I was sitting earlier this week with two other faculty planning our sessions for a three day workshop in entrepreneurship that we are co-leading for the students of a leading business school in India. As we were discussing the flow, we were often bringing up experiences and feedback from our earlier sessions. One thing that we all agreed was the importance of making the participants learn / relearn / reinforce / recollect / remember – the difference between an idea and an opportunity.
An opportunity arises in the market. It is the result of any change happening in the social domain.
An idea is a thought that arises in the mind of an individual. Every thought is an idea. Some ideas inspire us while some even drain us! And most of them don’t become successful businesses! While some succeed with an idea, other fail with the same idea. Why?
Opportunities are also similar. There are many opportunities around us, especially today. All seemingly lucrative and luring. But then why is it that only few people are able to commercialize an opportunity successfully, while many others fail in their attempts?
One of the key reason is the inability to understand that ideas and opportunities are different. And one needs a formidable combination of these two to make good sense in business. Any of these in its absolute is just a parameter. An idea or an opportunity by itself is like an incomplete piece of a puzzle, waiting for the corresponding right piece to fit in. However in our impatience for action, we tend to make our moves the minute we feel we hold one piece in our hands. In our eagerness we forget however great the piece we hold looks, without its counterpart it is an incomplete puzzle of little use to anyone. We proceed with this one piece; only to fail.
We can argue endlessly which makes a better starting point – an idea or an opportunity? Any argument is only relative. Undeniably it is the combination that determines the success of your business. Let’s not forget that!