Being in business is simply finding a way to solve problems in a new way. A way that’s better, faster, or cheaper. So, why do some people only see problems, and others see opportunity to profit by solving problems?
As a serial entrepreneur (it took 8 tries before I found my sweet spot!), I learned how to recognize and embrace opportunities I saw around me early in life. When you orient your mind around the following things, opportunities will come at you so fast, it will be hard to choose the best to act on. Use these three tips to find, recognize, and embrace opportunity:
First, you must ‘know thyself.’
My father, an entrepreneur who built a company that went public, used to say this was the secret to finding the right opportunity. I’ve seen firsthand how an understanding of oneself (or lack thereof) can make or break a business. What he meant by that was that an entrepreneur needs to find what they’re really good at – better at than anyone- and then hire around those strengths and weaknesses to make it work.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of your own core competencies. Look at my friend Phyllis Newhouse for instance. Phyllis is an African-American woman who grew up in a family of one of 10 children with modest means. She joined the Army, becoming the first in her family to graduate from college, and break the mold of what’s possible. Being smart, hardworking and exceptionally good with technology enabled her to find opportunity and embrace her inner strengths early on. She has since become the CEO of Xtreme Solutions, and 2017 EY Entrepreneur of the year in the technology sector.
For myself, I’m an inventor, a lover of nature, a scientist at heart, and really good at business. Therefore, I saw opportunity when a mouse ran up my bare leg in a farm truck. I didn’t want to kill it, and deal with the dead body. Once I learned that 90% of everything sold to control a mouse was toxic, I saw an opportunity to create a better way. Then I invented the first botanical rodent repellent to meet Federal EPA standards, and turned it into a business.
Next, do what you can with what you have, where you are.
I instantly think of my fellow EY Winning Woman sister Christina Stenbill, of Farmgirl Flowers. Christina grew up in a small farming community in Indiana. She saw all this land around her, and the cookie cutter flower bouquets from local flower shops and Kristina thought “Why can’t I start an online business shipping locally grown flowers from here, breaking the mold while sharing nature’s beauty?” She saw an opportunity to reduce costs, and deliver fresher, longer lasting bouquets wrapped in burlap that create social good at the same time!
Finally, find and align your purpose!
Purpose is what ties it altogether, making things happen at the right time and place with the right people.
Many of the failing business I see didn’t succeed because of a disconnect with what the owner is really here to do on earth. We’ve all been the given gifts in which to build our core competencies around, and I believe we’re all placed into our current circumstances for a reason.
With that said, the last step is to align yourself with your higher purpose. When you know your purpose, the pieces will begin falling into place. Data proves this; purpose driven companies outperform their counterparts on stock price by a factor of twelve! Partly because 91% of consumers will switch to purpose driven brands if price and quality are comparable. Additionally, employees who work for purpose driven companies are twice as happy on the job, and that alone is a game-changer.
These three points will empower entrepreneurs to make better decisions, get better results, and be better leaders.
Please comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.