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Opportunity Does Not Knock
Q: Iím graduating this year with a degree in business and would like to start my own business rather than get a corporate job. I have a few business ideas, but none of them really gets me excited. Should I just put my business plans on hold and get a job until the right opportunity comes along?
-- Carlton M.
A: Congratulations on the impending degree, Carlton. Never having attended a higher institution of learning myself, I have great respect for anyone who can withstand four years of non-mandatory schooling and emerge with sheepskin in hand. I drove by a college once. It looked hard, so I kept going. I do have a pair of sheepskin boots, but I donít think they ever helped me get a job. They do make me taller, but thatís another story.
Seriously, I envy your position and applaud your efforts. Youíre young, youíre educated, youíre ambitious, youíre probably much better looking than me, and soon youíll leave the comfort and warmth of your tiny dorm room to go out into the big, cold, cruel world to seek your fortune and make your mark. The fun is just about to begin, my friend. I hope youíre ready for the ride. If you think college was tough, just wait until real life sets in.
Now on to your question: should you put your business plans on hold and get a job until the right opportunity comes along. I really canít make that call for you. Thatís a decision youíll have to make for yourself, based on your situation, your goals, your finances, your responsibilities, your commitments, and all the other factors that make Carltonís world go around.
I can tell you that as a breed, entrepreneurs are an impatient lot and many jump on the first business bandwagon that comes along just for the sake of being in business. Thatís a big mistake that usually comes back to bite them in their entrepreneurial behinds.
You should always have a solid idea and a very clear plan of action before starting a business. It is the failure to plan that leads to the failure of most businesses. You didnít plan on hating the business youíre in, you didnít plan on needing so much money to get started; you didnít plan on growing so fast; you didnít plan on there being no market for your product; etc. A failure to plan is a plan to fail. Of course you probably learned that in ďOld Business Adage 101.Ē
Starting a business simply because you have a business degree is not a smart thing to do. That would be like deciding to jump out of a plane just because someone handed you a parachute while standing on a street corner. Start your business career only when you get an idea or find a business concept that gets you so excited and so passionate that you canít sleep at night. Thatís when you go into startup mode and not a minute before.
Now on to the soapbox part of our program (you didnít think you were going to get away without a sermon, did you?). Hereís a word or two about waiting for opportunity to come along.
I know you were just using an old expression, but you pressed one of my hot buttons because many wannabe entrepreneurs do just that: they proclaim themselves as entrepreneurs, then proceed to sit and wait for opportunity to come calling with a business idea and a bagful of money. These misguided folks better have a comfortable chair in which to wait because they are going to be sitting there for a very, very long time.
If just one more of these armchair entrepreneurs call me up and tell me that they are born entrepreneurs and all they need is the chance to prove how smart they are and will I please, please, please give them that opportunity, I think Iíll hurl (in a business-like manner, of course). This ainít an audition for The Apprentice, folks. Who do I look like: Donald Trump? We both have great hair, but thatís where the similarity ends.
The truth is opportunity does not come along. Opportunity does not knock. Opportunity doesnít even know where you live. Opportunity doesnít know your name, your phone number, or your personal situation. Opportunity does not appreciate your talents, your skills, or anything else about you. Opportunity does not care that you are a great person who just needs a chance.
Real entrepreneurs know that opportunity is not delivered like pizza. Real entrepreneurs do not wait for opportunity to come along. Real entrepreneurs seek out opportunity. They get up off the couch or get out of their cubicles, go out the door, and run up and down every street in town knocking on every door they come to. Sometimes opportunity answers the door, sometimes not, but real entrepreneurs keep knocking.
Real entrepreneurs know that you can knock on a thousand doors and never find opportunity waiting on the other side. They also know that opportunity might be waiting just at the next stop, so they keep finding doors and they keep knocking.
When people ask where I went to school I give the old reply: The School of Hard Knocks! But I donít mean that life has beaten me up on my way to where I am today. I mean that I went up to a lot of doors and knocked as hard as I could and every now and then, opportunity answered.
So get your degree and catch your breath, Carlton. You have your whole life ahead of you. Then, when youíre ready, get off your duff and go knock on some doors.
If opportunity is out there, youíll find it.
Hereís to your success!
About the Author: Tim Knox
Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker
Tim Knox is a nationally-known small business expert who writes and speaks frequently on the topic.
For more information or to contact Tim please visit one of his sites below.