The Entrepreneur as an Opportunities Identifier By Galit Zamler
Opportunities surround us all the time, and some people recognize them and know what to do with them. It is possible to teach students to identify opportunities through guidance and training from an early age.
Scanning and Listening
An entrepreneur is a person who is attentive to the environment, constantly scans it, and when identifies an opportunity for success or a chance making a positive impact, he/she turns it into a venture.
The following story clearly illustrates the meaning of identifying opportunities:
The story is about two businessmen coming to a new continent to sell shoes.
Half an hour later, they both call their wives.
One says: My dear wife, don't worry, tomorrow I'm getting on the plane back to you. No one here wears shoes. They're all barefoot.
The other says: My dear wife, I am very sorry, but I will not be able to return in the coming year, there is a fantastic opportunity to sell shoes here, everyone goes barefoot.
In the video, "Let's Raise Kids to Be Entrepreneurs," Cameron Herold, an entrepreneur since childhood who has coached entrepreneurs for the past twenty years, says how at an early age, encouraged by his father, he had identified business opportunities and realized that his destiny was to be an entrepreneur.
When it comes to children: Participants in the Entrepreneurship for Kids Program learn to identify opportunities that will drive them toward success on both a personal and financial level.
Turning a Difficulty Into an Opportunity
The entrepreneur knows how to identify opportunities for success. Sometimes a problem is also an opportunity, and one can find it only after examining the problem from a different angle.
An example and inspiration from an entrepreneur:
In the following videos, Steve Jobs, a talented and respected entrepreneur, talks about the path and the process that he went through to success.
In the past, these videos were shown to students who participated in the EFK program as we studied the module on how to make difficulty an opportunity. Most often, students were amazed. They couldn't believe that Steve Jobs grew up as an adopted child, did not get a college degree, was fired from the company he founded, and, despite everything, was very successful in his field and is considered to be a symbol of success in the world.
IAI CEO, Itzhak Nissan, described once that the transformation of Israel into a superpower UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) began with the closure of the Lavi project:
"We took the end of the Lavi very difficult. After we had recovered, we decided to transfer the technologies developed into other things, such as UAVs, and we became a superpower. We don't stop thinking, improving, and expanding."
Know How to Identify and Exploit Opportunities
Ray Kroc, who is affiliated with the McDolandes chain, began his career as an entrepreneur when he invented a machine to make milkshakes. To sell the machines, he went from store to store throughout the United States and offered them to the shop owners.
The moment when he saw an opportunity for another initiative was when he entered to sell his wares at the Mcdolend Brothers' burger restaurant. After attending the restaurant several times, he realized that the fast-food concept had great potential.
He made the move to the hamburger venture gradually. At first, he acquired a franchise for a single branch, and then expanded until he bought the entire chain from the founders and turned it into an international fast-food chain.
The Israeli entrepreneur Dror Ceder was the founder of Wibiya and vice president of Conduit, shared his story at the entrepreneurship club of the Open University. He said that he worked with his partners on the project for two years, and two days after the launch, they decided to kill the project and move to another one. They did it due to an error and the responses of the crowd to it.
Watch the video (In Hebrew)
Identifying Trends to Create Opportunities
Ideas for projects can also arise from identifying trends. One can use tools and researches for that. For example, Google Trends allows identifying trends in different states and in various fields around the world.
Besides, it's also advised to be attentive and aware of our surroundings. Sometimes, as an outcome of being alert to the surroundings, we can identify the beginning of trends that hadn't yet received any attention from the mass media.
The ability to recognize trends in time and leverage them can lead to great success.
Here are a couple of examples of trends that entrepreneurs had noticed and leveraged them:
Coworking spaces - WeWork was the first to recognize the entrepreneurs' need to work with people like them instead of at the garage or at home. Then many other companies identified the trend and offered their shared spaces. Thus, we can find in many cities around the world shared work spaces, and everyone trying to differentiate themselves in some way.
ADHD - Whether more children and people have attention and concentration problems or there's just more awareness to it, we see an abundance of various solutions to this matter, such as books, medications (Ritalin), lectures and workshops for parents, care centers, designated products, etc.
The Fidget Cube that enjoyed the trend of the ADHD trend became a huge hit for a short period. The entrepreneurs raised money from the masses for production and marketing through the Kickstarter website. The project achieved major success, as you can see from the screenshot below, the entrepreneurs planned to raise $15k and eventually managed to raise $6,465,690.
Another product that had significant success in light of the same trend was the spinner. Children and people all over the world bought spinners and swirled them for pure enjoyment and\or to concentrate.
Even if both of these products are no longer a hit as they were, the attention and concentration problems are still here, and the market is looking for effective solutions.
A trend in a completely different area is the growing interest in artificial intelligence. This is one of the leading trends nowadays in the world. Entrepreneurs who will succeed in identifying the required usages for this trend are on their way to success.
Skills & Entrepreneurship education