Seek the Opportunity!
Over 30 years ago I started a consulting practice building on my background as an ex-journalist, and trade magazine editor.
The service: teaching people how to write more effectively.
The opportunity: Many professionals (e.g., engineers, IT specialists, etc.) were challenged to not only write effectively, but also how to write productively. i.e., not waste time while writing.
I was freelancing at the time, helping clients craft publicity articles, brochures, ads, etc.
One of our clients asked : Had I some ideas about helping their team who were struggling with the written word? They clearly assumed I had some expertise in the area!
I did some research to find out who delivered writing training, and I couldn’t find anyone. (An opportunity)
So I told the client this, and suggested we handle: “Give me three months and we’ll have a training course for you.” The client agreed, and I went to work.
I’d never done any “teaching” before. Never designed a training course. And had no academic credibility– needed at the time—to establish business credibility.
By chance I had got to know the McLuhan family. (An opportunity) Those versed in communication studies would be well aware of Marshall McLuhan, media guru, academic and the first to highlight the effects of the electronic media on the way we now think in the Western world . You may recall his iconic statements: The Medium is the Message, and The Global Village. I.e., McLuhan is THE name in communications.
I got to know the family through Marshal’s son, Dr. Eric McLuhan, who also by chance had taught, and as a bonus knew the English language backwards.
Between us we designed a workshop, sold two clients, and put in place everything we needed for an entrepreneurial business.
Our clients liked what we did. And they asked what else did we do?
Our first response was: “Nothing else.”
But one day a brochure came into my office advertising a workshop that was then called: The Winging-IT Logic System, to be delivered by Dr. Keith Spicer, a prominent Canadian public figure.
I took the course, saw how others valued the concepts—and then became a business partner to Dr. Spicer. (An opportunity)
We now offered a second workshop, renamed Think On Your Feet® .
Again, with no grand vision. We never planned to go global. It just happened. Clients liked the product and our free demonstrations attracted attention from the big five accounting practices. One of them in Australia. Our growth spread from there.
In our first year we delivered 14 days of training, the next year: 24. Today we deliver around 500 days of training out of our head office. If you include those who represent us globally, we now deliver over 2,000 days of communication-skills training annually.
It all happened because we saw one opportunity. We met the opportunity. And it all started with that one opportunity as a foundation to the future. This has led me to understand the key aspects of growing an entrepreneurial enterprise.
Seek out an opportunity—not a grand vision!
Fulfil this opportunity. Your first client is the most important in your life.
Don’t distract yourself with a grand vision. At best it will distract you. At worst you’ll lose your credibility.
Build your team around this one opportunity. Do your best to get it right! You won’t get it right as such. But you have to shoot for perfection. Excellent is brilliant, but probably not realistic. Good is OK.
Imagine you’re in a room. One exit door represents your future. But you can only open that door once you’ve perfected and serviced that one room, that one opportunity. Don’t allow the myriad of opportunities outside that one room to distract you. Focus instead on building a foundation for your future. One step at a time.
One good (small) opportunity can plant the seeds for a global business. It just takes 35 years for it to grow. Maybe you can do it faster?!!!
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