Gap is a word that I like to use a lot. Gaps beg to be filled. What is a gap? A gap is something that is missing or not yet offered. Most communities have their gaps in their various sectors. In art, one can look to the community cultural offerings and ask, “What is missing”? To understand what is missing and to fill the gap, there are a few things that can be useful:
- A knowledge of what has been done, to know what can be done.
- A knowledge of other communities’ cultural offerings. What are they doing that we are not?
- Who are the players and what possible collaborations might there be opportunity for?
- A desire to fill the gap that is perceived.
- A specific audience (or group) that one wants to appeal to. Without audience, there is no potential for success.
- A willingness to face innumerable obstacles and work to deal with, utilize or overcome each.
What is the benefit of filling a gap? When we fill a gap, we are addressing a need.
Interestingly enough, the Hero Journey, which is spoken about so passionately on this blog, typically begins with the prospective hero experiencing a gap (a gap in their lives, a gap from a lack of food, from a lack of love, from a lack of meaningful work, etc. Gaps come into our lives when we are changing, in need of change or growing. They herald adventure.
Entrepreneurship is certainly an adventure.
Carving out a niche for oneself is more or less carving out a unique spot in one’s society, culture, community. If one can operate successfully and find an audience in their niche pursuits, one increases their chances of making a living. Sometimes, carving out a niche for oneself can be very profitable, especially if there is limited competition and a high demand. If there are many players, we must compete.
If your niche creation is successful, more will come. Everyone is looking for opportunity, for a better life. If they see your niche success taking off, they will copy it and try to compete with you.
It is important to assess the lay of the land, perceiving threats or competition, prior to entering the market in the first place. There are only so many resources in the market. Who is gathering them? How are they doing so? How do we carve out our proverbial piece of the pie? Perceiving gaps is a great way. Even within your competitive circles, chances are the other businesses are doing things differently and have a different mission or goal–certainly a different way of going about things. Makes sense, as they are different people. So, how are each of the competitors (or players) separating themselves and how are they copying? What seems to be working in the market? What is missing?
Those game-changers who perceive considerable gaps and effectively work to cater to the demands of those who might be in that market, stand to be first to market and have that strategic advantage. Such gap-fillers have the potential to set the standard by which all copiers and adapters will be judged.
Jim Hart is the founder and Rektor of The International Theatre Academy Norway.