Opportunity Recognition: A practical tool

On November 19, 2018, we wrapped up Global Entrepreneurship Week and reviewed the Born to Build Opportunity Journal for its usefulness. Here are the show notes:


Dr. Kasie Whitener, Clemson Road Consulting and WBC of SC

Shennice Cleckley, The Chief Start-Up Evangelist and WBC of SC

Theme for the day:

Born to Build: Assessing Opportunity and Activating on Ideas

Agenda review:

Today we’ll wrap up last week’s GEW events and the WBC Summit, we’ll talk through the second and third parts of Born to Build, and we’ll spend a little time being grateful in honor of Thanksgiving.

fashion woman notebook pen
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

Segment 1:

No 1 MC tomorrow. This is Thanksgiving week, so not a lot of meetups or events happening at all. Let’s debrief GEW and the Summit.

What worked? What was most exciting? What was most informative? Inspiring?

  • City of Columbia, Lexington County, Richland County, Small Business Administration South Carolina District Office, City Center Partnership and Columbia College co-proclaimed International Women’s Entrepreneurship Day on 11.16.18.
  • Keynotes Elaine Pofeldt, Tiffany Norwood and Marsha Barnes took our inspiration to new hemispheres…even galaxies!
  • Martha Brown and Pamela Eyring gave us important, practical advice about what it takes to be a million-dollar CEO. They also kept it real with plenty of laughing! Who remembers CCHER?
  • Mentors, mentors everywhere! 13 amazing women joined us for a special 12@12 Luncheon. Countless connections made.
  • Seven hands-on and interactive breakout sessions refilled our “get-on-it” lists with practical ideas to grow our businesses – and grow ourselves as women.
  • More than 30 Columbia College students were volunteers for the event…and got a chance to meet you!
  • Five lucky men learned and laughed with us. Cheers to that!
  • Good company, food, fun and wine were had by all.
  • This Summit was made possible by visionary investments from Grow with Google and the South Carolina Department of Commerce. Please join us in thanking these organizations for their partnership.

The word I heard most often was “fun.” Which sounds a lot like me, so I like to think my presence was felt even though I couldn’t be there.

Global Entrepreneurship Week included the one-day Resource Fair at RCPL, the first time (to my knowledge) Columbia’s ever had all those service providers in one place.

Women’s Business Center of South Carolina at Columbia College

Richland Library Business & Careers Center

1 Million Cups Columbia, SC

Center for Entrepreneurial Success at Midlands Technical College

City of Columbia Office of Business Opportunities

Columbia Children’s Business Fair – Macaroni Kid Columbia

Community Works

Junior Achievement of Greater South Carolina

McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise at the University of South Carolina

Optus Bank

South Carolina Business One Stop

South Carolina Community Loan Fund

SCRA  | South Carolina Research Authority

VentureSouth/South Carolina Angel Network

Workshops included mine, Lean Canvas 101 in which I may have confessed to being a reluctant entrepreneur who made poor financial decisions. Then Tom Ledbetter’s Entrepreneurial Assessment — which I missed but heard was great. Then Lending 101 with James Chatfield and finally Charlie Banks on Pitching to Angels.

Lots of positive remarks and response from Wednesday. People felt grateful to have all those resources in one place and the 1MC room was like a vendor fair which was really cool.

Segment 2:

Born to Build – So Born to Build has four parts: 1) creating self-awareness, 2) recognizing opportunities, 3) activating on ideas, and 4) building a team.

Last week we took on “self awareness” in the business-building sense? In the book, self awareness is broken down into three pieces: What evidence do we have? Identifying your builder talents, and The Builder’s Method. Shennice walked us through the quiz and informed us the the quiz alone is worth the price of the book (wink).

Here’s a great summary of the book.

This week we’re working on recognizing opportunities and activating on ideas.

So give it to us. Based on the self-awareness practice of knowing your business self, help us understand what the book calls The Path to Opportunity and then Recognizing or Assessing Opportunities.

This is a video (48 minutes!) that reviews the Opportunity Journal. The topic really gets going around minute 4. It’s also a podcast. You can get that on iTunes. The following comes from the video:

Dr. Sangeeta Badal calls recognizing opportunities the most important decision a business owner can make when in the process of starting a business. But she says, it’s also an important skill for people who have existing businesses.

  • You need knowledge – of the environment, your expertise
  • You need motivation to change the status quo – a willingness to work at improvements in processes, access, technology, policies, changes in the environment should motivate you
  • You need a big network – how big is yours? Are you ready (and able) to leverage it?

You need to be open to recognizing opportunities. The first exercise is the Opportunity Journal and it’s about how do you open yourself up to be more aware and identify What Is and opposed to What Should Be.

The journal starts with Talent — what are your talents? These can accelerate your recognition of opportunities in specific areas. Talent leads to high engagement.

Look for things that accelerate your learning curve. If you work in the field where your talents are, then you’re better positioned to recognize opportunities that fit your talents.

The Opportunity Journal has three columns — Engagement (your talent), Learning Curve (how easily you’ll be able to make something happen here), and Performance (what you’re able to execute and where you struggle). Rate each task/activity for each category and assess whether this is an opportunity.

The following is our own interpretation. So, for example:

This radio show is an activity, right? So in terms of my talents, I think I’m pretty good at prepping and delivering quality radio, so I’d go 4 out of 5 there, and then the learning curve, there wasn’t much of one, but Brian does have some directing to do with me and Kev’s taught me a bunch, too. So I’d say it started at a 3 and is now probably a 4 — this rating is how well I’ve been able to pick up the radio show thing, right? Then the Performance — how well am I doing at it? I think pretty well, but we need some measurements for that, right?

Then the radio show has a digital platform, so we could break each of the platform pieces down by Talent (or skill), Learning Curve (or new skills needed), and Performance (or proficiency or mastery).

It’s an intense self-reflection exercise, but I think it would be worth doing it on a regimen, maybe for a week or so. Sit down and reflect on your day and list all of your activities and assess how you’ve done on them. Then consider this data when you’re planning for future opportunities.

Segment 3:

Activating on Ideas. Are you someone who plans how you’ll work on things? Or someone who just starts working and determines the “how” afterwards?

I think this might be my part of the book, as the Queen of How. Let’s get specific about asking the right questions, coming up with a plan, and then executing that plan.

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