Opportunity has a way of making a soft tap-tap on your door. Smart entrepreneurs listen for these signals–they have ears specifically attuned to the sound.
A recent book called Opportunity Knocking: Lessons From Business Leaders, by CNBC senior talent producer Lori Ann LaRocco, focuses on the sound of these opportunities–from how to take advantage of a burgeoning industry to how to take on a challenge that’s bigger than just one company. I recently caught up with LaRocco, and she explained four ways to make the most of any opportunity.
1. Ride the wave of a challenger.
One of the most interesting points LaRocco makes is that many small companies ride on the coattails of other companies as a way to grow quickly. She says one of her favorite examples is from Anthony Wood, the founder of Roku.
“Roku continues to blaze a trail with its legion of consumers and is laying the groundwork to becoming an operating system for television,” she says. “For six years, they have been competing with Apple TV, and they continue to grow despite Apple’s constant versions of their system.” Wood told her that Roku sales doubled when Apple TV launched.
2. Turn big setbacks into big wins.
Another favorite example, she told me, has to do with Uber, the popular ride-sharing service. Anyone following the peer-to-peer car-sharing service knows there have been constant legal challenges, especially from taxicab unions. LaRocco says Uber learned how to turn a setback into a win. When the D.C. Taxicab Commission added a snow emergency fee of $15, Uber didn’t raise its rates in response–it might have seemed like an opportunity to increase revenue. Instead, the company pounced on the opportunity and kept rates the same to attract new customers away from its legal challenger. “If the taxi unions want to be competitive, they have to think like a business providing service rather than a cartel holding consumers hostage,” says LaRocco.