How to Spot Golden Opportunities: Richard M. Rothman, MD, Open Mind Opportunity Consultancy

Golden opportunities are like powerful magnets that attract all the team and resources you need to scale writes Richard M. Rothman.


Business opportunities are created by change in the environment. Although you can’t ‘manage change’ any more than you can control the monsoon, you can benefit from the opportunities created by change, if you can see them.

All Opportunities are Free

All entrepreneurs, regardless of size, can harness the power of opportunities to become successful. Why? Because opportunities are all free, and freely available to everyone. Even better, golden opportunities are like powerful magnets that attract all the team and resources you need to scale. But to attract significant resources, your opportunity must be golden. Anything less than gold won’t cut it.

I recently met a 20-year-old entrepreneur, a college dropout, who had raised $20 million from Tiger Global, a U.S. venture capital company. Was Tiger investing in this entrepreneur’s track record? Obviously not. Tiger was investing in the potential market size of his opportunity. Capital principally flows to the opportunity, not the entrepreneur.

Why You Must Choose Carefully

Unfortunately, golden opportunities are not golden on the outside. They’re golden on the inside. That’s why you must choose opportunities very carefully. If you choose incorrectly, you can waste years on an opportunity, a concept that is not - and never will be - a golden opportunity.

Opportunities should ideally provide nine types of value:

1. Opportunities should provide utility. Utility is the key driver of value.

2. Opportunities should be substantial, with large-scale potential.

3. Opportunities should be relevant - needed now.

4. Opportunities should be unique - those that are relevant but not unique are commodities.

5. Opportunities should be sustainable - difficult for competitors to copy or attack.

6. Opportunities should be accessible, with low barriers to entry, at least for you.

7. Opportunities should be suitable - align well with your mission, model, market and domain environments.

8. Opportunities should be actionable - feasible to execute at scale.

9. Opportunities should be profitable, with the potential to rank in the top 10 per cent of their category.

How to See Opportunities

Consider the nine key drivers of value and imagine their opposites. Friction is the pain, dissatisfaction, unhappiness caused by declining utility, shoddy workmanship, inadequate service, win-lose value exchanges, and declining relevance.

Friction can be an immense source of golden opportunities. Why? Because friction inevitably causes pain and dissatisfaction. Other people’s pain can be your gain. Whenever you experience severe friction in your work or day to day life, you should ask yourself:

· Is this something I care deeply about - enough to work on creating a solution?

· Is this pain that I can remove?

· Is this pain widespread? Could there be a big market for this solution?

A Simple Method to See Opportunities

To see opportunities, look for friction. To find friction in your industry, talk to your customers. Better yet, talk to your customers’ customers. What are they unhappy about? Examine what’s causing the friction. Look deep into the whys and how’s. Then examine whether this is friction you can remove, through the application of effort and resources. Removing friction can pay big dividends.

For example, Netflix has captured two consecutive golden opportunities by identifying and removing increasing amounts of friction from its customers’ lives. When the company started, its main competitor, Blockbuster, created friction by forcing its customers to visit its retail stores to rent movies, and charging steep fees for returning DVD’s late. Netflix removed that friction by creating a subscription model that allowed customers to receive movies in the mail, and by eliminating late fees. When 3G bandwidth became widely available, Netflix used this opportunity to remove even more friction from its customers’ lives through the convenience of online streaming.

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