Knowing how to spot an opportunity may be the key entrepreneurial trait, but you can’t do it on an island. You can’t simply wait for inspiration to strike and then suddenly realize “what the world truly needs is . . .” That is not how it works.
What do you do? You begin, in what you may think is an unusual place, by looking for opportunities to open your mind.
The longer you’ve been around, and the more successful you have been, the more difficult it’ll be for you to accept new and/or different ideas, especially if those ideas don’t correspond with the way you see the universe. When confronted with something that isn’t within your usual frame of reference, you are likely to say, “This will never work.”
You continue doing what you’re doing because “if it isn’t broken, why fix it?”
There are three problems with thinking this way, in addition to the obvious one—that you don’t have a patent on all knowledge that exists now or ever will exist:
1. Even if you’ve mastered your corner of the universe, there are still millions of needs that require solving just around the corner.
2. Success can make you lazy. If what you’re doing is working, there is little reason to think things could be performed better, faster, cheaper, or more efficiently.
3. Things change. To use an over-the-top example to make the point, it’s terrific that you know all there is to know about VCRs, but if the world has moved on to digital recorders, that knowledge doesn’t do you any good.
Here’s the bigger point. The way you think—especially if you’ve been successful—may have locked you into a tight little corner. I’m sure that, for the longest time, back when the world was urged to (and did) “make it a Blockbuster night,” the people at the video rental chain knew everything there was to know about renting movies. As a result, it never even occurred to them that someone could attack them (and their market) in a way they never thought of.
Netflix did, and the rest is history (as is Blockbuster).
Many people like to ask for input, but what they only want to hear is “Everything you are doing is perfect.” Don’t be one of those people.
The next time you’re tempted to dismiss a radically new idea out of hand, using the phrase “that will never work,” think of Blockbuster. Then examine that “wacky” new idea in detail to see if it just might work.
Excerpted, with permission of the publisher, from The Entrepreneur’s Playbook: More than 100 Proven Strategies, Tips, and Techniques to Build a Radically Successful Business by Leonard C. Green with Paul B. Brown. Copyright 2017, Leonard C. Green. Published by AMACOM.
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