How to Uncover New Business Opportunities

StrategyDriven Strategic Analysis Article |Business Opportunities|How to Uncover New Business OpportunitiesIf you want to make a success of your business, you need to know when a good business opportunity is staring you in the face. It might sound obvious and easy, but it certainly isn’t. First of all, spotting new opportunities is easier said than done. And on top of that, you might not know an opportunity is in front of you until you’ve tried it out and seen what happens. Read on to learn more about what you can do to uncover the best new business opportunities.

Listen Closely to Your Customers

If you want to know which direction your business should go in next, it obviously makes the most sense to listen to your customers. They can tell you a lot about where you need to go and what you need to do in order to appeal to their needs. These are the people who are going to be buying from you or paying for your services, so ask them what they want from you.

Research Trends

It can be a good idea to keep an eye on trends that are relevant to the industry in which your business currently operates. That way, you can make the most of these trends, but avoid going all-in on them. Trends are often short-term and they’re not something to base your entire business model around because that’s just risky and unwise.

Think About Problems That Need to be Solved

Finding problems that your customers have and then coming up with creative ways to solve them is a great way to find new opportunities. Where there’s a problem, there’s the potential for a lucrative solution. Everyone makes purchases based on problems they have, even at the most fundamental level. So it’s definitely something you should spend some time considering.

Start Networking More

Networking is a good way to have conversations and build connections with important and influential people. This can lead to opportunities developing if you have the right conversation or make the right impression. If you don’t know how to network, this guide by Monty Cerf on how to get back into it after the pandemic might be just what you’re looking for. Once you get into the swing of it, it’s easy.

Carry Out a Cost-Benefit Analysis When You Get an Idea

Finally, you should carry out a cost-benefit analysis whenever you come up with an idea that you feel might be beneficial to you and your business. It makes sense to look at what you could achieve by following this idea and where the costs might be of focusing on that thing at the expense of other potential ideas and opportunities.

As an entrepreneur or business owner, you’ll always need to be on the lookout for new ideas and new business opportunities that you might be able to take advantage of. But what matters most is making sure that you’re able to identify the right opportunities, and the tips above will help make that possible.

StrategyDriven Enterprises

StrategyDriven Enterprises, LLC

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The StrategyDriven website provides access to a wide array of best practice business planning and execution tools, streamlined process flows, how-to articles, example-rich podcasts, and customizable ready-to-use program management templates. Premium Members receive access to over 200 members-only articles, whitepapers, models, and tools and templates; providing an in-depth look into critical business performance areas; placing specific focus on the alignment of organizational standards, programs, and behaviors to the optimal achievement of mission goals. Sevian Business Program purchasers receive fully implementable business performance improvement processes out-of-the-box, enabling the acceleration of business growth and heightening of operational efficiency needed to significantly improve bottom line results.

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Do You and Your Organization Speak Data?

StrategyDriven Organizational Performance Measures ArticleSpeaking two languages makes you bilingual, and speaking three makes you trilingual. Any more than that, and you are a polyglot. In today’s data-driven business world, you are a data scientist if you can “speak data”.

Our world is becoming more and more about the data it generates. As pressure mounts, people who can analyze, visualize, and interpret data are becoming indispensable, much like a well-versed polyglot who can interpret and translate multiple languages with ease.

Speaking the language of data

Data surrounds us, and the ability to understand and interpret it should be a natural requirement for every individual and organization. Perhaps data and its projection on every surface of our surroundings will be the world’s new sign language. Thus, the new generation of human capital must possess this fundamental skill.

As individuals, we are challenged by the overwhelming amount of data we interact with in every scope of our lives. Learning how to make sense of data is becoming a necessity rather than a choice. If we want to continue to be part of this fascinating and engaging ecology – the world of Big Data, including the smart appliances, classrooms, schools, workplaces, and cities we anticipate in the near future – we need to be able to go beyond just speaking the language of data.

