Opportunity is all around us, we just have to open our eyes to see the possibilities. Seth Godin, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos constantly remind anyone who will listen that the size of the pie is not fixed but that we are all dining at an all-you-can-eat dessert smorgasbord. We don’t have to fight for our slice, but we do have to learn to see that in addition to the pie, there is also chocolate cake, cobbler, ice cream, tiramisu, chocolate…
Entrepreneurship is all about learning to see opportunity where no one else does. Maybe it’s a UFUO. Maybe it’s a new iSomething. How about a bicycle in the trash?
This past Thursday, my wife and I were running in the morning. We ran past the bike in the above photo. The bike was out for trash in front of a house a few blocks from our home. Most people would have run past, I’m sure people drove past the bike on their way to work. WE initially ran past the bike.
About 100 yards past the bike, my wife said, “Do you think we could sell that bike on Craigslist?” I said, “You know, I was just thinking the same thing, let’s go look at it.”
We ran back to the bike and did a quick inspection. The tires were flat, there was a little rust on some of the spokes, but everything else appeared to be in fine working order. As we ran home, my wife pushed the jogging stroller and I ran with the bike. Between my huffs and puffs, I mentioned to my wife that some friends of ours had done something similar and had sold a found bike for $20. I figured $20 would be a reasonable amount to make for a quick Craigslist ad and 10 minutes of our time.
When we got home, I did a more thorough inspection of the bike. Again, nothing seemed wrong with the bike. There were working front shocks, working breaks, the derailers appeared to be working correctly, so I filled the bike’s tires and rode it around just to make sure everything was in working order.
A friend of mine, who does a lot of biking, was working at my house that day. He inquired about the bike. I told him the story and he suggested we list the bike for $40. After some deliberation, we decided to list the bike for $50. Within twelve hours, we had three responses, and all wanted to come to see the bike immediately.
The first couple to see the bike, wanted to haggle. The rear derailer was not working (I run; I know nothing of gears and sprockets). The guy said it was worth $40. I told him about the other two people interested in looking at the bike. He didn’t really budge, but as he pulled the cash out of his wallet, he gave me the $44 in the picture above.
I was content with $20, so $44 was more than good enough for me, all for seeing an opportunity and wheeling a bike home from someone’s trash.
We all have the ability to see these opportunities. Think of how many times you say “Wouldn’t it be great if someone…” That’s your opportunity. You just need to take the next step. I agree, wheeling a bike home and listing it on Craigslist is a lot less scary than designing a new product or starting a new business. However, I don’t want to be 80 and regret not trying something (Watch: Jeff Bezos’s Princeton graduation address from 2010).
What is your opportunity for today?