A Beady Eye

As an entrepreneur, the ability to spot new business ideas is invaluable. Most of my own business ideas have come from 'scratching my own itch' but the world around us is filled with opportunities.

By 'keeping a beady eye out' and keenly observing your environment and paying attention to your own reactions, you can uncover unique business concepts or even better ways to 'do' existing businesses. But how can you harness your natural attraction to novelty and your drive for efficiency to identify promising business ideas just by observing the world around you.

The Power of Observation

Observation is a fundamental skill for entrepreneurs. By paying close attention to trends, behaviors, and pain points, you can identify gaps in the market and potential business opportunities. Adopting a mindset of curiosity is essential; always ask questions about why things are the way they are and how they could be improved. Keep a journal or digital notes of interesting observations, trends, and ideas, reviewing them regularly to spot patterns and potential opportunities.

Engaging with people—customers, employees, and other entrepreneurs—can provide valuable insights from different perspectives. Analyzing industry trends and broader societal shifts will help you anticipate future needs and spot emerging opportunities. Additionally, reflecting on your own frustrations and desires can be highly revealing. If something bothers you or excites you, there’s a good chance others feel the same way, and this can be the seed for a new business idea.

The Role of Novelty and Efficiency

Entrepreneurs are naturally drawn to novelty and efficiency, a combination that can be a powerful tool for spotting new business ideas. Embracing novelty means being open to new experiences and ideas. Attend events, try new technologies, and explore different industries to spark creative ideas. Seeking efficiency involves looking for inefficiencies in existing processes and thinking about how they can be streamlined, as solutions to common problems often lead to successful businesses. Experimenting with new ideas on a small scale, such as prototyping and piloting new concepts, provides valuable feedback and helps refine your ideas. Leveraging technology to gather and analyze data can offer insights into what people are looking for and the problems they face. Lastly, staying adaptable and being willing to pivot and adapt your ideas based on what you observe and learn is crucial for seizing opportunities as they arise.

Learning to Spot Opportunities

By adopting a curious mindset and paying attention to your surroundings, you can develop the skill of spotting business opportunities. When you encounter a problem or inefficiency, think about potential solutions and how you might address them. Engaging in regular conversations with your target audience can provide direct feedback about their challenges and the solutions they wish existed. Analyzing current trends using tools like Google Trends and social media platforms can help you identify gaps or underserved areas within these trends. Developing simple prototypes of your ideas and testing them with a small group of users will allow you to gather feedback and iterate on your concepts, leading to more refined and successful business ideas.

Practical Action Steps

  1. Dedicate time each day to observe your surroundings and take notes on anything that stands out.
  2. Adopt a problem-solving mindset and think about potential solutions to the problems and inefficiencies you encounter.
  3. Engage in regular conversations with your target audience to gather insights about their challenges and desired solutions.
  4. Use tools like Google Trends and social media analytics to analyze current trends and identify gaps or underserved areas.
  5. Develop simple prototypes of your ideas, test them with a small group of users, gather feedback, and iterate on your concepts.


Spotting new business ideas is a skill that can be developed through observation and reflection. By adopting a curious mindset, embracing novelty, seeking efficiency, and leveraging technology, you can identify and seize opportunities in your environment. Pay attention to your own reactions and the world around you, and you’ll be well on your way to discovering your next big business idea.

Recommended Reading

  1. "Blue Ocean Strategy" by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne: Learn how to create uncontested market space and make competition irrelevant.
  2. "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Clayton M. Christensen: Understand how disruptive innovations can create new markets and value networks.
  3. "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek: Discover the importance of understanding your purpose and how it can drive innovative business ideas.

Photo by Paula Vermeulen on Unsplash


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