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Young: Searching for an opportunity
How many times have, while we sat at our desks or when driving our cars, caught ourselves daydreaming about creating an entrepreneurial venture from a germ of an idea?
We cross paths with people everyday who fantasize about that, about embarking on an entrepreneurial journey of their own. But with the dream comes the ever-present hesitancy that arises due to the inherent risks associated with it.
But make no mistake, entrepreneurship is liberating and empowering, and it’s quite possible to eliminate some of the risks if one zealously engages in a sensible, strategic entrepreneurial process.
Such a process should always begin with a search for the right venture idea for you, where you can ultimately source funding and establish a structure for you to exploit the opportunity in the marketplace.
Such a process may, at first glance, appear simple and straightforward, but there are some crucial elements within each step of the journey that do empower aspiring entrepreneurs to minimize risk and, ultimately, embrace a successful launch.
The world is full of ideas, virtually limitless—there are no lack of opportunities, perhaps more now than as ever been in the case in our country’s history.
For clarity, when I talk about an opportunity, I refer to an idea worth pursuing. Entrepreneurial opportunities arise from social and technological changes within our society.
The changes we’re going through now—both socially and technologically, in both magnitude and rate—are definitely greater than we’ve ever experienced.
So where is that next million dollar idea hiding, waiting to be discovered?
The answer is within you. Remember, my old dictums—an entrepreneur looks at the world the same as everyone else but thinks differently.
An entrepreneur looks at the world and sees solutions instead of continuing problems.
But a great idea alone doesn’t logically guarantee success. An entrepreneur needs to be able to recognize when a concept has a realistic and potentially realizable chance to become something tangible, to “ hit it out of the park.”
So, opportunity recognition is the mantra of clear choice for our entrepreneurial expedition.
How do you recognize this idea that you hope becomes an opportunity for you? What exactly does this little creature look like?
It does, in reality, have to do with analyzing both the product or service in relation to the market you hope it will serve, and to explore how those two elements might intersect favourably. I have assembled over the years prior to our move to the Okanagan, and to assist my Saskatchewan clients, associates, friends and students, an Opportunity Screening Guide that will take a bagful of ideas and filter the good from the not so good with a desired outcome of discovering one or two ideas that may logically be moved to a business plan milestone toward venture launch.
I have always said to everyone that if your perceived idea can’t make it through my screening guide safely, then perhaps you should abandon that dream and find a new idea.
An idea is an opportunity when it is attractive, durable, timely and anchored in a product or service that creates or adds value for its end user.
The most successful entrepreneurs are opportunity-focused; they start their journey into the entrepreneurial world with a focus on what the customer and the marketplace wants and needs and never lose sight of these points.
Consider these aspects of the planning process:
We are looking for a potential set of customers in the marketplace who may be currently underserved (such as our aging population) and who may be looking for a particular product or service to fill a specific need that they have.
Such a product or service that adds value to people’s lives is the foundation of a successful entrepreneurial venture and will assist in the product or service selling itself.
Always a Joel favourite, as my friends and colleagues will attest, as being passionate about your new product or service increases your ability and enthusiasm to market it.
It also makes it easier to endure the tough times and testing moments of establishing and building your venture. Because you are passionate about your new dream venture, it becomes easier because it has meaning and purpose for you, and you are far more likely to persevere when others may stumble.
Being passionate also means you will be more inclined to build your skills, expertise and understanding of the particular product or service you are intending to take to the market.
We all develop certain skills through the experiences of our life and our career/job paths.
Most people with then try to match those learned skills with a market need to create their opportunity.
When launching an entrepreneurial venture, one can draw on a far broader range of skills and experiences to add value to their journey in the marketplace.
Last but definitely not least, access to relevant resources can make the venture launch a reality and even contribute to providing the aspiring entrepreneur with a competitive advantage.
So if you have an entrepreneurial dream, exploring the content of today’s column can help inspire you to think, act and behave entrepreneurially in your investigation of the entrepreneurial option in your life. Best of luck.
Joel Young is founder of the Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society.