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How do you all seek out needs?

NC Bidniss

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I have all the right ingredients to be a successful entrepreneur. Capital, business background, experience, resources, and so on. However, I live in West Virginia, and this state is not very representative of the market as a whole. Due to that fact, most of my "market research" takes place on the internet.

As stated in TMF and by successful business people everywhere, the golden rule to entrepreneurship is "find a need and fill it". While I am confident in my abilities to fill a need, it's the finding of the needs that escapes me.

How do you all find needs? What resources are available that help you see the holes in the marketplace? What strategies do you use to find needs? How do you determine the scale of a need once you find it? This has been my Achilles heel over the past couple years, and I want to break free of the handicap so I can move into the fastlane. Any tips would be helpful!
 

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Michael Burgess

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Personally, I started filling really "small" and obvious needs that I had the resources and confidence to tackle.

Were these massive markets with insane opportunity? No.

They did, however, put me in front of people that had bigger needs that I could help. This pattern of helping meet a need, getting in the market in front of people, and learning about new opportunities, is how I've gotten to where I am today. I think the pattern will continue the same way!

I'd say just get started, don't be afraid to help someone in a small way, and just continue trying to help more. You'll stumble into a good way to help people soon.
 
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NC Bidniss

NC Bidniss

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Personally, I started filling really "small" and obvious needs that I had the resources and confidence to tackle.

Were these massive markets with insane opportunity? No.

They did, however, put me in front of people that had bigger needs that I could help. This pattern of helping meet a need, getting in the market in front of people, and learning about new opportunities, is how I've gotten to where I am today. I think the pattern will continue the same way!

I'd say just get started, don't be afraid to help someone in a small way, and just continue trying to help more. You'll stumble into a good way to help people soon.
I like the approach. Currently, I am working on restarting a warehousing and logistics company (I have a 200,000 sf building that needs filled up). That is a good way to start, but the trouble with that industry is that scalability is incredibly difficult and costly. Its a good way to make money, but it takes a long time to scale up. Should I even think this way about it?
 

Michael Burgess

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Oh, wow - that's definitely a huge space and lots of capital tied up in that warehouse, I'm sure.

Could you lease out small portions of the space to others that have a need? Eg. 10,000 sf for someone storing cars, 10,000 sf for a mechanic, 40,000 sf for somebody else building a warehousing company, etc? I don't know what the zoning or building is like, but splitting it up into smaller pieces may make it more accessible for groups that don't need that much space, while still putting money in your pocket to cover your own expenses.

As far as building your own warehousing and logistics company, do you have any trucks yourself for managing the logistics? Any potential staff, or will this be a solo operation? Do you have any contacts from your previous company that you can reach out to, in order to strengthen the relationships and see if they have any unmet needs?
 

Rabby

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Meeting people in person helps me a lot. You can read a lot more from personal interaction. A phone conversation is next best.

Research that relies on web searches and reading is often behind the need... except where you can find people complaining about their problems in forums and such. Even in those cases, I would look for the physical person with the same problem to validate the need.

I had a customer call and ask me to make a certain online class. I assumed the market was saturated, but the problem was that the competitors were making it difficult to get signed up, and the classes weren't very good. This was mostly due to the competitors taking a state government subsidy. So I made my own class, ignored subsidies and charged full price, and people started signing up immediately. The customer just volunteered the need in this case.

In an other case, where I had no existing market, I started talking to everyone I could find, fishing for need. I had developed a system for my own use that I think others can use. So I called a direct competitor, and a friend in the same industry as me, and had a meal together while talking about it and other things. Turns out nobody in my industry wants what I have so far, because they're happy enough with hacked together systems. But...

When I talked to someone in a different industry about the same product, their eyes got wide and they said "can it also do this..." Well yes it can do that but why--- "sell it to us!" Ok, there's a need lol.

Continuing that same line, I called another friend in a related industry to the guys above (they are all MSPs/VARs of one kind or another). He also verified the need, and the conversation gave me an idea of who will be most excited about the product, and who will be luke warm.

