Most entrepreneurs look for new markets, new spaces with audiences of consumers who are desperate for new solutions to their problems. Building a business in an untouched environment is much easier because there is more room for creativity and less competition for consumers’ attention. This is particularly true in the fields of construction and architecture, where developing an untouched swath of land is much more straightforward than working in an established urban area.
Yet, venturing into new spaces is not right for every entrepreneur. In architecture and real estate, the so-called built environment can be rife with opportunities for success — and here’s how to navigate it.
What Is the Built Environment?
The natural environment consists of those spaces where flora and fauna flourish and where people venture only occasionally to enjoy the scenery and fresh air. In contrast, the built environment is almost completely engineered by human hands; it is made up of buildings as well as roads, bridges, electrical and water lines and other elements of living, working and recreational spaces. In short, the built environment is another term for cities and towns — places where people have created a new environment for themselves.
Many diverse types of workers care about the development of the built environment. Certainly those working within the fields of architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning are concerned with creating and organizing the built environment for practicality as well as beauty. However, public health officials also pay attention to how built environments function, and sociologists and anthropologists have much to learn about human societies from the built environments they generate.
Most entrepreneurs work within the built environment, even if they do not realize it. Though they might venture into new figurative territory in targeting new audiences or offering new products, entrepreneurs nonetheless typically take advantage of the established resources within towns and cities. However, it takes a unique kind of entrepreneur to find business opportunities as they pertain directly to the built environment. Those with architecture and urban planning or real estate experience might enroll in entrepreneurship courses online to better understand challenges and solutions of the built world.
Look for Problems in the Built Environment
An entrepreneur’s first step in building a new business is to look for problems they can address with a business’ products or services — and in the built environment, it is especially important to identify problems before generating solutions. Entrepreneurs need to fully understand an issue before they can be certain of the right course for resolving that issue, which is true in the exceedingly complex system of the built environment.
It is important to note that consumer interest is not the same as an identified problem. Consumers might readily engage with business ideas for adding new green spaces in certain parts of the city, but if plenty of green spaces already exist in those areas, an entrepreneur will not be fixing any new or unaddressed need. In contrast, if home insurance rates are high because regional flooding has been ignored, built-world entrepreneurs might have an important role.
Some common problems across built environments tend to be:
- Excessive consumption of energy or water
- Unnecessary production of waste
- Insufficient residential space
- Sub-optimal transportation routes
- Threat of damage from natural disasters
Entrepreneurs who can solve major problems like these will make money, and perhaps more importantly, they will improve the living conditions of the people within the built environment.
Consider Design-based Solutions for the Built Environment
There are a few requirements from an entrepreneur looking to design a solution in the built environment. First, they must fully understand the problem they have identified. Thoroughly researching the issue to find the problem’s various causes and talking to community members within the environment to determine what consumers want and need are both critical steps in reaching a profitable solution. Entrepreneurs with education and background in built-world careers, will likely be more confident and capable of establishing businesses in this field. Finally, entrepreneurs need to employ creativity and innovation, as problems in the built environment are not usually easy to resolve.
It is possible to find new opportunities for business growth and development even in old, established spaces. The built environment is ripe for entrepreneurship, so entrepreneurs with the right skills and determination can find success.