Using a data-driven strategy as a competitive advantage

It does not take a sophisticated algorithm to see the value of data scientists on today’s organizations. Clear distinctions are emerging between organizations that embody and embrace the data-driven world we live in and those who have not adapted and are still following a traditional approaches. Competitive organizations are embracing big data and re-engineering their strategies and processes accordingly.

In essence, these organizations are expanding their family of employees who are well-versed in data at every level of their managerial hierarchy. Clarity and transparency are of the utmost importance to data-driven environments where everyone speaks the language of data.

First and foremost, organizations have limited choices in today’s extremely dynamic business world. Data-driven strategies are inherently dynamic strategies that can help organizations bring the necessary transformations based on materialized and projected evidences. Data-driven strategies are also inherently granular, allowing management to sync and assess different layers of decisions and actions. Furthermore, data-driven strategies permit clear communication, responsibilities, and accountabilities at various decision layers.

Creating a data-driven culture

More importantly, the benefit of speaking the language of data allows organizations to be active in their communities and to learn through continuous engagement and feedback from their stakeholders. These are realities no organization can ignore for survival. However, in order to be competitive, organizations need to delve into the nitty-gritty of the language of data: the grammar, punctuation, and spelling that are required to be proficient in the world of big data. It not only requires passion, but also a bit of obsession.

Eloquent data speakers such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon serve as great role models for other organizations that are encouraged by the returns they see and that understand the growing need for their employees to communicate through data. This shift is not limited to creating a subset of employees who can analyze data, but to create a data-driven culture and environment that embraces all employees’ internal and external interactions as members of the big data ecology.

About the Author

Anteneh Ayanso is an Associate Professor of Information Systems at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business. He is certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) by APICS and teaches and researches in the areas of data management, business analytics, electronic commerce, and electronic government. Anteneh Ayanso can be contacted at (905) 688-5550 x 3498 or [email protected]

The Big Picture of Business – Yesterdayism… Learning from the Past, Planning for the Future

This Annual Report issue celebrates the year, as basis for helping business people to prepare for the future.

People are interesting combinations of the old, the new, the tried and the true. Individuals and organizations are more resilient than they tend to believe. They’ve changed more than they wish to acknowledge. They embrace innovations, while keeping the best traditions.

When one reflects at changes, he-she sees directions for the future. Change is innovative. Customs come and go… some should pass and others might well have stayed with us.

There’s nothing more permanent than change. For everything that changes, many things stay the same. The quest of life is to interpret and adapt that mixture of the old and new. People who fight change have really changed more than they think.

The past is an excellent barometer for the future. I call that Yesterdayism. One can always learn from the past, dust it off and reapply it. Living in the past is not good, nor is living in the present without wisdom of the past.

Trends come and go… the latest is not necessarily the best. Some of the old ways really work better… and should not be dismissed just because they are old or some fashionable trend of the moment looks better.

When we see how far we have come, it gives further direction for the future. Ideas make the future happen. Technology is but one tool of the trade. Futurism is about people, ideas and societal evolution, not fads and gimmicks. The marketplace tells us what they want, if we listen carefully. We also have an obligation to give them what they need.

In olden times, people learned to improvise and ‘make do.’ In modern times of instantaneous disposability, we must remember the practicalities and flexibilities of the simple things and concepts.

Things which Made Comebacks…

Ceiling fans. The jitterbug and swing music. Hardwood floors. Stained glass.

Things the Economy Has Exempted…

Penny arcades. Five-and-dime stores. Full-service gas stations. Free car washes at gas stations. Towels in boxes of detergent. Mom-and-pop stores. S&H Green Stamps and other redemption programs.

Things which the Marketplace Has Eclipsed…

  • Ice delivered in blocks via a horse-driven carriage by the ice man
  • Milk delivered in bottles via a horse-driven carriage by the milk man
  • Going downtown to do all of your shopping
  • Drive-in movies
  • Stores closed on Sundays

The Old Became the New Again…

The original speed for phonograph records, as invented in 1888, was 78-RPM, which engineers determined to be the most ideal for sound quality. In the 1940s, technology brought us the 45-RPM and 33-1/3-RPM records… adding up to the ‘mother speed’ of 78-RPM. The 1980s brought us compact discs, which play at a speed of 78-RPM.

