New Entrepreneurs Find Gaps in Old Industries, If They Know How to Look

3 minute read

Finding a new
gap in an old industry may be just the foot in the door that aspiring business
people need to leverage their way into a market that stokes their talents and
stirs their passions. The older generation of business leaders have an uncanny
knack for developing unbreakable habits, and sometimes it’s the young
up-and-comers who are able to exploit a gap that the old guard didn’t even know
was there.

Here are a
few ways to find the voids in existing industries, and to make the solution
your own profitable niche.

Keep Up With
Changing Legislation and Regulations

When laws and
regulations change, industries must change with them. In many cases, industry
leaders spend more time trying to fight new regulations than they do trying to
form a plan to adapt and succeed under the revised guidelines. Changes in laws
provide a valuable opportunity for entrepreneurs to identify and fill gaps in
their industry that simply didn’t exist before the new regulations were in
place.

For example,
Title VI of the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency’s
Montreal Protocol mandates the incremental phasing out of ozone depleting
chemicals that were commonly found in refrigerants since the invention of air
conditioning.

This is just
one component of a much larger ecological trend in the private sector, but it
forced unprecedented change in the industry and gave savvy entrepreneurs an
opportunity to come up with cooling mechanisms that did not emit these harmful
chemicals.

Once they
found the solution, they could sell their new products and services to major,
global corporations like Honeywell, who needed to retrofit their machines
to stay in compliance.

Listen to
Customer Complaints

Spotting a
problem in an industry is often as simple as listening to disgruntled
customers. Why do they dread dealing with the companies that dominate that
industry? Listening used to require expensive, complicated polling and market
research. Now, all you need is a Twitter account and a free social media
management tool like Hootsuite.

When
customers are annoyed, ignored and fed up with
endless, automated “press 1 for this" customer service black
holes, they often find empowerment through social media. Social media enables them
to bring their situation to light, to warn others about their experience or
simply to rant and vent. By monitoring hashtags from disgruntled
customers, a sly entrepreneur might spot a pattern in repeated complaints — and
therefore, he or she may spot an opening.

For example,
since the mobile phone industry is a genuine oligopoly, it has
historically been associated with very little price competition and
abysmal customer service. For years, customer complaints landed on
deaf ears at mobile providers who had their customers locked into contracts
that were too expensive for them to break.

With the rise
of social media, those complaints migrated over to Twitter and Facebook, where
they were heard by companies such as Ting, which is now enjoying incredible
success, offers à la carte options without a contract, and promises
prompt, no-transfer customer service with real people.

Look for
Unnecessary Middlemen

Middlemen
take a cut and cause prices to increase. Wherever you can eliminate them, you
can offer the same product or service at a lower price.

Take the
example of a British entrepreneur who relied on experiences with his own
physical imperfections. His poor vision led him to repeatedly pay for glasses
that he could barely afford. He contacted manufacturers directly and realized
that they would ship right to him if he asked — at a much lower price. His
eyewear business, which pairs buyers with manufacturers willing to sell direct,
now sells a pair of glasses every few minutes.

Gaps can be
found by cutting out redundant middlemen, by pouncing on opportunities
presented by changes in laws or just through good old-fashioned listening to
unhappy customers (old-fashioned listening with new technology).

It is
difficult for new entrepreneurs to take on corporate behemoths or to invent a
new product from scratch, but by identifying a problem and owning the solution,
a smart, ambitious entrepreneur can stake his or her claim to any industry
right out of the gate.

Have you
discovered a way to innovate your industry? Leave your comments below!

Marcela De
Vivo is the CEO of 
Gryffin
Media
, an online
marketing company that specializes in SEO, Social Media, Analytics and much
more.

Young Entrepreneur
Council (YEC)
is an invite-only organization
comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership
with Citi, YEC recently launched
StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship
program.