Opportunity Distraction Disorder (ODD) And The Perils Of Being An Entrepreneur

By on October 1, 2012
Do entrepreneurs’ minds operate differently than other mere mortals? Are they hardwired to be on constant search for new opportunities? As an instructor for the InnerCity Entrepreneurs business accelerator program based in Massachusetts and Lead Instructor for the nationwide, 10-city launch of the program, I work with hundreds of successful business owners in a variety of companies ranging from construction to high tech to healthcare. Based on my interactions, I suspect there may very well be differences in how entrepreneurs seek and approach opportunities, challenges and risks.
While I consider myself a serial entrepreneur (and yes, quite vulnerable to the constant wrap on the door of the next opportunity), I haven’t conducted any brain scans to confirm my theory that entrepreneurs are attracted to new ideas and opportunities in a different way. Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” Do these opportunities naturally find entrepreneurs or through preparation and a willingness to take risks, do they simply find themselves surrounded by them. One of my enlightened students, John Carroll, founder of Moss Hollow, luminously coined this “ODD – Opportunity Distraction Disorder” when he got into the solar business and found himself confronted with a plethora of opportunities which clearly presented a significant distraction. Is he onto something important?

If you’re an entrepreneur running a successful business, perhaps you can relate to the notion of always looking out for the next “big thing.” The thrill of the hunt and passion for creating something new or improved drives most entrepreneurs and allows them to take the risks involved with launching a business or growing it to the next level. It is also the force that gets them into trouble because not every opportunity is one that should be seized, no matter how appealing it seems at first blush.

In the race to pass your competition and accelerate the growth of your business, it’s critical to identify the right opportunities as quickly as possible. Below are 8 critical questions to help you recognize the opportunities that will likely enhance your business goals and avoid those that are merely wolves disguised in sheeps’ clothing:

8 Critical Questions to Help Identify Business Opportunities

1. How will I define and measure success specific to this opportunity and will the effort required to achieve that generate adequate rewards for my business?

2. Will the investment in time and other scarce resources produce a profitable new business model without damaging an already successful company?

3. Do we have the expertise and resources necessary to market and sell this service/product?

4. Is there a synergy between our expertise and the actions needed to achieve success?

5. Does this new opportunity enhance or detract from my current business goals?

6. What do I need to know about the market place, the customers, industry dynamics and competitors before I get involved with this?

7. What impact will this have on my personal and professional goals?

8. What risks, if any, will my current business face if I don’t take on the opportunity?

About Beth Goldstein

Author of The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Toolkit (McGraw-Hill), and President of Marketing Edge Consulting Group, Beth Goldstein has empowered hundreds of entrepreneurs and companies to create successful marketing and sales programs for their businesses. In addition to consulting, Beth is the Senior Associate for Distance Learning at the Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization at Boston University (BU) and runs their Annual $50K Business Plan Competition. She teaches Entrepreneurial Sales and Marketing at the BU School of Management and is the Faculty Director for the BU Online Certificate in Entrepreneurship (recently recognized by Fortune Small Business Magazine as one of the best e-learning entrepreneurship programs in the US).

Beth is also the Lead Instructor for the InnerCity Entrepreneurs’ 10-city, nationwide program designed to help urban entrepreneurs strengthen and grow their existing businesses and teaches the 9 month business accelerator program in Massachusetts. Beth has more than 23 years of direct industry experience and holds an MBA from Boston University and a degree in Economics from Brandeis University. She can be reached at BethG@m-edge.com or at 508-893-0976.

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