Station wagons of the 1950s went out of style. They came back in the 1980s as sport utility vehicles.

Midwives were widely utilized in previous centuries. In modern times, alternative health care concepts and practitioners have been embraced by all sectors of society. Herbal ingredients and home remedies have gained popularity, and cottage industries support them.

Telephone party lines went out of style in the 1920s. They came back in the 1990s as internet chat rooms.

Corporations have become extended families, thus embracing dysfunctionality, changes, modifications and learning curves.

Schools started out as full-scope community centers. As the years passed, academic programs grew and became more specialized, covering many vital subject areas. Today, with parents and communities severely neglecting children and their life-skills education, schools have evolved back to being full-scope community centers.

7 Levels of Yesterdayism… Learning from the Past… Sources of Insights:

  1. Think They’ve Been There… Haven’t Yet Fully Learned from It.
  2. Saw It Happen… Understand It.
  3. Participated In It.
  4. Been There… Learned from It.
  5. Teach, Understand and Interpret It.
  6. Innovated It… and Teach You Why.
  7. Innovative Then and Now… Still Creating.

7 Applications for Yesterdayism… How to Shape the Past Into the Future:

  1. Re-Reading… Reviewing… Finding New Nuggets in Old Files.
  2. Applying Pop Culture to Today.
  3. Review case studies and their patterns for repeating themselves.
  4. Discern the differences between trends and fads.
  5. Learn from successes… and three times more from failures.
  6. Transition your organization from information down the branches to knowledge.
  7. Apply thinking processes to be truly innovative.

Apply History to Yourself. The past repeats itself. History is not something boring that you once studied in school. It tracks both vision and blindspots for human beings. History can be a wise mentor and help you to avoid making critical mistakes.

7 Kinds of Reunions… obtaining perspective:

  1. Pleasurable. Seeing an old friend who has done well, moved in a new direction and is genuinely happy to see you too. These include chance meetings, reasons to reconnect and a concerted effort by one party to stay in the loop.
  2. Painful. Talking to someone who has not moved forward. It’s like the conversation you had with them 15 years ago simply resumed. They talk only about past matters and don’t want to hear what you’re doing now. These include people with whom you once worked, old romances, former neighbors, networkers who keep turning up like bad pennies and colleagues from another day and time.
  3. Mandated. Meetings, receptions, etc. Sometimes, they’re pleasurable, such as retirement parties, open houses, community service functions. Other times, they’re painful, such as funerals or attending a bankruptcy creditors’ meeting.
  4. Instructional. See what has progressed and who have changed. Hear the success stories. High school reunions fit into this category… their value depending upon the mindset you take with you to the occasion.
  5. Reflect Upon the Past. Reconnecting with old friends, former colleagues and citizens for whom you have great respect. This is an excellent way to share each other’s progress and give understanding for courses of choice.
  6. Benchmarking. Good opportunities to compare successes, case studies, methodologies, learning curves and insights. When ‘the best’ connects with ‘the best,’ this is highly energizing.
  7. Goal Inspiring. The synergy of your present and theirs inspires the future. Good thinkers are rare… stay in contact with those whom you know, admire and respect. It will benefit all involved.

About the Author

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flameis now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

The Big Picture of Business: Critical Decision

Ceasing CD production will harm an already ailing music industry, where technology is not the answer: Analyzing the music industry and changing technologies.

Certain forces in the recording industry have announced intentions to cease production of compact discs and convert their music marketing to digital downloads. trimming the fat and criticizing incorrect activities in the organizational structure.

That is a dangerous course of action and stands to further devastate a music industry that has systematically killed the golden goose over many years.

