5 Steps for Identifying a Business Problem and Opportunity

Unique business ideas are inspiring innovation everywhere, from technology to health care. How do entrepreneurs come up with all these ideas? In a world that never stops moving, innovating, and working around problems, new business opportunities are everywhere, just waiting to be tackled.

A workshop entitled “Identify a Problem and Opportunity” has the scoop on this. Dylan Turner, a University of Utah Master of Business Creation graduate and co-founder of doxy.me coaches aspiring entrepreneurs to notice great business opportunities and provides strategies for working ideas into value-contributing companies. He provided the tips outlined below through Lassonde for Life, a free, lifelong program that provides University of Utah alumni with entrepreneur support.

Turner offered advice for fellow entrepreneurs on how to identify a business opportunity and how to launch a successful company. He highlighted the importance of learning to identify ideas, choosing the right one, and determining their validity and potential value. Turner defined the plain-point definition of business opportunities as fixing a problem. He breaks this broad definition into three categories: noticing pain points, desires, and ambitious ideas you want to create. Read on to discover more detailed insights below.

Doxy.me is a company focused on providing accessible healthcare through a telemedicine platform — think Skype for doctors. The business-to-business company works with professionals from doctors to therapists, offering healthcare for 150 million people from their phones. Founder Brandon Welch and Turner started doxy.me in 2013, with the first users being medical clinicians at the University of Utah and launched it publicly in 2014.

Identifying ideas

Foremost, find opportunities. An opportunity includes unmet needs, pain points, or desires. Other times business opportunities are more aspirational in nature, like making humans a multiplanetary species. Turner emphasized that these ideas draw people in and get them going. He also suggests practicing identifying business opportunities.

Finding a business problem can be complex. Turner suggested, “Practice seeing the world from different perspectives.” Observing the world around you and noticing the hiccups in small and mundane tasks is key. Turner recommends noting every detail you pick up on. Over time, you’ll notice the pain points, opportunities, and market gaps. Different problems, unmet desires, and ambitious ideas you can take on will become apparent.

Selecting an idea

Choosing the right business opportunity to take on is essential. Consider what the idea will achieve and what impact it’ll have. Maybe it will serve a small community or an ambitious world-changing solution. With the end goal in mind, lay out the vision. Determine the process and steps to take and define how success is measured.

Validating an idea

Backing a startup with market research, potential customer interviews, and real-world trials is essential. Before it gets launched to the public, this will ensure its validity and value creation for consumers. Researching and exploring a space heightens understanding of the industry. This step helps validate a business opportunity and narrows down a target market or who you are fixing problems for.

Talking directly with potential customers through interviews is essential. Digging deep into a consumer’s mind helps determine true customer needs and wants. Turner emphasized research can’t beat speaking to potential customers. Seek target customer feedback and learn about experiences with the product or service.

10-100-1000 validation strategy

To test and validate their idea, Turner and Welch employed the 10-100-1,000 framework. The process entails testing an idea with 10 users, scaling it up to 100 users, and finally reaching 1,000 potential customers. During the initial phase, the first 10 users are presented with mockups and prototypes to test the concept’s usability. This trial is a quick and easy test run that does not require a working product.

The next phase involves exposing a relatively inexpensive, minimally viable product to 100 users and using user interviews to determine what worked well and what needs improvement. Turner highly recommends the “Jobs to be Done” framework and “The Mom Test” book for user interviews.

Using the internet, the third phase involves reaching out to 1,000 individuals who possess genuine interest in the product. Turner refers to this larger group as the “1,000 true fans,” with the premise being that obtaining 1,000 passionate fans is the foundation of a successful product.

The 10-100-1,000 rule should be practiced repeatedly, allowing for the identification of flaws in a business plan and the determination of the best ideas.

Apply strategies; determine opportunities

Implementing Turner’s shared strategies is worthwhile and will help identify business opportunities and reap their benefits. Pay attention to the surrounding world and environment; thoughtfully consider possible pain points and innovation possibilities. Choose an idea based on what value you want to create and your company vision. Validate an idea through research test runs and interviews. On repeat, communicate with users and apply their feedback to build up value and ensure success.

About the Author:

Abigail Cheney Originally from Connecticut, Abigail Cheney came to the University of Utah for their esteemed entrepreneurship and marketing programs. She is passionate about startups and entrepreneurial exploration. Her enthusiasm aligns with writing and additional artistic endeavors. Connect on LinkedIn.

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