How to find a market gap – or let it find you

Successful businesses and people are geniuses at finding gaps. Gaps are problems or opportunities that, if addressed, result in massive payoffs. For a small business finding a market gap is invaluable but for any business, it can reap huge rewards. But how do you find and leverage market gaps?

Recently, a good mate, Brad Foster, and I toured the Northern Territory researching clever businesses for the NT Department of Trade Business and Innovation, we across a multi-award winning family business called Earth Sanctuary. Earth Sanctuary is a family owned, multi-award winning sustainable enterprise for education, tours & events.

Established in 2000, Earth Sanctuary has become a Northern Territory leader in the field of eco-tourism by becoming one of Australia’s first 100 per cent carbon-natural venues.

However, eco-tourism can be a tough business but here’s the really cool part. To support their passion they found a gap in the NT tourism market and created the Earth Sanctuary Space Observatory where they conduct fascinating tours of the desert night sky called “Star Shows”.

If you visit their “Star Show” you literally sit under the stars (with no residual city lights which is amazing in its own right) as they teach you about the night sky. Even better they received a grant to purchase and build the northern Territories largest private observatory which enables guests to view the moon, planets and stars in incredible detail. People love it and it’s aligned with their mission to help create a more sustainable planet. And most importantly from a business point of view, it’s a bonanza for them, bringing in approximately 50 per cent of their revenue.

What’s interesting is how they developed the idea because they didn’t sit around one day brainstorming new product offerings. It found them. And it took a while.

When they first moved to the Northen Territory their home was small and so the three brothers slept in swags under the night sky for 10 years. Yes, you read that’s right 10 years outside! During this time, they learned about the constellations, the movements of the stars over the seasons, and how the indigenous people used the night sky to travel, look after the country and find food.  They soon realised other people were interested to learn more and that one of the NT’s great assets (it’s incredibly clear night skies) wasn’t being truly leveraged. And so they created their astro-tourism business – “Star Show”.

Not all great business ideas will come from you. But if you are prepared to listen, watch and observe you may just find your version of the “Star Show”. If you’re not too busy looking elsewhere.

In the fast-paced business world, we live in where everyone wants to succeed yesterday, it’s comforting to know that good things often take time and patience, if you’re open enough to see them.

Nigel Collin, Business Coach and author of “Game of Inches”

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