mobile shopping experience even 20 percent better, you're a company with a billion dollar evaluation. You're the "Uber" of shopping.
Now, that's not without competition. You won't be the only person trying to address that issue.
3. Carve out your niche.
So, the next thing to do is dig one step deeper below the surface. Once you find all the everyday pain points people incur, look for the ones being addressed the least. This boils down to a cost/benefit analysis for opportunities. The most obvious choice will sometimes make sense.
But don't always chase home runs. Singles and doubles can get you wins and add up quickly. Right now, I can think of a dozen industries that need disruption and are seeing very little of it. If I can do that off the top of my head then you know opportunity exists everywhere.
Your first step is to stop thinking about the business you want to create and start thinking about the business everyone needs. Read more. Look for where consumers are frustrated. That's where you will draw inspiration, momentum and have a better time finding investment. Because if you can show the market is there, the money will follow.