Not all ideas make great opportunities for entrepreneurs. The key is to know when an idea can be transformed and monetized into a business. I have always had the great idea of turning my nightstand into a mini-refrigerator. It would be similar in design to one of those kitchen refrigerators that have the cabinet panel insert to match with the kitchen cabinets. With my nightstand refrigerator, when I’m thirsty at night I don’t even have to get out of bed (I’m kind of lazy like that). While I think this is a great idea…and perhaps a few others might also, it doesn’t necessarily serve as a great business idea. Additionally, I don’t have the resources, skills, or patience to explore the concept. So when does an idea become an true opportunity?
An opportunity arises when an idea is based on what customers want and when the customer is willing to pay enough, often enough, to make the idea a viable business. So my refrigerated-nightstand might be a cool idea, there simply isn’t enough of a market for it at the price it would cost. Additionally, once every lazy guy had one the market would be satisfied. Therefore, it isn’t a sustainable idea.
Entrepreneurs need to be great, or at least good, at determining if an idea has merit as an opportunity. Ideas are often generated simply by listening…, observing…, and then developing solutions. So where many casual observers simply see problems an entrepreneur may see an opportunity. Where there are problems, or dissatisfied customers, there are opportunities.
Many entrepreneurs are simply good at finding opportunities. The well-known management guru Peter Drucker said that an entrepreneur is simply someone who “always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity”.
How do you transform an opportunity into entrepreneurial wealth? Recognize the opportunities, not just the ideas. Evaluate the opportunities to ensure it can be monetized and it is sustainable. If you don’t have the full range of skills the opportunity calls for then build a team that does. Write a business plan. Gather the necessary resources; family, friends, partners, investors, local banks, etc. Determine ownership. Determine legal protection for your opportunity as necessary. Finally, as Thomas Edison said, “the value of an idea lies in the using of it”. So if the idea is actually an opportunity, get started.
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