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6 strategies for attracting business opportunity leads

Business opportunity leads: small biz owners looking at phone

Key takeaways

  • A business opportunity lead is an individual or company interested in pursuing a business venture
  • There are multiple types of business opportunity leads, including investors, franchise seekers, entrepreneurs, and those seeking a joint venture
  • To create a sales funnel of business opportunity leads, adjust your marketing to target two audiences: potential customers and other small business owners

When a business owner hears the term “lead,” they often picture potential customers walking through their doors. However, sometimes leads—specifically business opportunity leads—are actually other businesses.

Small businesses are the backbone of the economy. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 5.1 million U.S. business applications were filed in 2022 (and 5.4 million in 2021). Translation: If you’re a small business owner, there are many potential business opportunity leads out there.

Learn more about different types of business opportunity leads, potential lead sources, and lead generation strategies you can use to uncover new business opportunities.

What is a business opportunity lead?

A business opportunity lead is a person or company seeking to explore a new business venture.

Many times, business opportunity leads are entrepreneurs, franchise owners, or investors. However, leads for business opportunities could be any individual or organization looking to launch a mutually beneficial partnership with your business.

For example:

  • If you own a T-shirt printing business, a local boutique owner might approach you about selling your products in their storefront
  • If you own a coffee shop, a local apartment complex might solicit you about opening a second location in their lobby
  • If you own a fitness studio, a physical therapist might approach you about renting your gym during off-peak hours
  • If you own a successful home furnishings ecommerce site, an investor might approach you about opening your first brick-and-mortar shop

While business opportunity leads come in all forms, the bottom line remains the same: Two entrepreneurs or entities partner up to scale their respective ventures.

The difference between a lead and a business opportunity lead

The line between leads and business opportunity leads can often become blurred, so it’s important to outline a few key distinctions:

  • Leads: A lead is a potential client for an existing offering, whether it’s a product or a service. A lead sits at the top of the sales funnel and might be relatively unfamiliar with your unique competitive edge.
  • Business opportunity leads: A business opportunity lead is an entrepreneur or an existing business. They are interested in launching a new business offering and want to join forces with you to do so.

What are different types of business opportunity leads?

business opportunity leads: Business owners checking new stock

Business opportunity leads aim to partner with your business on a new venture. How this partnership takes shape determines the type of business opportunity seeker lead you’re dealing with. Here’s a closer look at a few examples.

Entrepreneurial starters

Entrepreneurial starters are individuals looking to launch their own business. These folks are in the beginning startup phase and may be looking for advice, investments, or sales to mutual customers.

Entrepreneurial starters might approach you with several business opportunities:

  • Asking you to invest in their startup in exchange for a percentage of business ownership
  • Proposing a barter exchange where they set up shop in your storefront and pay a portion of your rent
  • Looking for mentorship opportunities and offer free marketing services or a percentage of proceeds in exchange for your advice
  • Hoping to become a preferred vendor for your business, aiming to sell their products or services to you

Collaborating with other local businesses was a way for us to extend our reach and meet and create more and more regulars, but it was also a way for the businesses that we were partnering with to experiment in ways that they might not have been able to by themselves.

Kai Talim, co-owner of Persimmon Coffee

Franchise seekers

Franchise seekers are business owners hoping to transform a single location into a multi-shop business. These individuals seek the value and potential in your business and want to expand your brick-and-mortar to meet new potential customers.

Franchise seekers aim to preserve the branding, product offering, and level of service provided by your original location. The end goal is that a customer could visit any franchise location and remain equally satisfied with their purchase. Ideally, changes between franchise locations will be minimal, such as a change of location and change in management.

Franchise seekers might aim to:

  • Transform a standalone business into a franchise, thereby growing from one location to two (or more)
  • Add a new business inside an existing store; for example, if you own a business creating homemade jewelry, you could do a pop-up within a local boutique or art studio


Investors look to invest capital into an existing business. Investors see the potential for a venture to grow but know the business owner might lack funds to scale quickly or keep up with increasing demand. Therefore, they give the owner funds in exchange for a percentage of the business.

Examples of when an investor might pose a lucrative business opportunity:

  • When an existing business is so successful they run out of stock and need extra capital in order to keep up with production
  • When a service-based business has no open appointments for new customers and needs extra funds to open a second location
  • When a business owner finds themselves without enough time to keep up with demand and needs extra cash flow to hire personnel

Learn more about financing your small business and pitching investors.

Joint venture

A joint venture is when two businesses pool their funds, expertise, and internal resources to accomplish a specific task. In a joint venture, each company offers their own unique expertise, technology, and product knowledge to ensure the success of the partnership.

Joint ventures come in various forms, including:

  • Function-based joint venture: This type of joint venture typically involves two companies joining forces to produce a single product. For example, a local grocer and a coffee shop might partner to produce a bottled ice coffee drink.
  • Vertical joint venture: A vertical joint venture involves two complementary businesses offering their products and/or services within the same supply chain. For example, a photographer might become the preferred vendor for a wedding venue, and both businesses promote each other to the same clientele.
  • Horizontal joint venture: A horizontal joint venture includes a partnership between companies that might otherwise be competitors. For example, two local breweries might team up to release a limited-edition brew to sell to current customers.