So for me anyway, it's the personal interactions. Try to meet with people, and be willing to help them with any problems they're having, if you have the expertise. Make it a valuable conversations. And ask them "what do you think about this...." or "one thing I've been working on is..." and see what they pick up on.
 
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NC Bidniss

NC Bidniss

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Oh, wow - that's definitely a huge space and lots of capital tied up in that warehouse, I'm sure.

Could you lease out small portions of the space to others that have a need? Eg. 10,000 sf for someone storing cars, 10,000 sf for a mechanic, 40,000 sf for somebody else building a warehousing company, etc? I don't know what the zoning or building is like, but splitting it up into smaller pieces may make it more accessible for groups that don't need that much space, while still putting money in your pocket to cover your own expenses.

As far as building your own warehousing and logistics company, do you have any trucks yourself for managing the logistics? Any potential staff, or will this be a solo operation? Do you have any contacts from your previous company that you can reach out to, in order to strengthen the relationships and see if they have any unmet needs?
I actually have about 88ksf leased currently. However, simply leasing the building doesn't provide a great return, and it is not as scalable as creating a process and providing value add services. I do not have any trucks or other equipment currently, but I plan to purchase or lease them as needed. I have some staff for the leasing side of the business, but no warehouse operators. I do have some contacts from the past, and I have already reached out to them. Unfortunately, the town I live in is nowhere close to being a logistical hub, and my company can really only service local need. I have had a few ideas related to foodgrade storage and delivery, but I'm not sure if that is a real need in the area.
 

Rabby

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Unfortunately, the town I live in is nowhere close to being a logistical hub, and my company can really only service local need. I have had a few ideas related to foodgrade storage and delivery, but I'm not sure if that is a real need in the area.
Now you have a direction... who do you know, or who can you call and get to know, related to food grade storage?
 
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NC Bidniss

NC Bidniss

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200,000 sf is a good starting point. Nice going.
I have other properties, but they are all occupied currently. Concerning food grade: I have no idea where to start. Maybe large distributors? However, outfiting my facility, or a portion of it, would be a massive undertaking. Roughly 1.5m minimum. I would not want to simply field of dreams the thing.
 

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You don’t need to go far. Look deep inside your own life’s problems. You are human, after all, and need/experience/like/dislike the same things that a lot of humans do. Find a problem that YOU face, something you wish was better. Then you can begin the journey to learn if it’s bad enough and large enough to solve and scale.

Let’s wander through the evolution of vacuuming, where a simple problem breeds thousands of innovations -

Sweeping carpet sucks, somebody needs to invent a vacuum.

But vacuuming still leaves crumbs in the carpet. Can’t somebody make it super powerful, make the action strong like a tornado?

But still, the cord’s a pain, somebody needs to make them cordless.

Vacuuming still sucks, I still have to do it myself, can’t somebody automate it?

Now the roomba batteries die quickly, can’t somebody make it go back to a station and charge itself?

But you still have to empty it and change the filter, the dam thing needs to empty itself.

And now my trash can just sits there all stupid, I guess I’ll take it out to the street myself.

Unless somebody can...



While we’re having fun, let’s take a look at the very unsexy apparatus, the Umbrella -


Getting rained on sucks, somebody should make an umbrella.

Umbrellas are huge, somebody needs to make it telescope and be more compact.

Oh - and let’s add a push button to make it pop open.

But umbrellas are so ugly, can’t we make pink ones, clear ones, ones with pictures and flowers on them?

Yeah, but...



The same applies for services, anything really. Good luck, start a progress thread when you find a target!
 
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Fastlane Liam

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Oh, wow - that's definitely a huge space and lots of capital tied up in that warehouse, I'm sure.

Could you lease out small portions of the space to others that have a need? Eg. 10,000 sf for someone storing cars, 10,000 sf for a mechanic, 40,000 sf for somebody else building a warehousing company, etc? I don't know what the zoning or building is like, but splitting it up into smaller pieces may make it more accessible for groups that don't need that much space, while still putting money in your pocket to cover your own expenses.
This is actually a great idea. I met a guy once in his 70s who owns all of the industrial estates around my area. He owns the land and his sons have a construction company that builds the warehouses, then they rent them out. I presume hes being doing this one thing for a long time. I remember him saying one plot made him 2M a year, another 10M. Crazy
 

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NC Bidniss

NC Bidniss

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You don’t need to go far. Look deep inside your own life’s problems. You are human, after all, and need/experience/like/dislike the same things that a lot of humans do. Find a problem that YOU face, something you wish was better. Then you can begin the journey to learn if it’s bad enough and large enough to solve and scale.

