Fix It, Revive It, Ride It

  • May 8, 2012 by Corbett Barr
  • 22 Comments

To succeed in business you have to fill unmet demand.

The greater the need, the bigger the opportunity.

Finding that demand is the trick. It’s not always easy to spot.

Here are three of the best places to look for opportunities:

Fix It (Something Broken)

If something important is broken, creating a solution is a great way to create a business opportunity for yourself.

The small business lending ecosystem through traditional banks is broken.

Crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo (founded by two former colleagues of mine) found a way to solve the broken funding model for small businesses and creative projects.

As Chris Guillebeau tells it (from his new $100 Startup book):

Shannon Oakey told me about going to her community bank to ask for a loan. She had all her finances in order and had supported the bank for many years, but they still turned her down. Shannon decided to do it herself through a Kickstarter campaign. She got more money than she needed and mailed a printout of the result, with a lollipop wrapped up inside, to the loan officer who turned her down.

Opportunity: find something severely broken and fix it.

Revive It (Something Forgotten)

Sometimes something isn’t badly broken, but it’s forgotten. If you can revive something old and overlooked, you might spark renewed interest and unearth demand.

What could be more boring and utilitarian than a thermostat?

As the people at Nest describe it:

We didn’t think thermostats mattered either. Until we found out they control half of your energy bill.

They took something forgotten and made it incredibly sexy. By re-imagining the thermostat as a gorgeously designed, intelligent and easy-to-use device, they’ve revived interest, restarted an industry and created a hit product for themselves.

Opportunity: look for everyday items around you that could be revived with modern thinking.

Ride It (Something Hot)

If you can’t find something broken or forgotten to restore, there’s always the old standby in opportunities: jump on a hot trend and ride it.

Brett Kelly turned his love for and experience with Evernote into Evernote Essentials, an eBook that has sold over 12,000 copies. Evernote was a hot new application and there was unmet demand for a detailed guide.

Brett rode the wave of interest in Evernote, earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue, and even landed a position with the hot startup.

With technology changing so quickly, these opportunities are coming about more and more frequently. Just in the past several years we’ve seen social media, mobile device app development and online / social games each become massive opportunities.

The trick is spotting these trends at just the right time. Too early and demand isn’t great enough. Too late and you’ll have far too much competition.

Opportunity: find a hot trend you can ride to the top.

Where do you think is the best place to look for business opportunities? Share in the comments below.

P.S. You might notice there’s a new design here (if you’re reading this via email or in a feed reader, click here to see the new design). I hope you like it. I like to freshen things up from time to time. Thanks for reading.

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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Brandon May 8, 2012 at 10:21 am

Hi Corbett,

Interesting thoughts. I think that a good business person good at listening and looking. It starts with being observant, not only of others but of yourself. I’m finding lately that as I go about my daily life, I’m trying to look at myself from a 3rd person perspective and pay attention to what my problems are, what causes me to do certain things, and how these problems can be solved or things can be done better.

It helps to bounce ideas off of someone else and test ideas before you invest time and effort into making it a business. My wife is the first person I usually bounce ideas off of. Then of course, listening to the problems and trends of what others are doing. I’m planning on trying to “ride” the wave of the flood of people who are interested transitioning from working the typical 9-5 jobs, to working for themselves by building profitable websites that produce passive income. That’s the purpose of my Passive Income Lifestyle blog, so that people can read about my journey and benefit from all that I learn in the process.

Corbett May 8, 2012 at 11:14 am

Great points Brandon, observation is a useful skill to cultivate, especially in business.

Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca May 8, 2012 at 10:42 am

Hahaha… it’s so good, Corbett. Truly :) Succinct, precise wisdom. I love it :)

…And sometimes you can do all 3 for insane results — (see Apple) :D

Corbett May 8, 2012 at 11:14 am

Thanks J-Ryze :)

Scott Fox May 8, 2012 at 10:58 am

Nice paradigm, Corbett. These are 3 helpful lenses that entrepreneurs can use to look around and identify opportunities.

I’d say the best place to look for business opportunities is in one’s own life. That’s where the opportunities are that you’ll understand the best and be most personally interested in fixing, reviving, or riding (or all 3!).

D Anthony May 8, 2012 at 11:13 am

Loved the message. It is a simple one. But the simple is what gets to the heart of most issues. I have seen the “revive it” part work very well. It seems as i go from business to business, most owners / entrepreneurs think and believe that their issues are one for revival. I believe it is one of “fix it”. The organizations that move forward and grow are ones that are honest with what is going on.

Kenneth May 8, 2012 at 11:15 am

Thanks for this article! I find it really helpful especially for people who are looking who are looking for new business opportunities. Keep those good posts coming! God bless. :-)

Corbett May 8, 2012 at 11:16 am

Aren’t little paradigms like this fun? Thanks for contributing Scott. I agree, opportunities from your own life are great candidates because of your connection to them.

