How many times have you said or thought; “If I had only…….!” For entrepreneurs this phrase/thought often describes opportunities missed for: new business investments or new service/product lines for their business. Preoccupation with hindsight and missed opportunities is wasted time. The key lesson that should be learned from looking back is that we should have spent more time looking forward.
LUCK OR WORK
As Ron and I meet with successful entrepreneurs we often hear, “I was just lucky – right place, right time!” But when we dig deep we usually find:
- Successful entrepreneurs are constantly looking for “what is new to be capitalized on.”
- Successful entrepreneurs are constantly seeking data to support their observations and self-analysis.
- Successful entrepreneurs are prepared to take risk and invest time and money in new ideas, concepts, and continuous self-development.
- Successful entrepreneur do not wait for luck – they search for it or make it!
HOW TO SEARCH – HOW TO VALIDATE: TACTICAL
We are constantly amazed how much many small businesses do not know about their industry and competitors. Too often business owners are immersed in facts about the new process, procedure, technique and tool of their profession but do not take the time to see the growth, strategic shift, or evolutionary demise of the business, product or service. Entrepreneurs are busy working in their business and “there is no time for that” is generally the alibi. We suggest the following:
- Join your industry association and read their publications! Not everything will be useful –but – you will not miss the big issues!
- Survey your competitors. Have a trusted relationship shop your competition annually for marketing, service, communication and price.
- Take a competitor to lunch once a quarter! Beyond the obvious, remember odds are that your competitor is a future potential buyer of your business when/if you ever wish to exit.
HOW TO SEARCH – HOW TO VALIDATE: STRATEGIC
In this case “your government is there to help!” Beyond your industry association the Departments of Labor and Commerce are mines full of gold data. I often surf the government sites in search of trends that signal the future and can support Opportunity-Inc. influencing our clients strategic directions. As an example I came across this data this morning.
I have always believed that in business you follow the money. I discerned three messages from this chart:
HEALTH CARE – Makes sense – aging population.
HOME IMPROVEMENT / TRADE GROWTH – Makes sense with post-recession average home ownership duration expected to double.
And – Why don’t I own a bicycle? Or better yet should I learn to repair one?
THE TAKE AWAY
Opportunity Inc. believes “that if you don’t do something – don’t expect something!” Invest time to stay apprised on your industry and the mega trends so you never again say: “If only I had…….!”