Let’s wander through the evolution of vacuuming, where a simple problem breeds thousands of innovations -

Sweeping carpet sucks, somebody needs to invent a vacuum.

But vacuuming still leaves crumbs in the carpet. Can’t somebody make it super powerful, make the action strong like a tornado?

But still, the cord’s a pain, somebody needs to make them cordless.

Vacuuming still sucks, I still have to do it myself, can’t somebody automate it?

Now the roomba batteries die quickly, can’t somebody make it go back to a station and charge itself?

But you still have to empty it and change the filter, the dam thing needs to empty itself.

And now my trash can just sits there all stupid, I guess I’ll take it out to the street myself.

Unless somebody can...



While we’re having fun, let’s take a look at the very unsexy apparatus, the Umbrella -


Getting rained on sucks, somebody should make an umbrella.

Umbrellas are huge, somebody needs to make it telescope and be more compact.

Oh - and let’s add a push button to make it pop open.

But umbrellas are so ugly, can’t we make pink ones, clear ones, ones with pictures and flowers on them?

Yeah, but...



The same applies for services, anything really. Good luck, start a progress thread when you find a target!
That's a great way of looking at it. Thanks!
 

Rabby

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I have other properties, but they are all occupied currently. Concerning food grade: I have no idea where to start. Maybe large distributors? However, outfiting my facility, or a portion of it, would be a massive undertaking. Roughly 1.5m minimum. I would not want to simply field of dreams the thing.
Definitely do not just spend 1.5mm and hope for the best. That's when you would find out they wanted wet storage instead of dry, or warm storage instead of cold :wideyed:

I guess I would try to talk to someone at a distributor. Or ideally, an owner or major investor or board member of the distributor. That's where the new opportunities often come from... the employees (below C level anyway) may just be executing a plan that doesn't know about your free space, experience, and willingness to solve problems.
 
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NC Bidniss

NC Bidniss

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This is actually a great idea. I met a guy once in his 70s who owns all of the industrial estates around my area. He owns the land and his sons have a construction company that builds the warehouses, then they rent them out. I presume hes being doing this one thing for a long time. I remember him saying one plot made him 2M a year, another 10M. Crazy
I have actually given some thought into an excavation business. WV is the "least flat" state in the country, and flat, buildable land is scarce. In other words, you have to make it flat. I have a potential opportunity to start a company and use it to develop my own land. There are also a lot of houses and buildings slated to be torn down locally, and I could bid on those after my own project is done.
 

Rabby

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The conversation just reminded me... I know a guy with a warehouse, and he fills it with used HVAC equipment and used industrial equipment. He sells the HVAC stuff to builders and property developers/owners, and the industrial stuff to whoever he can find. He seems to enjoy it, lol. There could be a lot of things you could do this with though... farm equipment, diesel engines, etc. The need would make itself apparent, if people wan the stuff, because it's hard to find a space to store a bunch of big items. They don't fit in a 4 car garage anyway.
 
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NC Bidniss

NC Bidniss

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The conversation just reminded me... I know a guy with a warehouse, and he fills it with used HVAC equipment and used industrial equipment. He sells the HVAC stuff to builders and property developers/owners, and the industrial stuff to whoever he can find. He seems to enjoy it, lol. There could be a lot of things you could do this with though... farm equipment, diesel engines, etc. The need would make itself apparent, if people wan the stuff, because it's hard to find a space to store a bunch of big items. They don't fit in a 4 car garage anyway.
That's a good thought. I considered perhaps storing used car parts at one point, but decided against it. The idea of bigger industrial equipment is not a bad idea. Any idea of where I could start looking?
 

