by RMIT Entrepreneur-in-residence, Marcus Powe
Ideas and opportunities are at the beginning of the entrepreneurial process. The tools of innovation that help the entrepreneur establish whether ‘it’ is just an idea or indeed an opportunity. The tools of innovation are simple yet powerful. You use them to determine whether your idea might be the basis of a great commercial or social opportunity. Once you have learned and applied the tools of innovation you ‘see’ many opportunities that often challenge your comfort zone and at the same time enhance your ability to succeed.
Let us start at the beginning.
I wonder whether YOU can see the opportunities?
If your idea remains JUST an idea after the tools of innovation have been applied to it – fantastic. There is no point investigating the idea any further. Park (do not abandon, just park) the idea then go on to the next idea. Save your energy, passion and money for an idea that will turn into an opportunity that you can really deliver.
Most people who start a business or work in an organisation often concentrate on what has to be done. They often have tunnel vision. They can only see what is directly in front of them. If you have seen horses racing you may notice they wear blinkers. Blinkers give a racehorse tunnel vision that stop distractions and keep it focused on the finish line or the successful completion of a task.
The problem with tunnel vision is that if you only see what’s in front of you. You will miss all the ideas on the periphery. Many ideas are turned into opportunities and then into reality by people who can make connections in the market or organisation that others didn’t, or couldn’t see as they STILL have their blinkers on.
So what is the chance of success in taking a new idea to market if you haven’t removed your blinkers, that’s easy, think of a number less than one. With your blinkers removed, the first thing you will see is the COMPETITION. People frequently claim, ‘There is no competition.’ It seems their blinkers are well and truly on! Knowing your competition is critical. Why would your competitors let you enter, survive and thrive in the market place – because they are nice? After all, you are taking their opportunities for growth, their customers and their MONEY. If you can’t see your competitors you won’t even see the Driving Forces, which are even further out on the periphery. These are the environmental forces that can create and destroy opportunities instantly – their impact is certain, total and not controllable by individuals or organisations.
Removing the blinkers does not hurt! If fact there is no surgery required.
Taking the blinkers off and looking at the environment, the market and inside your organisation will provide many opportunities. You will be surprised by your new ability to expect the unexpected and find opportunities everywhere. You will look for and understand that gaps occur in the market place constantly. Removing the blinkers – could it be that easy? To remove the blinkers you need to separate yourself from your idea, park your ego and become pragmatic. You may think I am suggesting an approach that is boring, mechanical and no fun at all. Quite the contrary – you need passion and pragmatism, not idealism and optimism in the entrepreneurial process. Do this and I wonder what will happen next?