Where can an entrepreneur find growth? Sometimes growth can be found offering more products and services to existing customers. Sometimes growth can be found by taking your business into new markets. Other times growth can be found by looking at opportunities being missed by others.
In my experience, it can be frustrating for entrepreneurs to find profitable growth. It’s easy to spend money chasing ideas that sound good and look good on paper but it is really difficult to grow a company and be profitable. In fact, I think many entrepreneurs underestimate just how hard it is to build a profitable business, let alone grow one. The best growth opportunities are the ones that are overlooked by others. This is because pricing usually hasn’t been set by the market which means margins tend to be high until other businesses notice and begin to compete for customers. But how can entrepreneurs find these overlooked growth opportunities. Like any good idea, it’s usually obvious after it is discovered. Great entrepreneurs look at the world around them and then look for the spots that cause people frustration and inconvenience. Once identified they hard and fast to build out a solution and a customer base to quickly get theirs hands around the market before others notice. This is called “first mover advantage”.
A Canadian company, Upstream Data, has found an opportunity to run crypto currency mining devices using the natural gas that comes off of an oil well. When oil is being extracted from the ground, natural gas is a by-product that can be troublesome for oil producers to deal with. Many remote oil wells that are not tied into a pipeline network will burn the natural gas into the atmosphere or shut the well down because of laws and regulations. Upstream Data has found a way to use the excess natural gas to power a gas-electric generator that produces electricity which in turn is used to power cryptocurrency mining hardware. Utilizing mobile units that have an internet connection, Upstream Data is able to generate revenue by mining cryptocurrencies and share a portion of that revenue with oil producers. It’s an interesting problem to solve because oil companies have limits on what they can do with the gas, including how much gas they can vent, and cryptocurrency companies have limits on how much power they can access at an affordable price to power their mining hardware. Upstream data has solved two problems at once. Instead of throttling oil well production to ensure that gas venting stays within the law and regulations, oil producers can vent gas and earn additional revenue. Cryptocurrency mining devices require an economical source of power making useless vented gas from an oil well a great source. What one company throws away, another company finds profit in it.
Growth can come from anywhere. If you feel like you are struggling to find growth opportunities for your business, try looking around the marketplace for problems that your business could solve. Marginal growth opportunities are available to every business but opportunities with high margins are only available to the brave companies that pursue them until others do. Where will your next growth opportunity be?