Why it Pays to be an Opportunistic Entrepreneur
There are visionary entrepreneurs and then there are opportunistic entrepreneurs. In rare cases, an entrepreneur will have both qualities. However, in the vast majority of cases, the entrepreneur gravitates toward one end of the spectrum.
And if you’re looking for the fastest track to success, the opportunistic side of things usually offers more predictable results.
What is Opportunistic Entrepreneurship?
While visionaries like Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk come to mind when most people think about entrepreneurs, the reality is that these individuals make up a tiny percentage of all entrepreneurs. With rare exceptions, your best bet is to be opportunistic.
Opportunistic entrepreneurship is all about taking what the market gives you. Rather than creating a brand new product category or coming up with some revolutionary technology, you simply identify existing gaps in the market and/or focus on hot trends as they emerge.
By leaning into the opportunities that exist, you can carve out your own niche much faster.
How to Be More Opportunistic
The great thing about opportunistic entrepreneurism is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or have some magical “aha” moment. You simply have to keep your eyes and ears open and be willing to take action.
Here are a few tips for being more opportunistic:
1. Put Yourself in New Situations
It’s difficult to identify opportunities when you’re stuck inside your comfort zone. When you do, see, watch, and read the same things day after day, you never cross paths with anything fresh, creative, or new. This means you think the same way and continue to recycle the same “opportunities” in your head over and over again.
The key to being a more opportunistic entrepreneur is to constantly put yourself in new situations. Here are several ways to do this:
- Read more. If you study successful people, you’ll find that they read far more books than the average person. And in most cases, they’re reading non-fiction books. (One recent study shows the average CEO reads 60 books per year – i.e. a little over one book per week.) You don’t have to read that many books, but you should be reading at least a chapter or two per day to fill your mind with useful knowledge.
- Travel more. There’s something about travel that opens the mind up to creative ideas, thoughts, and opportunities. Not only will you see things through a fresh lens, but you may identify new opportunities that don’t currently exist in your geographical market.
- Network more. The third technique is to network more. You’re more likely to hear about new opportunities when you conversate with a variety of people outside of your immediate circle of influence. Local entrepreneurship groups, masterminds, and “investor clubs” are great for this.
If you spend more time reading, traveling, and networking (and less time watching Netflix and playing video games), you’ll have an endless supply of opportunities and ideas. Then it becomes a challenge of channeling your energy to pursue the right ones.
2. Look for “Latch On” Opportunities
Anytime there’s a new breakthrough technology or innovative discovery, good entrepreneurs will fixate on it. However, great entrepreneurs are skilled at looking around and identifying new “latch on” opportunities. In other words, they find the “sub” opportunities that the new technology or discovery has created and then build products and services to fill these new gaps.
Drvn is a great example. This company offers upscale cruise transportation between the port and the traveler’s airport, hotel, or home. Whenever a cruise liner makes a home in a particular port city, drvn identifies the location and then offers transportation to meet the need. That’s the definition of being opportunistic.
3. Progress Not Perfection
The final suggestion is to focus on progress over perfection. Once you find an opportunity, jump in head-first. (You can always perfect it later.)
“Take your first step and stop thinking about it so much. You have to embody the action-taker mindset and just do it,” entrepreneur Jared Goetz writes. “Generating any kind of movement is better than any type of paralysis.”
If you focus on progress instead of perfection, you’ll be further along than your peers who are still busy trying to create a plan of action.
Find Your Path
Being opportunistic requires you to be both patient and proactive at the same time. You have to be patient in the sense that you can’t force things. (Wait for the marketplace to show you the way.) However, you also have to be proactive. When you see an opportunity, the wait is over. The entrepreneur who is quickest is often is the most successful.