I have been anxious to present to existing and aspiring entrepreneurs some thoughts about the “front-end” of the entrepreneurial process—the opportunity.
A common question I often receive from would-be inventors and budding entrepreneurs is how and where does one find real problems to solve and ideas that can be translated to potential opportunities.
There is no easy way.
Any entrepreneurial venture exploration requires hard work, patience, dedication and definitely perseverance.
It is said that the world is chock full of limitless ideas and opportunities.
That may be so, but organization and planning at the beginning of the journey will pay handsomely with the outcome results.
There are books, magazines, manufacturers directories, employee workplaces, personal interests and experiences, family, friendships and existing employment environments—all of which may contribute to the atmosphere for your investigative research for what may determine will become an opportunity.
Let’s all recognize that business of any nature starts with a customer.
For inventor-entrepreneurs, a great approach to new venture development is to find someone who’ll pay you to develop something they need and let you have the privilege thereafter to sell to others.
If you cannot find someone to pay you to do what you wish to – don’t give up until you’ve absolutely brainstormed and researched the subject area thoroughly and exhausted all possibilities that you are on the road to “opportunity” for you.
Then, your next best milestone is to search for potential customers who have an absolute need or at a minimum, a very strong interest in what you have to offer.
For example, an aging population requires rehabilitation devices to assist their disabling changes.
A key to this slant is to qualify the perceived need by talking to potential customers or clients.
If I had a product that would provide a benefit or solution to your perceived need, would you be interested? How interested? At what price?
Let the potential customers and clients in the marketplace be part of the solution.
Don’t underestimate the attraction for partnering.
It’s one thing to find opportunities that you have analyzed and evaluated and then convinced yourself they are worth pursuing, it’s quite another to take advantage of them.
That requires preparation—understanding what’s needed to succeed in venture creation and developing, arranging, lining up relationships and resources that will allow you to act when the time is right.
And please believe it, that meticulous preparation turns up more opportunities for reasons that I cannot explain.
But they arrive at your doorstep with a willingness to have you embrace them firmly.
Now you are at a cross-road, ready to charge ahead. You must never neglect nor ignore the essentials for exploiting opportunities that come your way.
These are the fundamental business skills from which all else flows in the world of new venture development. Without them and your focused attention, any attempt to launch and succeed with an entrepreneurial venture is doomed for failure.
A simplistic recipe for skills necessary for entrepreneurial achievement are the skill to invent, create new products/services that address a need in the marketplace; the skill to deliver them, consistently and reliably with quality, service and price; the marketing/sale skill to sell and the skill to make a profit performing the three previous skill sets.
The other crucially important part of preparing for this mystery world of the entrepreneurial opportunity is preparing yourself.
Force open your eyes, set some realistic and realizable goals, and most of all, build a can-do mindset.
After all, attitude and behaviour are the friends of innovation and creativity. Together they transform you into a true budding, and hopefully, genuine Okanagan entrepreneur for all the world to see.
Eliminate words like “should” and “can’t” from your vocabulary and your thinking. Don’t let yourself get trapped into other people’s norms and notions.
Of course, don’t get trapped in your own notions, either. Recognize that your knowledge, education and experience may constitute solutions to yesterdays problems.
The final part of your preparation for the mystery journey is to quit preparing and act. My grandmother used to say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
We can possess the most beautiful work of art business plan and exhaust all realms of opportunity analysis and evaluation, but get on the ball and start finding out what works and what doesn’t.
And finally, don’t be afraid to fail, for from failures often come our greatest successes, painful as it may be at times.
A key to successful entrepreneuring is to speed up those little disconcerting failures and learn from them. The world of entrepreneurship awaits you. First, prepare, look, act, then prosper. I’ll be watching for you, and by the way, the mystery isn’t really a mystery at all, is it?