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When the going gets tough, entrepreneurs get going

New opportunities or good-paying jobs won’t come from bailouts like NAMA. They come from start-ups. And where do start-ups come from? They come from smart, creative, inspired people who are willing to take risks and not handouts.

So if you’re considering starting your own business – or looking for ways to expand an existing one here are three time-tested strategies you can implement to fast track growth and gain a competitive edge.

1. Discover an untapped niche that’s ‘hot’

Discover an untapped niche that you believe unswervingly will be hot or find a niche in a hot market that you can be best at.

Markets are driven by a curious mix of psychology combined with supply and demand. You therefore need to understand contextually what it is customers need, which competitors don’t offer which you could. Don’t try and offer everything for everyone. Target the niche that others have neglected or ignored in markets with high potential demand and little competition.

Often, a shift in cultural or economic trends will unlock new entrepreneurial opportunities. Look for markets that are ‘hot’ and are on trend as these have greater growth potential and are more scaleable. Identify a product or service thats a must have as opposed to a need to have in a market where customers have a low level of satisfaction with current alternatives.

2. Understand your business model

A business model is the rationale of how a company creates, captures and delivers value. This is exactly what our Dragon’s Den investors are looking for – how do you translate your idea into value or more bluntly money. Like Narcissus, entrepreneurs need to be careful that they don’t fall in love with their own ideas. Always understand what you are going to do, how it adds value to customers and how it is going to make money.

‘Angel Investors” or buyers are looking to generate a return on investment so make sure you can explain your business model by quantifying revenues, cost structures, and margins.

3. Apply unconventional wisdom

Have the courage to take a path that may not be obvious to your peers. Any new idea invariably attracts the negative naysayer. Ignore comments like “It won’t work” or “It’s never been done that way before.” When entrepreneurs overly rely on conventional formulas for success, you become like everyone else, conventional.

The most successful entrepreneurs are willing to take risks and veer away from established formulas and accepted ways of thinking by disrupting the status quo.

Disruption, being different or applying differentiation is one of the key drivers of commercial success. By nature, successful entrepreneurs donĂ­t follow best practice they create it. This is achieved by differentiating across a number of areas including the design of the business model as well as the design of branding, products, work environment and even customer service experiences.

The case studies of Irelands top entrepreneurs prove that applying these strategies in imaginative, clever and timely ways can help catapult a small start-up into becoming the next market leader. So don’t waste a good crisis. Get out there today and ignite an entrepreneurial spirit that creates jobs, inspires people and propels new economic growth.

Jonathan Amm is the Co-Founder and Marketing Director at ThinkTank -a catalytic consultancy specialising in strategic marketing, branding and innovation based in Cork.