How Entrepreneurs Identify Business Opportunities

By Catherine Li



It’s one thing to be able to identify businesses opportunities set for major market success. Entrepreneurship, however, requires more than just finding a profitable idea. To tap into the motivating power within entrepreneurs, the ideas conceived must be influential enough to change the world through major economic, social or environmental impact. 

You will be far more motivated to get through the entrepreneurial challenges if your product/service meets that initial criterion of being a force for good. This way, your business will be something you can genuinely become emotionally invested in. The challenge, however, lies in identifying business opportunities ideas in the first place.

So where do you start? Here are five simple ways through which you can identify business opportunities:

  1. Find opportunities in your own community. 

While languages and even cultures vary, many of the challenges in our world are actually similar across many parts of the globe. Therefore, one of the best ways to identify business opportunities is to start locally. Begin to look for issues that surround your local communities

Geoffrey Leslie, CEO and president of Screems, gave an expert view on how to identify local opportunities. This Netherlands based company addresses changes on both a domestic and global level using MAPS (Major Appliance Power Station), a clean energy-generating device that can be installed in either a business or home. This technology can change communities across the globe through the affordable and self-sustaining electricity it offers. 

“So many of the best ideas come from our own personal observations,” Leslie wrote about looking locally. “But to obtain these insights, you have to get out in the community.”

For example, you can join a volunteer group to understand more about the issues it’s trying to address, and read news articles that discuss problems in your city. “These micro-level interactions can make all the difference in finding an issue you can address,” Leslie said. 

Instead of attempting to transform the entire world altogether, you might identify ideas that can first be trialed in your local community. This can serve as a great way to refine your efforts and even quantify your impact for when you take your idea to a bigger platform.

  1. Draw on your own personal experiences.

Many powerful world-changing ideas stem from experiences and challenges from an entrepreneur’s own life. Take a moment to consider the problems you’re dealing with, such as the problems potentially affecting your current business ideas, personal life, and even home. 

More likely than not, you’re not the only person facing these problems. 

Rather than wait for someone else to solve the problem, take initiatives by identifying business opportunities that directly addresses the issues you’re confronting. More importantly, understand that when you’re addressing your own problems, you’ll be more likely to be passionate about creating and making available the best solution possible. 

In Leslie’s case, for example, he found a heavy reliance on fossil fuel by looking at his home in the Netherlands. This, combined with rising concern over climate change, catalyzed his solution as not only an important advancement for his company, but for the world at large with the potential to democratize energy production.

  1. Look for ideas that get other people involved.

Many of the most influential ideas don’t just offer a new product or service. They get people involved—such as changing the way people approach their own lifestyle or even someone’s mental outlook. This way, you’ll have a far greater reach and impact in the long run. 

As an example, business consultant Monica Bourgeau wrote in HuffPost, “[Author and TEDx speaker] John-Paul Flintoff works to help protect the environment and prevent global warming. He realized he could make an immediate difference by reaching out to his neighbors. However, he did this not by overloading them with facts and research, but by giving them… tomato plants.”

Flintoff offers his extra tomato seedlings to his neighbors every year, Bourgeau wrote, noting: “This simple and kind act started his neighbors growing some of their own food, thereby slightly reducing their environmental impact.” 

As a result, both the customers and community members alike became personally involved. This way, you can make a much bigger impact than on your own. 

  1. Go out of your way to ask others how you can help.

Coming up with new ideas can be challenging. That’s why brainstorming for new ventures has consistently been a powerful tool. One major obstacle could be coming up with a world-changing idea. But there is plenty of support from your community that can lead you in the right direction with great insights. 

Don’t hesitate to consult with several different groups to find the right ideas.

How Entrepreneurs Identify Business Opportunities

For instance, with specific challenges, you can ask friends and family. WIth those who wish to make an impact, you can consult like-minded coworkers. You can even conduct focus groups in local communities. 

If a business wants to change the world, successful ones don’t operate within a vacuum. As you leverage input from others, you will generate more ideas relating to potential problems you can focus on—and even maybe some opportunities on how your business can propose a possible solution. 

  1. Give back through meaningful philanthropic work. 

Your initial business idea doesn’t necessarily need to change the world by itself. What you need is also a properly aligned philanthropic effort, so you can become a force for good. 

Taking Habir Sian, who transformed his eyewear company into something greater than a traditional business by donating glasses and setting up sustainable eye clinics in impoverished countries. Here, he was able to make charitable efforts a core aspect of his company’s identity by targeting real problems within his industry. A pair of glasses itself might not change the world, but a philanthropic outreach with eyewear can. 

Whether you’re trying to revolutionize your industry or improve living conditions for those in poverty, finding a greater purpose in your entrepreneurial efforts can change the world. Making a meaningful difference isn’t as far off as you think. 

Read more about how we help startups get their ideas off the ground through our Build For Equity Program.

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