To find the right gaps, look for friction
A lot of times people believe they should look for a market gap, a place that they can squeeze in. What is a gap? It’s empty space. It’s a market that isn’t catered to. Sound good? Not necessarily. A gap is of no use to you if it isn’t causing friction. People won’t spend money to fill the gap unless it’s causing them problems, and pain. People spend money to get rid of friction, not to fill gaps.
For example, I might invent a completely new type of underwear that you need to wear on top of your head. There’s a huge gap in the market because nobody is selling this now. But would it solve any problem? Is it providing some service that will eliminate friction? Will it remove pain and replace it with gain?
On the other hand, if you can fill a gap that is going to remove a lot of friction, that’s a good opportunity. For example, Sara Blakely found an opportunity with Spanx, underwear which restricts women who don’t have bulky lines. That was a gap with friction. Eliminating that friction provided a valuable service.
How do you find good gaps to fill? By looking for friction. The gap could be an opportunity if it has enough friction and no currently available solution.
Looking for friction is easier than looking for gaps. Why? Since a gap is empty space, sometimes it’s hard to see. If you’re looking for a hole, how do you see it? Friction is much easier to see.
Opportunity is a value discovery process. Friction is the opposite of value. Friction destroys value. The more you can convert friction into value, the more you can create value for yourself, as well as for the customer.
If you’re currently selling a solution that doesn’t address much friction, then how much value are you actually creating? What’s the solution? Don’t just look for gaps, it’s hard to see empty space. Look for severe friction in your customer’s environment. If you can transform it into value, that could be a great opportunity for both of you.