Uncharted Waters: Navigating an Untapped Market for Your Business

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For many entrepreneurs, the idea of entering an untapped market is alluring because of the perceived lack of competition. It can be exciting to discover that you have uncovered a solution to a problem that can make lives easier or more meaningful for others.

Your unique skills, gifts and ideas are different from others, and you can serve them in ways that nobody else can. However, untapped markets are also uncharted territories without established standards and practices, so you are often on your own in figuring out the best path forward.

Uncharted Waters: Untapped Markets

When people talk about untapped markets, they are generally referring to consumer demands that have yet to be met in the marketplace. Finding an unattended niche market, or a niche need of the general consumer population, are the best ways to find where the market has yet to be tapped.

For instance, Heather Tuba recognized that there was little to no information or support available for partners of trauma survivors even though the need was high. So, she began a business through blogging, writing, speaking and coaching with the aim of serving partners of trauma survivors and creating the body of knowledge and support that she wished had been available for her.

Special Concerns in Untapped Markets

Untapped markets often seem desirable to entrepreneurs because of the perceived lack of competition. However, this also means that nobody has gone before you, so there is no road map or advice to follow to help you along the way. You are likely to go through many processes of trial and error. It also means that you need to create your own safety net as you move forward through seeking information in multiple ways:

  • Business coaching
  • Accounting services
  • Legal consultations
  • Financial advisers
  • Web experts
  • Reading 
  • Conferences

Finding Hidden Competition

Even in untapped markets, there are hidden competitors because your potential clients have been attempting to meet their needs in other ways before you came on the scene. You can determine your hidden competitors by identifying what hasn't worked for your customers in the past.

For instance, a practitioner opening a new business to offer neurofeedback services to patients with epilepsy might learn that patients saw doctors, therapists, chiropractors and other professionals before coming to him.

When you discover these hidden competitors, you have actually struck gold. You can learn a lot from them about things like:

  • Marketing
  • Client needs
  • Legal considerations
  • Possible risks
  • Policies and procedures

Uncharted Waters: New Horizons

One of the most exciting parts of tapping into previously untapped markets is the possibility that you might be able to improve lives in ways people never thought possible. Just think about Henry Ford and the motor vehicle, Steve Jobs and Apple, or Madam C.J. Walker and hair care. These trailblazers changed lives because who they were matched up with what people needed, and you can do the same.

If you want to create new horizons through navigating uncharted territory, you need to go through an intentional process of reflection and planning that extends beyond market trends. Here are some things to consider:

  • About what are you passionate?
  • What do you love to do?
  • About what do you love to learn?
  • For what problems in your areas of interest do you wish you had a solution? 
  • For what problems do others wish they had a solution? 
  • What problems exist in what is currently available? 
  • What is profitable in your areas of interest?
  • How can you test your ideas? 

These questions can help you discover your niche and customer needs and then combine the two to make a living and a difference by doing something nobody else has done before. Remember that not every idea soars, but by trying different things and being open to the possibilities, you can eventually arrive at just the right small business path for you.