How To Spot An Opportunity To Innovate

Timing and genius. And a little bit of luck.

We’ve all done it. Turned on the TV or logged onto a news website and seen a story where a person or company has invented something new and struck gold. In years gone by it was only really wealthy people who got lucky in this way - a money makes money kind of thing. But nowadays thanks to various R&D grant funding avenues and of course the worldwide web, the sky’s the limit. Your background and how much is in your bank account no longer matter.

The fact is that hugely successful money spinning inventions are largely about timing and genius. And of course a generous helping of luck. But how on earth did they come up with such an amazing idea that’s now earning them millions?

#1. Spotting the weaknesses in what already exists

Sometimes there are dominant players in the market and they’re doing spectacularly well - but things aren’t always as they seem. Nothing is perfect, and you can bet there are things that are missing or could be better in their offerings. The trick is in finding them.

Facebook is a good example of this. When it came along, social media wasn’t a brand new concept. Indeed, MySpace was the big name out there, but it lacked certain functionality and Facebook started to fill in the gaps. Essentially, it took what MySpace did and made it better.

Customers are the best way to find out where improvements are needed in an existing product, so your new idea stands out. Market research, surveys, comments, promotions are all your friend here.

#2. Grabbing new market opportunities

The market place is where the best opportunities are found. Whatever field you operate in, the market will be constantly changing so will need to be checked up on regularly. Is there a greater or lesser demand for a particular product or service all of sudden? As the coronavirus pandemic has shown us, consumer behaviour can change fast. When you spot a change, what are the reasons behind it and how can it best be exploited to make money?

#3. Understanding changes in public concerns and perceptions

Populations change, as do the issues they care about and how they feel about certain products and brands overall. Companies must never ignore this, otherwise they risk becoming old fashioned and outdated.

Religion is one example of this, where over the years we’ve become more aware and more tolerant of how others live their lives. When you do your grocery shopping for instance, there’s a wide range of kosher and halal foods that reflect our diverse society. Advertising has changed to be more inclusive too, in a way that we would never have seen perhaps 30 or 40 years ago.

#4. Being clear on ‘process need’

Process need is when you look at your existing company to identify any processes that aren’t as effective or efficient as they could be. You then work to improve them from within your existing capabilities and ways of conducting business.

A good example of this could well be something simple, like noting your courier partner has become slow and expensive so you replace it with a better one. Not only does this speed up your operation but leads to fewer customer complaints.

#5. Spotting changes in regulation and guidance

All firms need to watch out for this one, as regulations and guidance in all industries and for all products are updated often.

Deregulation is one example of this. When an industry is deregulated, it tends to open up the market to lots of new companies who get in early and do very well from it. It’s often the chance for serious cash to be made.

#6. Having a thirst for knowledge

Technology moves on fast, bringing with it a wealth of new opportunities. The internet of course is the big one.

But new knowledge comes about in all sorts of ways, allowing us to constant reinvent ourselves and improve our business processes. Companies that pay attention to both academic and industry research, alongside their own investment in R&D, will mean innovation flows freely, thus driving success.

#7. Understanding the demographics

Smart organisations take demographics very seriously in order to find chances to innovate. Our populations change all the time, with age ranges, income, and socio-economic levels constantly changing.

“Baby boomers” (those born in the decade after the Second World War) are one of the most affluent groups. They are targeted by many companies thanks to their typically higher levels of disposable income. Only by being armed with the latest demographic trends and data can opportunities to innovate truly become apparent.

Don’t forget R&D Tax Credits

If your company has recently carried out any innovative R&D projects involving any scientific or technological discoveries then good news - R&D Tax Credits can alleviate the cost.

The R&D Tax Credit scheme is administered by HMRC and is designed to put money back in the pockets of innovative businesses. This is achieved either by reducing their Corporation Tax liability, or as a cash injection for companies that have made a loss.

The relief can be claimed by any UK company of any size and in any industry. It’s generous too with SMEs able to claim up to 33 pence for every £1 of R&D expenditure, which can help with costs including staff wages, employer’s NIC and pension contributions, overheads, materials subcontractor payments and more.

Don’t pass up this lucrative tax incentive! See our R&D Tax Credits page for more details and how to apply.

How the Tax Cloud can make all the difference

Tax Cloud UK was created by Myriad Associates, a boutique, highly specialised R&D funding consultancy. It’s a fast, easy way of inputting your own company’s figures to generate an accurate, optimised claim ready that’s verified by us before submission. And of course, we’re on hand any time you need us.

Sign up to the free Tax Cloud portal for businesses today or get in touch with our friendly expert team on 0207 360 4437. If you’d prefer, you can also use our contact page and we’ll ring you back.

Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA
Author Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA CEO, Tax Cloud
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Myriad are the creators of Tax Cloud, we help enterprises navigate, apply and secure tax incentives and grants. We specialise in R&D Tax Credits, Creative Tax Reliefs, Innovate UK grants, Horizon Europe grants, and R&D Capital Allowance Claims.

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Meet some of the team behind Tax Cloud

Barrie Dowsett Barrie Dowsett ACMA CGMA Chief Executive Officer
Jillian Chambers Jillian Chambers Technical Analyst/Writer
Lauren Olson Lauren Olson Technical Analyst Manager
Rabia Mohammad Rabia Mohammad Corporate Tax Associate