The CD issue (including those who advocate obliterating the medium) is symptomatic of the bigger watersheds that have crippled and ruined large chunks of the music industry:

  • Not understanding the business basics.
  • Taking decisions away from the creative people.
  • Focusing only on the technology, not on the creative output.
  • Not understanding the totality of the music industry, with recording as a prime stakeholder, not as the stake driver that it tries to be.
  • Failure to learn from the past.
  • The trends toward over-formatting of radio.
  • Failure to understand and nurture the relationship with radio.
  • Failure to understand and nurture the relationship with television.
  • Deregulation of broadcasting.
  • Failure to collaborate, bundle products or combine efforts to create and sustain advantage.
  • Failure to understand and nurture relationships with the retailing industry.
  • Failure to plan for the present.
  • Trends toward homogenization of culture that resulted in drastic cuts in the quantity and quality of original music programming available.
  • Trends away from utilizing and showcasing music.
  • Trends away from spoken word and educational usage of recordings.
  • The music industry responding to changes and uncertainty by scapegoating the wrong people.
  • The international marketplace responding as entrepreneurs by taking up the slack and addressing the ‘missed opportunities’ by the American music industry.
  • Making knee-jerk decisions based upon partial information and wrong hunches.

In 1877, Thomas Edison introduced the cylinder, developed originally for business office use. It was the earliest Dictaphone, whereby messages would be recorded by a needle on a rolling tube. In 1888, Emile Berliner invented the phonograph record, for the purpose of transporting music to consumers. Columbia Records (now Sony) was founded in 1898, followed by RCA Victor Records in 1901. Edison missed his chance to influence the recording industry by sticking with the cylinder medium, not converting to phonograph records until 1912 and finally getting out of the recording business in 1929.

The radio industry began as a multi-city network that piped recorded music into department stores. In 1920, the first radio sets sold by Westinghouse to promote its first station, 8XK in Pittsburgh, PA. In 1926, NBC Radio signed on the air, followed by CBS the next year. In addition to news and other entertainment shows, a large portion of radio programming was attributable to music, and a long growth relationship with the record industry was sustained. Stars came on variety shows to promote their releases, and the era of radio disc jockeys was firmly secured in the public culture.

The media of music distribution was the 78RPM record. It was bulky, breakable and limiting the amount of music on each side. Record companies put multiple discs into sleeves and began calling them ‘albums,’ the terminology still existing today. Those albums started as collections of ‘sides’ but became thematic. Further packaging enabled various-artist albums and collections of ‘greatest hits’ (those two categories currently accounting for half of all CD sales, a big chunk of business to be wiped out by going all-digital).

The two major labels went into research and development on non-breakable records that would play at slower speeds, with thinner grooves and more music on each side, producing a cleaner sound (without pops and scratches). The results were Columbia (owned by CBS) introducing the 33-1/3RPM long playing vinyl record in 1948 and RCA Victor (owned by NBC) introducing the 45RPM vinyl record in 1949. Why those speeds? They were combined derivatives of 78RPM, known by engineers as ‘the mother speed.’ Not surprisingly, today’s CDs play at 78RPM, a technological updating of Emile Berliner’s 1888 invention of the phonograph record.

The 1930s and 1940s were massive-growth periods for the recording and broadcast industries. Along came other record labels: Brunswick, Decca, Capitol, Coral and jazz imprints. Movie studios got into the record business. Entrepreneurs brought Atlantic, King and other labels to showcase black artists and country music (two major growth industries attributable to the interrelationship of radio and records). Then came the international recording industry, which is the major user of CD technology.

The 1950’s saw exponential growth of the recording industry. There were more retail outlets for the music than ever before or ever since. One could buy music at every grocery store, department store and many unexpected locations. There was an industry of sound-alike records, sold at reduced prices. The result was that all families had phonographs, and music was going into cars via radio, thus stimulating record sales and thus encouraging other technologies to bring music into cars (emerging as homes in our mobile society).

