Father Sez

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Spotting and seizing opportunities

Tuesday February 26th, 2008 by fathersez

We must all know someone who is always chasing some opportunity or other….someone who is able to visualize opportunities from something he or she hears, sees, reads about or has sensed.

A friend of mine, who had a full time job, did not think twice about driving a couple of hundred kilometres if he heard that there was a car available for sale at a price he believed he could make a profit from. Yet others will continously try to connect people with needs to people who could satisy the need.

These are people who have the entrepreneurial streak in them. People willing to go the extra mile just to check out the opportunity and just chalking it up to experience if that something did not work out.

Some do it professionally. I know of one young man with web design skills who balances a full time job with multiple freelance web design projects. Of course, he is BUSY!!!

Some others are unprofessional. They try their hands at projects that they have no knowledge of and more often than not end up damaging their credibility. This includes guys who hear from third parties and hawk this information without having verified anything.

How do we rate ourselves at spotting opportunities and seizing them?

My friend, Kalai, once described a mutual friend as follows.

“You give this guy RM5,000 a month and ask him to mine for gold for you at this mine, and you can rest easy, knowing that he will be bringing in the moolahs for you. You tell him that there is gold in the mine and ask him to mine, with no monthly salary but a share of the profits and he’ll say “no”.”

This mutual friend is a “salary” mentality guy. There is a strong need for security and a confirmed source of regular income. This overrides everything else.

Real entrepreneurs thrive on uncertainty, says Rita Gunter McGrath, a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business and co-author of book, “The Entrepreneurial Mindset.” Subtitled “Strategies for Creating Opportunity in an Age of Uncertainty,”. The co-author is Ian MacMillan, who teaches at the Wharton School.

McGrath and MacMillan list 5 common characteristics of Entrepreneuers.

1. They passionately seek new opportunities.

2. They pursue opportunities with enormous discipline.

3. They pursue only the very best opportunities.

4. They focus on execution — specifically, adaptive execution.

5. They engage the energies of everyone in their domain.

(Extracted from review by Ms. Barbara Fox.)

Trent at the Simple Dollar and Ms. SVB over at Digerati Life have both announced their decisions to quit their full time jobs to pursue their dreams.

I congratulate them for their courage and also for the astute planning they have done to prepare themselves for this move.

I also fantasize about leaving my job and pursuing my dreams. I have yet to find the courage to make this move. My mind set is only slightly less salaried minded than the mutual friend that I described earlier.

I have turned down a couple of profit sharing offers earlier in my life, where the salary offered was much lower than what I was getting then.

Presently I have two business opportunities that I am incubating. Both of them look good and I have a reasonable sense of control over the projects. The next few months are going to be very important for me as I work together with my partners on growing the projects.

As I work on preparing my mind to cut the safety harness of monthly remuneration (my grateful thanks to people like Trent and Ms. SVB, who have often written on this), I also want to keep reminding myself of the habits/characteristics of entrepreneurs.

I have let opportunities go before. This time, the opportunities have been taken on. They are being worked upon and improved. And this time, I intend to make the best out of them!

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5 Comments for “Spotting and seizing opportunities”

by Emily
On February 26, 2008
At 8:38 pm

This is interesting. I am very much of the salaried mindset and hubby is not at all. We have disagreed many times about this topic because he’s got the heart and mind of an entrepreneur but I do not have the stomach for the unknown as much as he does. I think we’ve compromised on some stability and testing of waters before diving in head first with some of his ideas. And I am confident that as our children grow and we don’t have to worry about the what ifs affecting them, he’ll be seizing as many opportunities possible. It really is fascinating to see how different people see the entrepreneurial spirit.

by Matt
On February 29, 2008
At 1:40 am

Being able to see opportunities comes with practice. I spent a year working for a small entrepreneurial company and over the course of that year I started to see more and more opportunities. I’m now in the process of following one of those through.

Ideas by themselves are good but doing something about them is what will make them great.

On February 29, 2008
At 10:50 am

@ Emily,

This is strange. I just noticed that my reply to your comment has not been posted. I am sorry.

(I remember saying that a person bitten by the entrepreneurial bug will get the urge again and again. So long as you are both open minded and willing to compromise, everything should be all right.

@ Matt,
You are right, of course.
Too many of us are armchair businessmen.
Thanks for dropping by.

On February 29, 2008
At 7:04 pm

[…] Spotting and Seizing Opportunities at Father Sez has made me take a long hard look at the idea squashing I do to the entrepreneurial spirit within hubby. We’re of different styles, hubby and I, and I need to try to loosen up and let the guy go after some of his ideas. […]

[…] Father Sez sez that you should look for opportunities. […]

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