Wouldn’t business be great if we knew exactly where the opportunities lie? Where there are buyers looking for our goods and services? When demand will peak or when competition will heat up?

Unfortunately, there are no crystal balls for predicting business patterns and developments. We just have to stay alert and attuned to the trading environment.

And often, opportunities lie in areas we can’t predict.

One simple thing like a policy change can shake up purchasing habits overnight. Remember when government departments started going “green” and mandated a switch to hybrid cars? How good must it have been to have product that met the spec – and to be able to command a decent price for it because there weren’t many alternatives?

It’s not just local decisions that can shape the market, which many local authorities will tell you as they deal with the fall-out of China’s ban on importing recyclables. After years spent encouraging residents to separate their waste, councils are suddenly faced with the challenge of finding a use for it now that they can’t export the recyclable component to China.

Some have opted for a short-term solution of dumping the material in landfill, much to the outrage of an environmentally aware public. Already, there are calls to legislate for a greener solution – but without any added costs that would be passed onto ratepayers. And when those calls are answered, they’ll have to look far and wide for a solution, because so many councils have had all their eggs in one basket for so long. That clearly presents an opportunity for Australian and New Zealand based suppliers who operate in this space, particularly those with strong eco-credentials.

And what may come from the growing tariff tensions between the United States and China? Australia and New Zealand have strong ties with both and can potentially benefit as the tougher trade measures bite. Our goods and services may suddenly appear more competitive to both of our large trading partners. This would not only benefit direct suppliers, but also create opportunities for downstream vendors.

The business world changes in fast and often unpredictable ways. Markets can open up without warning. As a supplier, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse. If you want to cash in, you need to maintain a constant lookout for new opportunities. Buyers won’t come looking for you. You need to actively search for new business.

Sure, you could start cold-calling in the hope of striking it lucky. But there are more thorough and effective approaches, like maintaining a close and comprehensive watch on tender activity.

Every day, the market creates opportunities for competitive, quality suppliers. You just need to know where to look.