B. Cole

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I have actually given some thought into an excavation business. WV is the "least flat" state in the country, and flat, buildable land is scarce. In other words, you have to make it flat. I have a potential opportunity to start a company and use it to develop my own land. There are also a lot of houses and buildings slated to be torn down locally, and I could bid on those after my own project is done.
Are there innovations to be made or brought to your area that wouln’t be so destructive to the land?

Ie:

A company that provides foundation platforms for building without having to clear the land, via screw piles, etc. B2B business, contractors would sub the foundation work to you much cheaper than having to flatten all that West Virginia rock.
 
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NC Bidniss

NC Bidniss

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Are there innovations to be made or brought to your area that wouln’t be so destructive to the land?

Ie:

A company that provides foundation platforms for building without having to clear the land, via screw piles, etc. B2B business, contractors would sub the foundation work to you much cheaper than having to flatten all that West Virginia rock.
You might be onto something there. It's worth looking into.
 

Rabby

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That's a good thought. I considered perhaps storing used car parts at one point, but decided against it. The idea of bigger industrial equipment is not a bad idea. Any idea of where I could start looking?
Excavation equipment, related to the excav business you thought about? You can move the hills, or you can sell really big shovels to the guys moving hills. Or rent them.
 

Rabby

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Or if your preference is to not remove hills, maybe the pile drivers or pile screws (whatever that machine is called) related to building on hillsides. Also worth considering measures against landslide, if you're building on hillsides and that's a concern with your soil type.
 

NMdad

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Really like @B. Cole's idea for how to create level area without excavation--nice shortcut/out-of-the-box thinking.

Also, since you have a warehouse with excess capacity, you might brainstorm ways to maximize its value. What are the most profitable types of things you can do in a warehouse? Legally. :) I.e., a warehouse can be used for lots of things, not just warehousing. Make a list, and make a spreadsheet to rate your ideas for things like fastest to test, easiest, probability of success, hours or cost required to test, etc.
 

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NateTheGreat

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I have all the right ingredients to be a successful entrepreneur. Capital, business background, experience, resources, and so on. However, I live in West Virginia, and this state is not very representative of the market as a whole. Due to that fact, most of my "market research" takes place on the internet.

As stated in TMF and by successful business people everywhere, the golden rule to entrepreneurship is "find a need and fill it". While I am confident in my abilities to fill a need, it's the finding of the needs that escapes me.

How do you all find needs? What resources are available that help you see the holes in the marketplace? What strategies do you use to find needs? How do you determine the scale of a need once you find it? This has been my Achilles heel over the past couple years, and I want to break free of the handicap so I can move into the fastlane. Any tips would be helpful!
What part of WV are you in? That’s where I’m from as well and live here. Would be happy to connect with you. May be able to share some ideas together as well. I believe that we both probably run into the same obstacles when it comes to looking for needs and doing market research. I run an engineering firm out of WV. Reach out any time!
 
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NC Bidniss

NC Bidniss

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What part of WV are you in? That’s where I’m from as well and live here. Would be happy to connect with you. May be able to share some ideas together as well. I believe that we both probably run into the same obstacles when it comes to looking for needs and doing market research. I run an engineering firm out of WV. Reach out any time!
Parkersburg. I'm planning to move within the next couple years, though. Seriously considering Pittsburgh.
 

Timmy C

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I tune into em,they are everywhere really. You can turn your fast lane frequency on like a switch eventually.

Went to the races last week. Problem made my night pain in the a$$. I look at said prpblpr and go F*ck me fast lane shit in my drunken state. Wrote it down in my phone.
 

NateTheGreat

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Parkersburg. I'm planning to move within the next couple years, though. Seriously considering Pittsburgh.
I can understand that. I'm also looking to relocate in the next 5 years. Pittsburgh is too North for me! haha
 

Andy Daniels

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For me, finding needs is all about mindset. MJ talks about listening for opportunity statements:

Ugh, do I really need to stand in this line?
I wish this product was better!
If only this had a laser and bluetooth!
(Everything is better with Bluetooth)


Just get out there, and listen to what people are complaining about. Then be the producer that makes their problems go away.

Cheers!
 

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