If ‘happiness is when preparation meets opportunity’, then every company is simply ‘lucky’. That doesn’t seem right. I believe when opportunity and preparation meet, timing trumps luck. In that moment when it all comes together and you become an “overnight success,” the world seems to forget one thing: the cost.
All those sleepless nights, self sacrifices, long road trips, missed vacations and missed opportunities, right? But the sacrifices are the real story. They are the preparation. So when the opportunity arises, the question is not, are you lucky? The real question is: are you ready?
Sure, some moments seem happy. Look at the entrepreneurial history of the past 30 years, of course there is a bit of luck involved. There will always be those “kick me” moments – those opportunities you saw but didn’t take.
Maybe you missed the move to Silicon Valley in ’95. Investing in the dot.com industry when dialing in meant AOL chatroom chats with your girlfriend. Or collecting domains like candy when they were cheaper than M&M’s.
But no matter what opportunities you look back on and hate that you missed, any entrepreneur worth his or her salt has a list of opportunities as long as he or she did to take. Choices are made based on those quick, gut decisions chiseled from years of preparation.
They pay off. Maybe not as much as buying from Amazon for $18 in 1997.
Ultimately, preparation takes three basic forms: sacrifice, starting, and training through experience.
Part of early entrepreneurial life that those on the sidelines, or those not yet in the game, don’t understand are the sacrifices. With a start-up, everyone around you suffers. It’s balls to the wall, 24-7. When you’re young, you don’t have the same kind of weekends as your friends.
You don’t wake up with a hangover on Monday. You will travel through Tulsa, Milwalkee and Reno. Family, friends, your network… they are all sacrificed to your tunnel vision. In many ways it has to be. Now some will disagree. They’ll suggest you delegate early, but if you’re a one-man band, you don’t even know what you need to know to delegate until it’s in front of you.
If you have a singular goal, keep your head down. Don’t look up to the sky.
Preparation always comes before you need it. You don’t prepare for a triathlon at the white starting line. You can’t start benching 300 without a spotter on your first try. Those hours will always create the preparation needed for when the opportunity arises.
Because you have to have faith in this: that if you just focus on your goal, you will encounter opportunities. It will meet you. Your paths will cross. And when they do, fire your shot. Don’t let it pass you by. As Wayne Gretzky says, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
There is a proverb that says “do not despise the day of small beginnings”. Maybe you have a quirky little idea that you’d like to put aside. Maybe it’s a passion project or a sideshow. You’re not sure it will go very far, and honestly you just want to see what you can create.
Well, this little thing you start on the side might just start generating 1-2 thousand bucks on the side. If you’re consistent and pour into it every month, before you know it you’ll find a way to scale it up and turn it into a multi-six or seven-figure business.
If it’s content, you might have a friend who likes to write. They wrote for free. You come over and offer them a few hundred a month, or even $25 per mail. Now you are both happy. Now you are building.
You took action on a little thing, picked up the phone with a friend and said, “Hey, maybe we should start this idea.” Before you know it, it’s eight years later and you’re selling that company and making real money.
It doesn’t have to start out as a huge goal, it can start from humble beginnings and grow into something big.
Young age does not disqualify you
Some assume that you have to pay for years or decades to see success and make the big bucks. Like you have to be 35 or 40 to really win. But even at a young age you can make really great business moves.
The early dot-comers did this. The domain generals did this. So if you’re reading this as a 21, 22, 23 year old, know this: you’re not a kid anymore. Age is not a disqualification.
Preparing for an occasional meeting has nothing to do with your age. It simply has to do with the amount of action you take. Silence the internal bias about how young you are and how much success you can have.
If you are always prepared for the opportunity, the timing will happen. The question is, are you performing at your best today and really trying to push the boundaries towards your goals? Or do you assume you’ll have time later?
Because when the opportunity comes, if you’re not prepared, you’ll be behind the eighth ball.
The risk, the thrill of the deal, is exactly what keeps some top players coming back for more. It’s what keeps people like Shane Brinkerhoff, CEO of RevCatch, returning to the game day after day, even after he’s made his millions. He’s a self-proclaimed ‘deal’ junkie.” It’s not really the money made that’s the goal (although don’t get me wrong; making a big deal is a big deal).
It’s the thrill of the chase, the chase, that really makes the heart beat faster. That’s the fun. That is the reason why. The process is the fulfillment, not necessarily the end result. Part of winning in business is enjoying it so much that you do it even if you could quit.
Pursuing the goal gives an entrepreneur self-esteem. That’s what gives a purpose. Some entrepreneurs may think that the aim of the game is wealth. And that means opportunity plus preparation equals freedom. And that would be right. But freedom alone won’t get the job done. It’s actually quite boring.
It’s the opposite of how I want to spend my days. My goal is to serve others with integrity, stay in the game, and make life better for myself, my family, and those around me.
If I retire for a year – or five – who will take care of them? Who is going to improve their lives? Heck, who’s going to improve mine? Because my golf game just keeps getting better in a year, and I’m not Tiger Woods.
I don’t intend to be. Kale Goodman and I, of The Real Business Owners, hope to equip as many entrepreneurs as possible to be 6 and 7 figure entrepreneurs and continue to expand our own vision. You don’t hang out on the beach all day.
If the opportunity arises, it should be approached with preparation and a keen eye to recognize the signs of the times. For Brinkerhoff, that meant scratching a napkin at McDonalds with plans that eventually became the start of something big – in 1997.
It may not seem like a huge idea, but buying all of the state’s dot.com domains ended up being a very profitable idea.
Every moment in your life prepares you in some way for your next steps. It determines the odds of your opportunities, when the opportunity arises. How did you spend your time? Have you prepared? Have you done your best every day?
Can opportunity find you? If you keep your head down, make sacrifices, and stay focused, maybe your opportunity and preparation will meet – at the perfect time.