Identifying the gap in the market, or your unique selling point (USP), is the holy grail of business success to many. Others believe drive and determination are the most important consideration, whilst some may think it is the ability to take a measured risk.
Successful professional Aneeka Patel knows it is a mix of all of these things, with a clear ability to view a problem as an opportunity. Aneeka’s success was recently recognised by the business community who awarded her ‘Young Achiever of the Year’ at the London Asian Business Awards 2017.
It takes a great deal of research to know where and how to start a business, but I know from experience there is a magic combination of factors that come together to form a successful outcome.
Knowing your market is key, and this is where the ability to identify the need for your product or service comes in. Entrepreneurial success is characterised by an ability to spot the gap. This takes many forms. Sometimes a product or service is completely absent – you spend hours looking for the thing you need only to find it doesn’t exist.
Frequently, the gap is narrow or subtle. You might find many products that will do some of the job you need, or a service close to the one you would like. You may even find something that claims to do exactly what you are looking for, but fails to deliver. This market can be daunting, and requires a huge amount of self-belief.
When I started Project 143 it was to meet a narrow gap like this, and the key to the success of the business was my absolute conviction that I was not the only person disappointed by the available services. I had to focus on exactly what it was that I had been looking for, and believe if I could provide it then others would use it.
Part of my conviction came from knowing the market inside out. I had personally struggled to meet someone and find a meaningful relationship whilst working long hours in the city. I spent fruitless hours on the available dating websites, tried multiple apps and signed up to several introduction services – and I knew they didn’t provide the complete high-end package that professionals like myself needed.
There is a definite place for market research – to launch into business without an element of this would be rolling the dice – but it in my view it is important to remember that market research is a starting point, and most importantly – it’s only a tool. Good research does not guarantee good results, whilst using good research to fuel your drive and self-belief brings you much closer to success.
Numerous successful inventors and entrepreneurs have been successful in fields that weren’t their own at the time, like me. I left a successful city career in legal and compliance to found Project 143 because I could not ignore the opportunity to fix an industry that I considered to be letting people down.
We all know the importance of spotting the gap, but it is how you react that can define the line between success and mediocrity. Even using mistakes as catalysts for change is impossible unless you genuinely view problems as opportunities.
Superglue, post its and play doh were all either discovered by accident or useless for their original application: Super Glue was deemed too sticky, Post It adhesive not sticky enough, and Play Doh was a redundant product invented as a wallpaper cleaner. All household names now, thanks to people with enough belief to look at the “problem” differently and find a new application.
High-level entrepreneurs are superlative problem-solvers, who refuse to accept “close”, “nearly” or “almost” perfect as descriptions for goods or services. The belief that if we want better, we are not alone in our thinking, motivates us to create the solution.
As Kevin Costner was once told, in the film Field Of Dreams – ‘If you build it they will come.” In my case, I built Project 143, the clients did come, and they are glad they did. What more could any entrepreneur wish for?