The emergence of teens as the primary record buyers was fed by TV shows, increased disposable income and recording artists catering to younger audience. Due to broad radio playlists, there was ample airplay for every musical taste, and the record industry continued to grow. Independent record labels proliferated, as did recordings by local artists around the country.

With the British Invasion of the 1960’s came the reality of the international nature of entertainment. To package and market emerging modern music, media were implemented to make the best possible sounds and reflect the plastic portability of youth traffic. Along came music available on cassette tapes, then 8-track tapes. The music industry experimented with Quadraphonic Sound, with the ballyhoo associated with the Ipod, and that experiment fell flat after one year.

At every juncture, there were transition periods in the adoption and acceptance of new media. For the first 11 years of 45RPM records and LPs being manufactured, there were still 78RPM discs on the market. Throughout the tape formats, there were still records. With the advent of Compact Discs, there were still records and cassette tapes on the market. To now rush to conversion of all music to digital downloads is short-sighted and stands to kill markets and after-markets for CDs that still have another 20 years to run.

To kill the CD makes poor business sense. 78RPMs were phased out because better technology was developed. Quadraphonic was technology glitz but did not make good business sense. 8-track tapes were only meant to be an interim medium, until CDs were developed. CDs are the dominant medium and are economical to produce.

Killing CDs is a bean counter move and is contrary to the heart of the music business. CDs enable local bands to have records. Computer downloads are convenience items and impulse purchases. People’s listening frequency and intensity is different (and significantly reduced) through computer downloads.

Nothing still says ‘record’ like a CD in a plastic case, where the album is as much in the packaging as the content material on the disc. Lose the ‘record album,’ and the music industry will never be the same.

This is the juncture where the music industry must step back, analyze their decline over the last 30 years and understand the reasons why they must create new opportunities and move forward.

If I were advising the industry, I would steer them toward:

  • Stimulating a culture where excellence in music would be encourages, thus improving the quantity and quality of music being recorded.
  • Creating a music industry where the products would be more worth buying. There are still higher profits in album sales, rather than Internet song downloads (the modern equivalent to the 45RPM single).
  • Thinking of music distribution in directions other than just the Internet.
  • Stimulating the global record industry.
  • Encouraging TV shows to once again have theme songs.
  • Encouraging movies to get back to real musical soundtracks (not just the current drum crashing noise effects). This would re-boot the soundtrack album industry.
  • Recognizing that nearly half of all record sales and downloads involves repackaging older music product for new audiences.
  • Finding ways to promote local acts around the world.
  • Working with radio programmers to get playlists expanded. Music has to have the interactive exposure via radio. Nurture programmers of internet radio shows as the best new opportunity for expanding music exposure.
  • Understanding better the after-market of music resellers, and stimulate that series of opportunities for expanding the reach of musical products around the world.
  • Recognizing downloads as ‘low hanging fruit.’ Do not put all your industry’s distribution in one area, because that one area will always change.

The much-needed regeneration of the music industry to make a comeback and reclaim its past dominance takes time, energy, resources and lots of heart to produce. Couch planning as the only way to avert a crisis. Changing technologies does not equate to planning and strategy development.

People get what they pay for… always have, always will. Things are never simple for one who must make decisions and policies. Many factors must be weighed.

One cannot always go the path that seems clearest. One who thinks differently and creatively will face opposition. With success of the concept, it gets embraced by others. Shepherding good ideas and concepts does not get many external plaudits. The feeling of accomplishment must be internal. That is a true mark of impactful changes and success.

About the Author

Hank Moore has advised 5,000+ client organizations worldwide (including 100 of the Fortune 500, public sector agencies, small businesses and non-profit organizations). He has advised two U.S. Presidents and spoke at five Economic Summits. He guides companies through growth strategies, visioning, strategic planning, executive leadership development, Futurism and Big Picture issues which profoundly affect the business climate. He conducts company evaluations, creates the big ideas and anchors the enterprise to its next tier. The Business Tree™ is his trademarked approach to growing, strengthening and evolving business, while mastering change. To read Hank’s complete biography, click here.