4 answers

How do you identify what product you could possibly sell in a local market?

Asked Seattle, Washington

According to a little homework I've done, reading online about what it takes to become an entrepreneur, you don't need to have a fresh, or ground-breaking idea to become a rich entrepreneur (Wal-Mart, Starbucks). I would like to do something that correlates with my passion for all things good for people, the earth and animals (e.g. sustainable vegan coffee shop?). What are some tips for identifying local market needs (other than creativity)?

P.S. I am located in the Greater Seattle Area! #business #marketing #entrepreneurship #business-development #marketing-and-advertising #marketing-strategy #start-ups #market-research

4 answers

Amy’s Answer

Updated Sparta Township, New Jersey

This has been mentioned above, but I would stress that you need to talk to people around you who might be your future customers more than anything else. And people who's services you might need in the future as well, like a lawyer, accountant and a banker. Talk to these people not only about things you might like to try and what you need to know, but also ask them to share what they see others doing and about what's worked (or not). They will likely not share specifics, but you'll learn some great general things through their observations and experience.

And my final thing to add is you need passion, as you mentioned. More than just meeting a local need or finding something that's missing in your community to provide, you need to believe in what you're selling and be serious about doing it in the best way possible. Making money...not the first goal. Meeting the needs should be the first thing on your list, and doing it the best way possible, and if you do it well and it's a fit, money will come.

Read about successfully business people... Starbucks's Howard Schultz, Virgin's Sir Richard Branson, Telsa's Elon Musk, Amazon's Jeff Bezos. You'll find a very common thread about persistence and hope and even customer service. These stories should be very inspiring!

Best of luck!

Donald’s Answer

Updated Paoli, Pennsylvania

You might start by asking yourself, "What is it that I look for that is not available locally?" Talk with business owners and ask what products or services they have problems acquiring and what would they be looking for specifically if there was a local supplier. Talk to your peers, parents and others and ask if there are things that they would like to get locally.

As you do this, you might also start building relationships locally by asking vendors you use how they market locally. Are there perhaps ways that you might help them market their products or services. Can you work out a deal for business you might bring in to them?

I started my business after I retired so I knew a lot about the nature and problems of my industry. I went to purchasing people and basically told them that I didn't want to take away anyone's existing business, wasn't interested in competing strictly on price, but was definitely interested in products they simply could not get, needed updating or were of quantities too small for large manufacturers to be interested in.

Personally, I get a lot of satisfaction putting the deals together, solving problems and of course making a bit of money. The range of products we have supplied and/or manufactured is quite expansive ( office products to very complicated electronics). We've developed replacement products, updated technology on others and found suppliers that we could represent to satisfy the needs of others. It's challenging and sometimes quite profitable. You will have to be willing to talk with people, listen effectively and be willing to be creative.

There is also a movement of sorts to "buy locally". You may be able to capitalize on that especially as you become more familiar with your locally vendors and suppliers. You may also find there may be ways that you could make someones product better. The possibilities are endless.

Does any of this work? One of our first efforts was with a large company who had there purchasing department. I went in and asked to chat with one of their representatives. I gave my speech and was given an opportunity to try and supply three different products. One was a ventilation grill cover that was no longer manufactured (the company had gone out of business) - I found a local sheet metal shop that was very willing to supply these. They were very expensive to manufacture and I priced them accordingly.

There was another company that wanted an electronic component updated as the original piece was failing regularly. I had a friend in the electronics business who could build it if I could get it designed. I found a friend of a friend who was an electronic engineer. He was willing to try redesigning the piece using the latest technology. Ten years later, we're still providing this product and we have given each other business over the years. Who knew?

It is not easy, it takes a lot of courage to call on companies you don't know, it takes time and research but if you like doing this sort of thing its fun too! I hope this helps. In your area I think you'll find companies receptive if you approach them appropriately. A lot of the people you'll be approaching may once have had to do the same thing. When people ask me what you sell.....I reply, "What do you need?"

Good Luck,

Don Knapik

Anne’s Answer

Updated California, California

One of the most important thing in identifying what product you could sell in a local market is identifying what needs that market has that you can fulfill. One way to think about the needs that exist is to consider what inconveniences there are in the area. As you go through your day or week, stop and take notice of anything that you find bothersome, is it something that could be changed or improved? What would that change look like? Personally, I find myself often assuming that the way things are is the way things are going to continue to be, but then something new and disruptive changes the way we think about daily life. Best of Luck!!

Amy’s Answer

Updated
The most successful entrepreneurs have figured out how to solve a problem that people would pay money for. If you're passionate about the environment, talk to other people who are as well, and find out what is a challenge for them when it comes to living sustainably. Maybe it's finding products that are made with recycled materials, or disposing of waste, or reducing their carbon footprint on their commute. Whatever it is, start with the problem and then brainstorm ways to solve it. The ultimate goal is an idea of something people would pay for, it there are other ways to monetize if you come up with a really good product or service that's free.