Entrepreneurs see life as a huge market place. They have, or they develop, an ability to look around them and see opportunities everywhere. In any situation involving two or more people, they see that one person has a problem which the other one might be able to solve. In other words, they view one person as a giver, the other as a receiver. This is entrepreneurial vision – the ability to size up a situation, isolate the problem that exists, devise solutions to them, and then deliver those solutions swiftly and effectively.
Let us go through five perfectly ordinary experiences to see how an entrepreneur would view them.
The next time you go to the movies, try to look at the experience through entrepreneurial eyes. See more than the story being played out on the screen. View the star or the director as a source of leverage with which you might be able to raise the capital to produce an independent feature of your own. Also read the credits to find out if the movie was distributed by a large corporation. What about the theater in which the movie is being shown? Is it part of a national chain? Would it be to your advantage to release your future independent feature through such a chain? Once you have trained yourself to think like an entrepreneur, many everyday experiences, like going to a movie, will become sources of ideas for the future.
Going through your emails
How many pieces of third-party emails did you receive today? How many newsletters or Amazon catalogs? Each item came to you from a company that has your name and email address. Those companies got that information by renting out email lists from firms with which you have done business in the past. As an entrepreneur, can you put this technique to work for your own company? Could you, for instance, begin by renting someone else’s list? When you have developed your own roll of customers, could you rent their names and email addresses to others in order to generate extra revenue for your company?
Helping your children with Their Homework
You suddenly have a problem: you have forgotten a good many of the details your child needs to know. Your entrepreneurial insight should show you several opportunities in this situation. Is there a market for a certain type of education software that would solve this problem? Could the problem be solved for a wider number of people by publishing the information in hard or soft copy?
Recovering from an illness
It happens to everyone once in a while – even the usually healthy entrepreneur; we get flattened for a few days by malaria, a flu bug, a killer cold, a Sunday soccer injury, a stubborn fever or some other bothersome ailment. When this happens, the non entrepreneurial sufferer will take a couple of days off, drink a lot of orange juice, watch television, and indulge in self-pity – but not you! If you have that insight, you will look at every angle of the situation through entrepreneurial eyes. How could you improve the situation of about “3.2 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – who are at risk of malaria.” The first thing that would come to mind is a pharmaceutical solution or a prevention method. Could you develop one entrepreneurially? If you are not pharmaceutically inclined, could you develop and market a nourishing but easy-to-prepare food product designed for easy consumptions in the sickroom? A more comfortable pair of crutches for the injured soccer lovers? A communications system to connect the sickroom to an office or a classroom.
Something very similar happened to Charles William Post, who later founded General Foods Corporation. Post fell ill when he was in his thirties. During a stay in a sanitarium or ward in Battle Creek, Michigan, he was served a cereal-based beverage and a breakfast food composed of grain and dried fruits. His depleted physical condition did not prevent him from seeing the ward’s menu through the eyes of an entrepreneur. Soon after his release, Post developed his own version of the cereal drink, which he named Monk’s Brew at first, and advertised it as a “builder of red blood cell.” After Post changed the product name to Postum, it became a virtual staple product in many American households. The granola-dried fruit cereal became Post’s Grape-Nut Flakes, him still another entrepreneurial idea: a second nourishing breakfast food made from flakes of corn, which he called Post Toasties. From this granola-sized idea was born General Foods Corporation. All that from a short stay in a local hospital ward, and all because Post never for a moment stopped seeing the world through entrepreneurial eyes. As you read this old example, put yourself in my shoes and think of such entrepreneurial people in your own country who might have gone through an almost similar case, used their entrepreneurial vision and have embarked on impressive startups.
Watching a Stand-up comedian
Humor is often based on frustrating problems that could be solved entrepreneurially. A comic, for example may deliver a routine about trying to put together a bookcase that arrived unassembled. As an entrepreneur, you will see an opportunity in that problem: people need affordable household items that can be assembled with ease. Watch Trevor Noah’s shows for a few nights, and write down the topics that he jokes about during his standup show. In no time you will have a list of ten to twenty entrepreneurial ideas.
The sooner you learn to think entrepreneurially, the better your chances will be of succeeding in this field. Entrepreneurship is a discipline that can be learned. But it takes training. If you weren’t “born with it,” you can now start nurturing it by exercising your entrepreneurial muscles every day. When you read your morning paper, look at the problems catalogued in every column. Don’t throw up your hands in helpless pity. Instead, think up ways to solve those problems entrepreneurially. They don’t have to be solutions that you yourself could provide, or would even wish to provide. They will serve as exercises to enhance your instincts and sharpen your entrepreneurial vision.