Alan | Life's Too Good May 8, 2012 at 11:16 am

Hey Corbett,

nicely done. I was trying to think of a fourth one but I think you’re just about right with these 3 ;-)

from a different angle you’ve also got fear & greed – I was trying to think of how these might relate but then my brain decided it had had enough and I made myself a cup of tea instead.

then there’s what part of a persons balance sheet you want to be on – the cost side or the revenue side – revenue is always better.

There you go – now you have a cube. Combine these three different angles and you can make a rubiks cube of interesting concepts.

Just a thought ;-)

great stuff as always dude,

Alan

Steve May 8, 2012 at 11:24 am

True dat. Think this is the baseline problem with how we tend to overt think things and make them more complicated.
I find it easy to look *completely* outside where I already am Right Now (live, work, play, think, dwell, read or do anything else) or where I ‘exist’ today in search of ‘some crazy new big a$$ Einstein idea’ in something totally new and exciting. (which can be done of course)
The reality is the risk & resources it’d take to execute on that are exponentially higher than ‘where I am’ & ‘what I already know about’ right here right now…today.
So what Fix It, Revive It, Ride It ‘thing’ is right under my nose that I look past every day. The reason I look past it is probably cause it’s easy for me, which means I’m really good at it, which means I can help other people get good at it & make their life better (and charge for it)…and it was just sitting there, like a little purring kitty, waiting to be stroked. Waiting for me to stop chasing that elusive red shiny ball (like otis from garfield) & just execute where I sit today.
It’s easier to chase the ball, because it ‘feels’ better. It’s not as simple. Simple is hard.
Great post hombre…back to hustlin’…

Steve May 8, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Stumbled back over my comment here while reading what some others wrote…sorry guys too much coffee & needed a break. ‘purring kitty waiting to be stroked’…what in the….geeesh…

Amanda Devine May 8, 2012 at 11:41 am

Love the ‘revived’ look! ;0) No, I seriously do.

Great article with good pointers on how ‘not to just give up’. Lord knows, we all need those from time to time.

Thanks.

Sheyi May 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Whao, great insight here Corbett.

To the best of my knowledge, looking for golden biz opportunity is everywhere. Wherever i turn to or hear anything about something, I surely notice something missing that could be done – heck, i can’t do all!

Taking the internet as well, one could look for opportunities online. Refine most popular stuffs and people will buy again from you just because its from you.

Lastly, listen to the radio or tv and if 3 coys are advertising a particular program differently but solves same prob, then there is a goldmine in that industry too.

Sheyi

Joe W May 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Great inspiring examples as usual. I’m sure you can always find a way to accommodate any situation to at least one of the three.

Joe W May 8, 2012 at 2:34 pm

oh and I forgot to say that the new design is indeed refreshing…

Kelly Mac Donald May 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Simple way to look at a perplexing question. You repeatedly get to the heart of the matter in every post.

What if you are Defining a goal that a person wants to achieve and taking them there. How does that opportunity fit into this concept?

Andi-Roo May 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I’m terrible at spotting new opportunities, but my hubz does it quite well. Which is nice, because he sucks at seeing something old that just needs to be fixed up, whereas that’s somewhat my specialty. Riding what’s hot — that’s one skill we both lack. Good food for thought. Thanks! :)

Shayna May 10, 2012 at 6:51 am

Interesting take, and I love the examples!

I tend towards the “fix it” model myself, because in my niche (English as a Second Language learning) people almost always talk about their shortcomings – “My vocabulary is limited,” “I don’t understand grammar,” “I have trouble understanding spoken English,” etc. – so I try to offer solutions that speak specifically to those pain points.

However, there might be a way for me to “ride it” – I’m based in Brazil, which is going to host the World Cup and Olympics in the next 4 years. “English for the Cup” courses are already springing up all around the city, as people want to get their English in shape for the enormous influx of visitors and tourists. Wonder if I could put together an online course that could ride this trend? I’ve already had visitors e-mail me asking about something like this.

Daniel May 10, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Simple and elegant, and good examples too! Loving it :) Of course, easier said than done, but inspiring still!

Daryl May 10, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Great post Corbett.
To answer your question, I think one of the best ways to find new opportunities is to keep the idea of opportunity hunting in your mind at all times and to jot down every thought you have, as you go about your daily business, into a notepad / Evernote / app / whatever. Then at the end of the week, sit down and sort through all your ideas and see if there’s anything worth pursuing further.
You never know what you’ll come across during your average day that could spark the inspiration behind your next big idea.
I do this in Evernote, I use a special tag called ‘ideas’, then at the end of the week or month all I need to do is search through my tags labelled ‘ideas’ for a comprehensive list of every potential opportunity I have come across that week.

Shawn McAfee May 13, 2012 at 7:18 am

Corbett, the new design looks fantastic. You continue to do an incredible job with always motivating content. Thanks brother!

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