I learn a process called Opportunity Search from my guru Alan Weiss years ago and he wrote a book titled “Entreprenovation”. Using the process, I came out with 10 business opportunities for 2013 for SMEs. As you go through the list you might not agree with every one of them, but please note that these are meant for the startups and does not include those that requires big capital and where only the bigger organizations can consider. Some of the areas brought up are not new, but I am of the opinion that 2013 will be a year of growth for these areas of opportunities. Nevertheless you are welcome to add to or minus from my list.

1) Area of opportunity: Organic and healthy food.

Idea: Hot healthy food delivery.

This is not a new area but the specific idea is to do lunch delivery of organic, vegetarian or healthy food in locations where finding such food would be a challenge. There is quite obviously an increasing population in this region who are getting more health-conscious and concerned about what they eat.

2) Area of Opportunity: Recreational and leisure area

Idea: Provide products and services catering for those who want to embark on a healthier pastime such as biking, running and the outdoors.

There would be specific target groups who would spend time and money to find healthier pastimes beyond work and the traditional indulgences. This group would be growing and the appetite for specialized services and products will grow be significant. Mountain biking and marathon running are examples worth looking into.

3) Area of Opportunity: Mobile Apps

Idea: Provide Mobile Apps for Businesses

By 2014 more people would access the internet through their mobile device than through the computer. Small businesses will realize that the way to beat the big boys is to get into inexpensive technology faster than the bigger players and get a bite of the market share before they wakes up. Mobile apps for business have been proven to increase customer retention and acquisition. The year 2013 will see the growth of mobile apps as the cost of developing mobile apps becomes more affordable.

4) Area of opportunity: Environmental Health

Idea: Provide products that keep homes environmentally safe and healthy

Recent reports of more than 800,000 people in China who died from pollution related ailments and disease in 2012 and more of such similar reports, strike a chord in the increasingly health conscious society. As people begin to realize that the first line of defense for a healthier body is what they eat, drink and breathe, products that serve to ensure pollution-free air, healthier drinking water and toxins-free and chemical-free food would see a boom.

5) Area of opportunity: Home Renovation and interior design.

Idea: Provide highly customized renovation products and interior design services catering to specific needs of individuals

The affluent will continue to spend money on their home renovation and interior design. However there is a trend of people who want to have a home that is their ‘Own” creation, using their own concept and ideas. There is a growing aspiration of people to design their own homes and be able to claim that. Their home becomes their ‘art’ and they want it to be special and unique to their style and personal preference. The term “co-creation” comes into play; so interior designers should consider how to make that happen.

6) Area of Opportunity: The Pet’s business

Idea: From Pet grooming to Pet funeral services

More and more young people are rearing pets and would spend lavishly on their pet’s needs. From cats and dogs to exotic pets, the market is growing continuously. The key is to take one specialized area and expand to be the market leader in it. I have a dog in my house recently and I am convinced that he gets better care than me.

7) Area of Opportunity: Self-Development and Self-awakening

Idea: Provide education and services catering to the needs for personal self-development as well as self-awakening.

The wide and varied personal needs of individuals looking for more meaning in their life and for finding self-fulfillment opens up a whole range of possible programs and products for individuals from numerology to self-hypnotism to DNA profiling to Passion testing. The internet platform makes these areas more viable and more financially sensible. I have a student who specializes in happiness training and I believe that he will soon be quite happy as this will soon  be a fast growing area.

8) Area of Opportunity: Temp staffing and free-lancing

Idea: Set up a platform to link people who don’t want a full time job with companies desperate to get competent help even if it is not permanent

As organization struggles with fresh graduates who are mostly not ready or capable to take on the jobs at hand as well as a Gen Y workforce that is extremely challenging to retain, the need to find new and creative ways to get the job done becomes critical to organizational success. Companies not used to engaging temp staff, free lancers and part-timers will have to begin to do so. This will be the nature of the workforce in the near future in this region.

I am aware that this is already available but I am suggesting that there are opportunities for specializing in the specific areas of help or skills including areas like graphic artist, copywriters, maids, Facebook marketing specialist, accounting and many other specialized areas.

9) Area of Opportunity: SAAS/ PAAS/ cloud computing for niche areas

Idea: Find pockets of process weakness in specific industry and develop software and IT infrastructure to help increase throughput of businesses or reduce cost.

There are still a lot of organizations particularly the SMEs in the region that have not fully tapped the power of IT and technology to improve business. There are two things happening which will make 2013 the year of growth. First is the fact that more and more SMEs are now taken over by the next generation who are more educated and open to using IT s a business enhancer. This coupled with the advent of SAAS(software as a Service) , PAAS( Platform as a Service) and cloud computing thus making the initial cost of entry lower and more plausible.

10) Area of opportunity: Health empowerment

Idea: Provide education, information and self-administrated products or services that would enable the user to take charge of their own health

As health becomes a major concern in society and skepticism of traditional methods of health care and medical care escalates, there is an increasing demand for more information and education on health as it can been seen by the numerous amount of health periodicals and seminars. This coupled with the fact that the typical filial son and daughters who would hope to diminish their sense of guilt for not spending enough time with their parents by buying expensive products and gadgets to help improve the quality of their parents’ life, especially their health.

This list is by no means exhaustive and I am sure there many more hot areas of opportunities in the market. If you need to explore any of the areas listed and like to find out more, you can send me a note through [email protected]

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