Recognizing Your Opportunities

"I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one" - Mark Twain

“The secret to success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes” - Benjamin Disraeli

You just might be surprised how much opportunity is actually out there when you start to look. When you work on and start to change your perspective, and begin to look at things in a different light or from different angles and listen to different viewpoints, then you're starting to get on the right track to seeing opportunity.

An opportunity is a favorable set of circumstances that creates a need for a new Product, Service or Business. Identifying and capturing new opportunities always requires strategic change and the nature of strategic change always disrupts comfort zones.

What is a comfort zone? First and foremost it is a mental state in which people lose the momentum to pursue a vision, because they have accepted where they are as the best they need to be or do. That is why change is a big deal to people, and is so difficult to achieve. Over the years, I've learned that nothing very interesting or innovative ever emerges from a comfort zone, except more plans to make the comfortable more comfortable.

The pain that accompanies change can be financial, physical, or emotional, but regardless of the type of discomfort created by change, recession and hard economic times demand that you embrace it if you intend to remain competitive and effective.

There are 3 ways to identify an opportunity:

1. Observing Trends

Trends create opportunities for entrepreneurs to pursue. The most important trends are:
  • Economic forces.
  • Social forces.
  • Technological advances.
  • Political action and regulatory change.
It’s important to be aware of changes in these areas.

2. Solving a problem

Sometimes identifying opportunities simply involves noticing a problem and finding a way to solve it.

These problems can be pinpointed through observing trends and through more simple means, such as intuition, serendipity, or change.

3. Finding gaps in the market place

A third approach to identifying opportunities is to find a gap in the marketplace.
  • A gap in the marketplace is often created when a product or service is needed by a specific group of people but doesn’t represent a large enough market to be of interest to mainstream retailers or manufacturers.
As an entrepreneur for over 20 years, and as the co-founder and shareholder of 12 companies over that time period, I am always looking for opportunities. I look for the opportunity to:
  • meet and network with new and interesting people
  • start a new business in my target areas of interest
  • acquire more investment property
  • learn more about something I am interested in
  • enjoy life and spend more time with my family
  • introduce people to what I do and explore the opportunities that exist in the marketplace
  • make more money
There are two ways that most people fail to recognize opportunity. The first way is by not having an open mind towards new ideas on what is possible with regards to being successful and making money. The second reason is needing to know EXACTLY HOW we will achieve our goals. If you want to know every little detail and every step that needs to be taken before making a decision, you sometimes end up in what is known as “analysis paralysis”. When this happens the opportunity before you is usually long gone before you have made a decision on whether you want to take advantage of it or not. According to Dr. Martin Luther King you need to “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase before you take the first step”.

To take advantage of opportunities as they arise you must:

1. Know what you want (this is the hardest part)
2. Make a decision to do something about it
3. When you make a decision, stick with it
4. When there is evidence that your decision is wrong, change it
5. Never look back

So get a vision of what you want your future to look like. Then trust in yourself and your abilities and take a step of faith and take action, no matter what your circumstances, your friends or your worries are telling you.

If you are tempted to give up or get discouraged, remember that the temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed. All success is based on long-term commitment, faith, discipline, attitude and a few stepping stones along the way. You might not like the stone you are on right now, but it’s sure to be one of the stepping stones that lead to great opportunities in the future. In order to succeed you have to start before you are ready.
Today’s the day... seize your opportunity.

P.S. The pictures below show Warren Buffet and I in 1994 at a baseball game in Omaha Nebraska. This was a time when very few people knew who who he was. What a great opportunity to spend a little time with the world's greatest investor.