What is White Space?
You may have heard the term “white space” in the context of art and design meaning the portions of the painting or other art form that are left blank. It is a very important concept in those fields because often the white space is what makes the piece flow.
When I talk about white space here, I mean white space in business. White space is a catchall term for the portions of the market that are not being catered to, the products and services that don’t exist, the place where needs are not being met. White space is what does not already exist or what does exist but could be better.
Entrepreneurs are set apart from everyone else because they are always looking for white space. Just to be clear, being an entrepreneur does not mean you have to start your own company. There are plenty of opportunities within your current job to find white space and meet an unmet need.
Whether you are a business owner, an aspiring business owner, an employee at a company, or still a student, you can benefit from shifting your mindset towards trying to find white space. You don’t need a revolutionary new invention, all you need to do is find the white space and seize the opportunity. When you start to think like this you will see opportunities everywhere.
Let me give you a couple examples:
You may tell yourself, there is already a nail salon in my town so I can’t open one. But consider founder Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, she wanted not just a place to get her nails done, but also a place where she could grab a nice coffee or tea, shop self care products, and feel completely relaxed. So, she created Chill House, a 360 degree self care haven. There were already thousands of nail salons in New York City, but she saw a white space for people that wanted a full relaxation experience and she made it happen.
My company, Tini Lux, was born out of an unmet need in my life and the lives of friends. I had stopped wearing earrings in college because I had developed an allergy to the highly reactive metals that are generally used in fashion earrings. Because of that, every pair of earrings I tried on (even the ones labeled “hypoallergenic”) caused a painful reaction. I finally realized that there had to be a solution out there, but when I couldn’t find one, I decided to create my own.
I designed a line of earrings that were made with pure metals that do not cause allergies or reactions in humans. So, I could have told myself that there are thousands of earrings on the market already so I shouldn’t bother. But I understood that there was a white space there because although earrings already exist, there were none that worked for the 20% of the population with metal allergies.
As an Employee:
Before I launched my business, I worked for a very large company as an engineer. As a new engineer I had a lot to learn, but the training process was lacking and I constantly felt confused. For a long time I kept quiet because I thought I was the only one who was struggling. However, a few months later we hired another young engineer and I could see that he was struggling to find the resources he needed too. At the same time, many of the more experienced engineers were getting ready to retire and we feared that a lot of knowledge would leave with them.
At that point I came up with a plan to create a knowledge sharing and training program. My goal was that all the new engineers would have the resources they needed and the more experienced engineers would be able to pass on their knowledge more efficiently. The program has been very successful in bringing engineers up to speed faster. It also resulted in a living training repository that every new employee will benefit from.
- White space is unmet and under-served needs.
- Ignore the notion that once something exists there is no white space left. There may be room to innovate on the idea and do it better.
- Don’t tell yourself that the market is too saturated. There is always room for quality.
- If you already own a business, reach out to your customers, what do they want to see? What do they feel is missing?
- If you want to start a business, think about the pain points in your life or the things you, your friends, your neighbors regularly complain about or wish for. Is there an opportunity there?
- If you are an employee, what is your biggest complaint? What about your coworkers? Your customers? How can you make it better?