Dave Pollard writes (part of his forthcoming book “Natural Enterprise”):
Every successful enterprise’s offerings (products and/or services) meet four criteria:
1. They fill an unmet business, social or consumer need.
2. The enterprise understood why the need wasn’t already being met, and overcame those obstacles.
3. The enterprise has the competencies to effectively create and deliver offerings that fill that need.
4. The enterprise has the resources to bring those offerings to the marketplace.
This may sound like a simple recipe, but it’s actually quite difficult to achieve. The market for products and services, though far from perfect, is reasonably efficient at identifying and satisfying needs. If you find an unmet need, there is almost surely a reason why that need isn’t being met by some other enterprise. You need to find out what that reason is, and overcome it. And then you need to gather a team of people with the collective competencies to design, produce, market and distribute the product or service that meets that need, and the resources (physical, financial and intellectual) needed to do so effectively. Easier said than done.
The key to doing this is in research, the difficult, time-consuming (but usually inexpensive) process of discovering the who, what, when, where, why and how of unmet needs. There are two kinds of research: Secondary research entails reading and browsing online to gather information that has already been published about the market, and need, and the possible solutions to it. Primary research entails talking to people directly to answer these questions, gathering unpublished information and intelligence. Successful needs identification usually stems from primary, not secondary research.