The 21st Century is one of abundant opportunity driven by a pace of change never experienced in history. It is the Industrial Revolution on steroids. CEOs often ask me “Where is my organization’s future?” Entrepreneurs ask, “Where will I find the Next Big, Big, Big, Thing?” Young people want to know “Which industry will provide the best long-term career opportunities?” My answer is simple, go to where there is hyperactive growth and few effective competitors.
Go Where There is Hyper Change
Growth occurs in vibrant economies where there are bags of change and few barriers to entry. Often the opportunity is in importing knowledge that is absent in these economies. In the developed world, look for industries with outmoded business models, where services are not meeting customer needs, and front line customer service is bureaucratic. These industries often present opportunities to leapfrog incumbents with innovative, entrepreneurial driven, disruptive services.
Change Creates Risk
The more change the greater the risk. Most people are risk adverse. Risk limits the number of competitors. It camouflages opportunity and hides how risk may be limited and managed. The good news is it may provide an opportunity for higher margins, as well as make it more difficult to attract investment.
Six Pockets of Opportunity
Where do I find opportunity? Dig where the change drivers are creating a new need that is not easily identifiable. Look at the effects of changing Demographics, Technology, new Knowledge, Globalization, Public Policy and Regulatory, and Political, Social and Economic change. These six change drivers are disruptive to the status quo and are opportunity creators.
1. Demographics Fuels Growth
To find opportunity, determine the needs of various demographic cohorts. For example, what are the needs of the aging population of Canada? What are the needs of the youthful population of the Middle East? Think of Africa where in the next 40 years the current population of 1.1 billion will double to over 2 billion! This will fuel growth in housing, education, and transportation. You do not have to think deeply to see the opportunities that demographics fuels. So go for it!
2. Technology and Growth
When Tony Fadell, the founder of Nest Labs, was building a vacation home he got the idea that the world needed a new thermostat. He was unimpressed with the available thermostats and decided to design a new and better one. That was the beginning of Nest Labs. Applying technology to human problems need not be complex. It can be a simple solution to an existing problem.
3. Change in Public Policy and Regulation
Consider the regulatory changes that occurred in telecommunications, trucking, airline, financial services, and media sectors in the last two decades of the 20th Century. These changes created opportunity for new companies to enter these “deregulated” industries. The lesson then: look at industries where public policy and regulatory change is occurring as it creates opportunity.
4. Globalization: an Opportunity to Capitalize on Global Trade
Improvements in transportation, telecommunications, and political integration have created economic and cultural interdependence amongst nations. Globalization has removed the barriers to the free flow of goods, people, and ideas. It has delivered cheaper and better goods. In the 21st Century, going global is no longer a matter of choice. The opportunity is to capitalize on global trade.
5. New Knowledge Creates Growth Opportunities
We now live in a world where knowledge has replaced land, labour, and capital as inputs to our economy. Every sphere of human endeavor has created new knowledge. It is now the turn of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organization to create wealth by the innovative application of knowledge to solving human problems.
6. Social and Economic Change Creates Opportunity
Social trends define emerging opportunities. Look for those changes in what the consumer values. Economic growth provides the platform of opportunity. Be alert to what is driving economic change, as it will lead you to opportunity.
There you have it. A world of opportunity is awaiting you and your organization. So, why not go for it!
I invite you to comment on this article and to share your thoughts.
Where do you see opportunity?