6 quality business opportunity lead generation strategies

People getting smoothies from a food truck

As a small business owner, you already know qualified leads rarely appear on your doorstep. Instead, finding customers in your target market usually requires various digital marketing and advertising strategies.

The same can be said for cultivating potential business opportunity leads. To foster relationships with aspiring entrepreneurs or scaling businesses, consider the following six lead gen tactics.

1. Shift your content marketing focus

When generating business opportunity leads, keep in mind that you’re now marketing to two distinct audiences.

If your content marketing plan targets your ideal customer, you might need to broaden your focus and write high-quality articles targeting entrepreneurs. Consider writing a search engine optimized (SEO) blog series sharing all the lessons you learned as a first-time business owner, thereby attracting other entrepreneurs in your industry.

2. Launch a networking event

As the saying goes, things are lonely at the top. Translation: Business owners can’t discuss the struggles of entrepreneurship with their employees. Therefore, you might be looking to have these tough conversations with other small business owners.

Fill the void by launching a business owner networking event (such as a golf outing, happy hour, or book club) at your business. Industry colleagues can gather to pose questions, exchange network marketing leads, swap ideas, and share their future ambitions.

Hear from Cate Luzio, CEO of Luminary, on how to propel your small business by building community.

3. Ask your friends or current clients

Pursuing warm leads (i.e., sales leads that already have a connection to your company) is typically more fruitful than cold calling. Therefore, when pursuing new business opportunities, start with your existing network.

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing strategies in existence. If you’re looking to cultivate new leads, don’t hesitate to ask trusted friends, colleagues, or clients for a referral. They might know of a local business owner looking to invest, franchise, or start a joint venture with your brand.

4. Launch a free email course

Email marketing is effective for generating leads. With an expertly crafted email campaign, you can share industry knowledge, feature new products or services, or write about your competitive advantage.

That said, before you can attract business opportunities through your email campaign, you’ll need to attract subscribers. To build your email list, consider creating a free guide, webinar, or e-course targeting other business owners in your area. By sharing high-quality, valuable content for free, you can develop your own lead list for business opportunities.

5. Claim your business on Yelp

When searching for new business opportunities, remember this: A fellow entrepreneur can’t fall in love with your business if they don’t know it exists.

To connect with other small business owners, claim or add your free Yelp Business Page. You can share your contact information (store hours, phone number, and website URL), upload photos, respond to messages in real time, and respond to user reviews. Plus, you never know when a potential investor or franchise seeker could scope out your page on Yelp.

Take a journey with Miriam Fried, owner of MF Strong, as she sets up her Yelp Page in less than 30 minutes and attracts her very first in-person clients.

Get a free Yelp Page

Promote your business to local customers.

Verify my free listing

6. Launch a social media campaign

Social media marketing is an effective tool for connecting with other small business owners. Rather than only promoting your own products or selling to your target audience, consider writing posts explicitly for other entrepreneurs. For example, you might write a blog post explaining how to establish an LLC, how to attract loyal customers, or the biggest mistakes you made during your first year in business. With social media platforms like LinkedIn, you can share thought leadership content targeting small business owners in your area.

5 lead nurturing strategies for business opportunities

store owners researching business opportunity leads

The best leads—whether you’re targeting a new customer or potential business opportunity—are those you’ve nurtured over time. High-quality leads are those who understand your product or service, competitive edge, and business goals. As such, when tailoring your outreach strategies to target potential business opportunities, remember that relationship-building takes time.

To transform a cold lead into a qualified one, consider the following steps.

1. Do your research

The first step in cultivating new business opportunity leads is to qualify them. Do your research to understand their investment capacity, interest level, and entrepreneurial experience. In other words, uncover whether the business has the funds, interest, and experience necessary to pursue a business venture with you.

2. Use a CRM system

A customer relationship management (CRM) platform is a complex database where you can store contact information for potential clients, business opportunities, vendors, and other stakeholders. With a CRM system, you can log activities, store metrics, make notes, and track your interactions with business opportunity leads as they flow down the pipeline.

3. Uncover current pain points

As you launch a marketing campaign that targets entrepreneurs, remember that developing a business partnership is a two-way street. While you want to talk about your own products, services, or competitive edge, you also want to take the opportunity to learn about other small business owners.

Ask questions and uncover their current pain points. Try to understand what problems they aim to solve with a new partnership. From there, you can tailor your content (including emails, landing pages, and even an FAQ section on your website) directly to their questions and concerns.

4. Take the conversation offline

Once you’ve educated leads on your business, it might be time for an in-person conversation. Visit one another’s businesses, view each other’s product lineups, and discuss how you might work together in the future.

5. Speak to your compliance department

A new business opportunity comes with legal implications. Once you and a fellow business owner know which type of venture you wish to pursue, it’s time to contact your respective legal departments. A lawyer will walk you through ethical business practices, disclosures, and legal requirements for all parties.

Uncover new leads for business opportunities

A business opportunity lead is an individual or business interested in partnering in a new venture. Leads for business opportunities come in different forms, including investors, franchise seekers, and business owners looking to pursue a joint venture.

Nurturing a business opportunity lead is not unlike nurturing a typical business lead. By doing your research, launching a targeted campaign, storing activities in a CRM system, and investing in the relationship, you can discover a lucrative business opportunity.

For more ideas on how to boost your marketing efforts, check out these lead generation tools to accelerate growth for your small business.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.