Opportunity is defined as a time or set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. An opportunity can only be valuable if it solves a problem or fulfils a need that exists. In other words, without a problem, there is no opportunity.
Finding an opportunity starts with identifying a need and looking for the solution. Sometimes the need is obvious, like a need to make more money. If that is the case can you help people make more money or show them a way to make more money? Once you can help people to make money the problem should be solved.
Opportunities are not always that obvious, you need to think outside the box and be far more creative in your approach. It does not have to be complicated, rather it should be simple and practical. Sometimes opportunities are in doing what others are doing, and perhaps doing it better than others do it, as the person with the ideas does not always have the best skills to implement the idea.
How do we find these opportunities? The only way to find these opportunities is to connect with people, listen to what they are saying, observe what they are doing and find out where the challenges are.
Imagine a gold rush, everyone always would like to find gold and get rich quick, but the person who is guaranteed to make consistent money is the person supplying the wheelbarrows.
Another example is the simple approach taken by a company like UBER, they did not improve the taxi industry, they simplified it. Opportunities come from realising how things can be simplified and made more efficient.
Listen, listen and listen some more, get people to share their stories with you, and observe them, so that you can find opportunities. Our learning never ends, but by listening and observing people you will always get a different perspective to the mainstream that all others are learning. This will give you the edge.
Traditionally our education systems teach us to look for gold rather than understanding that wheelbarrows are needed. We need a different kind of thinking to find real opportunities.