4. OPPORTUNITY – All Time Essentials for Entrepreneurs: 100 Things to Know and Do to Make Your Idea Happen

Chapter 4. OPPORTUNITY

"The entrepreneur is our visionary, the creator in each of us. We're born with that quality and it defines our lives as we respond to what we see, hear, feel, and experience. It is developed, nurtured, and given space to flourish or is squelched, thwarted, without air or stimulation, and dies."

Michael Gerber, 1936–

American author of motivational books and founder of E-Myth Worldwide, a business skills company aimed at entrepreneurs.

31: Find out who you are

  • Altrepreneurs look for a change of lifestyle and not just increased wealth. Their motivations are not for financial reward but a change of circumstances.

  • Solopreneurs are individual entrepreneurs, in business for themselves, motivated by money and the achievement of success on their own merit.

  • Entrepreneurs make money out of ever-changing market opportunities fuelled by the enjoyment of making a profit.

  • Ultrapreneurs or serial entrepreneurs actively reinvest their money into ever larger business ventures, not solely for financial gain but also for the enjoyment of the process.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit."

Aristotle, 384–322 bce

Greek philosopher, the first to create a comprehensive system of thought on morals and logic.

32: Do the research

You have the idea, now test the market. Conduct face-to-face interviews using tailored questionnaires directly with your target audience.

There are free online services that can help you create online questionnaires and collate the respondents' information into meaningful and beneficial reports. Take a look at:

  • www.smart-survey.co.uk

  • www.free-online-surveys.co.uk

  • www.dotmailer.com

Professional market research companies such as GfK NOP, Ipsos MORI and Gallup will conduct specific research for you – at a price. The benefit of this paid research is that your potential investors will believe it.

Prove that your idea is real by conducting in-depth, professionally presented research showing that the opportunity you've identified really exists.

"It isn't just what you know, and it isn't just who you know. It's actually who you know, who knows you, and what you do for a living."

Bob Burg, 1958–

American author and speaker specializing in entrepreneurial networking and sales skills.

33: Grow your personal network

Attend free seminars and business functions to meet people from outside your industry. You may find future clients and more effective suppliers among the crowd.

Local business organizations want to grow their own networks by asking people like you to attend their functions. Find out about the BNI, the Federation of Small Businesses and Business Angel Networks in your area.

Register with services such as Facebook, LinkedIn, HubPages, Twitter and Squidoo to grow your professional contacts list and opportunities for your business.

You have the opportunity to spend every morning and every evening networking, so pick and choose the networks that best suit your business needs.

"Sell a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach a man how to fish, you ruin a wonderful business opportunity."

Karl Marx, 1818–83

German philosopher, political economist and revolutionary, co-founder of Marxism and co-author of The Communist Manifesto.

34: Take every opportunity

If someone asks your advice when they want to purchase a product or service, be bold and say, "Yes, that is something we can deliver for you." Then go away and find a way to do it.

Finding willing clients for your product or service is a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating task. When the opportunity presents itself directly to you, the cost and effort of selling go down dramatically.

Take the opportunity and use your network of contacts to ensure that you deliver what you promise for your new-found client. Do it well to ensure repeat business and unprompted referrals.

"Research serves to make building stones out of stumbling blocks."

Arthur D. Little, 1863–1935

Chemist at MIT who discovered acetate and was co-founder of Arthur D. Little, an international management consulting firm that focuses on technology research.

35: Read a magazine

Most industries have both trade and consumer magazines full of articles by qualified and experienced writers. Do your research and educate yourself about your own industry.

Reading magazines can provide you with recent updates on what is happening in your chosen niche as well as the specific technical language needed to do business in your industry. If you are able to talk professionally about your new business, you become all the more credible in the eyes of suppliers and prospects.

Your customers and competitors in the industry are reading the same material, so use your new-found knowledge to gain insights, ideas and sales leads.

"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning."

Benjamin Franklin, 1706–90

Scientist, diplomat and political writer, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.

36: Create a scalable business

If you have seen an opportunity to do something better than other people, remember a very important rule: create the solution for everybody, not a product that solves a problem for you alone.

If you're developing a product, ensure that you can produce and sell it in sufficient quantity to enable economic production runs.

A scalable opportunity is exactly what potential investors in your business are looking for. Scalability implies a vehicle for growth as well as a long-term, profitable exit strategy for investors, which is a reason for them to be involved in the first place.

"Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity."

Louis Pasteur, 1822–95

French chemist and microbiologist, best known for inventing pasteurization, named in his honour.

37: Be tenacious

Tenacity (noun): To hold persistently to something, such as a point of view.

Ensure that you are doing everything necessary to demonstrate your unshakeable point of view, backed up by evangelical zeal.

Outward emotion and passion show your commitment to the project and tie others into the opportunity. Critics will try to dissuade you with thoughts of difficulty and hardship – this is where you have to be strong.

If you truly believe that your idea will work, stand firm, provide your critics with the opportunity to help you and push on regardless. This is your idea and your opportunity to do something with it, so be tenacious.

"Everyone lives by selling something."

Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850–94

Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer author of Treasure Island and Kidnapped.

38: Go for larger deals

Compete for large opportunities. Not only will they be a source of higher-value sales, but they will give your business the industry credibility it deserves.

When you find yourself in a situation where a client is too large for you to handle alone, then find a credible partner to work with.

Many start-up software companies have this issue when selling solutions to blue-chip multinationals. They are simply too small to deal with such a large company. The way past this hurdle is to sell your software to respected consulting organizations that have a history with your prospective blue chip and can incorporate your product as part of a broader overall solution.

"I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism."

Charles Schwab, 1937–

US businessman and philanthropist, founder and CEO of brokerage house the Charles Schwab Corporation.

39: Absorb criticism and use it

You will often face times when your peers criticize your ideas. Use this fantastic opportunity to question their thoughts. What they think could be the foundations of a successful direction for your business.

Many people have thought of business ideas but not put them into practice. Many of your critics will tell you how hard it is to be entrepreneurial and why they did not attempt the next step. Use this negativity to avoid pitfalls in your own venture and remind yourself that you are unique and can get the job done.

Accept help whatever form it takes.

"Even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15% of one's financial success is due to one's technical knowledge and about 85% is due to skill in human engineering, to personality and the ability to lead people."

Dale Carnegie, 1888–1955

American writer, lecturer and creator of courses in self-improvement, selling skills and public speaking. Author of the bestselling book How to Win Friends and Influence People.

40: Surround yourself with intelligence

An entrepreneur should draw on experience gained from knowing a little about a wide range of subjects. In contrast, your employees should be experts in a single subject area, offering you a resource to draw on and a fountain of knowledge.

When starting out you may have a limited number of employees, if any, so seek help from mentors, local government organizations, suppliers or clients to bridge the skills gap.

There are many great-value courses run by government agencies specifically to help entrepreneurs get their ventures off the ground – investigate what's on offer in your area.