Last week, I had the chance to travel out of Malaysia to Austria for the summer and with the 13 hours flight route, I had my chance to catch some movies that I had missed. One of the movies that I have enjoyed during the long haul is Annie. It’s one of the songs “Opportunity” that struck a chord in me and its my current inspiring song. If you haven’t caught the song before, you can hear it here.
Opportunities are all around us, it’s whether you are alert enough to see it, courageous to seize it and prepared enough to work on it.
First of all, let’s explore different type of opportunities.
– Job related: Where there is an open door to showcase your skills, a new position opening up, a new project where you can jump in.
– Business related: Perhaps a new business idea, a new collaboration where you can join in, a sideline chance for you to explore in
– Personal related: A chance to travel without sacrificing too much money, a new hobby, even a new relationship
The possibilities are endless but when such an opportunity opens up, you want to be ready to take it in your stride and not left feeling inadequate.
So let’s talk about preparations.
If you are not ready, even with a tempting opportunity right in front of you, you will never be able to take it. The lucky ones are young, willing to take risks and debt free but for the many of us, we could be in our late twenties to late fifties (still young at heart!), fell once too many times to count and probably saddled ourselves with car loans, student loans, housing loans etc.
If you thought about setting a tidy sum for retirement and rainy days, good for you! One more thing you need to do as well, to set up a sum for opportunities. Whether it is for you to invest in business when the golden chance arrive or when you want to explore a new job you have dreamed all your life. The sum does not need to be huge and definitely take a back seat to your retirement funds. But it’s something for you to shelve out without feeling the pinch as if you are digging out from your children’s college funds, to fork out on your own to go on an Africa Safari tour en route from your Africa business trip sponsored by your company.
It’s not all about money as well, it’s about gaining related experiences pertaining to the opportunity. I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to set up my own childcare centre in Singapore by a kind Australian couple who will invest the money if I invest my efforts. I reluctantly but wisely turned them down. Why? Especially since I don’t have to fork out a single cent? I was really young, not yet 21, I have zero experience in business, armed only with 4 years of childcare teaching experience, I don’t think I am capable enough. YET. The most important point is that I wasn’t ready to tie myself down to committing to something. I wanted to stretched my wings to explore more and I did. If the same opportunity presents itself now, I wouldn’t hesitate at all.
When you are better prepared, you likely to be braver to take the leap. Now, knowing that you have a neat sum to play with, you lowered your risks of bad consequences. To increase your confidence, do your homework. Meaning you will need to do your research, talk to a few field experts and people who know you well, understand your means and work out a plan. This is the same even if opportunity arises for you to go into a new relationship, is he or she claims who they are, you’ll talk to your common friends and your closest buddies.
Now it all boils down to how to identify opportunities.
This is the hardest for most. We are so inclined to take in everything that was said to us as a pinch of salt, in addition to all the distractions surrounding us like our environment, our mobiles, the Internet; even if an opportunity stare right at you, you might not even recognise it.
In 2008, there was a major milk scandal in China involving in the biggest country manufacturer, Sanlu. My friend who was working for a competitor heard this news at its breaking point, rejoiced because for years, they were trying to overtake the market shares in consumer milk. I was bewildered by his joy and pointed out to him that he should be worried instead of rejoicing because it will affect not only the involved company but the whole milk industry in the country and even maybe the whole world. Instead, the correct way is to look into an alternative to milk.
True enough, the milk industry, all the country companies and their products were investigated in a major way. Consumer panic resulting from the contaminated milk lessened demand for dairy products, causing sales have fallen by 30–40% on a comparative basis, according to the Chinese Dairy Association. Every company, big or small, overseas or local are affected. KFC suspended selling their milk, Starbucks replaced milk with soya milk instead, Heinz recalled their baby cereal, Unilever recalled their Lipton Milk Tea, Cadbury had to recall 11 of their chocolate products.
My friend failed to recognise an opportunity to step in to divert their company’s attention away from salvaging the situation instead try to cater to the Chinese market in a different way. In the end, the Chinese consumers flooded Hong Kong by going over and purchased powered milk in bulk hence creating a demand for black market milk products. I am not an expert in this industry but I felt there are more ways than one to seize the opportunity to stabilise the market instead of allowing Chinese scalpers to dominate the market, causing regular milk pricing to raise many folds.
So think and look at each situation as a whole and in many different angles before jumping into conclusions. There are winners and there are losers. At every coin, there are always two sides to it. Look closely and carefully all you want but time is the essence here if you want to seize the opportunity.
Have a different opinion? Feel free to leave a comment below or email me here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, have a happy weekend!