WHEN the news about diamonds discovery in Manicaland spread across the country, thousands of people flocked to Marange hoping to get the precious stones and make money overnight. Were these real business opportunities to them or not?
Nowadays, every street in towns and cities is a hive of activity with people selling all sorts of products.
However, while these people are earning a living out of this, does it mean these entrepreneurs have also identified business opportunities? No.
These are not business opportunities at all; this is for their own survival only. For these activities to occur, so many factors contributed to their development, especially in cities, towns and growth points as well. Major reasons were — retrenchments and urban migration.
Soon after independence, several foreign-owned companies either closed or downsized operations, while at the same time rural to urban migration increased leaving city fathers with no option, but to absorb the excess population.
On the other hand, this (retrenchment) was a blessing in disguise in the sense that most of the retrenches were skilled and started their own businesses though mostly under the informal sector.
Nevertheless this led to the introduction of various programmes like those for indigenisation and economic empowerment for which some people helped them get financial support and sustainable contracts as well.
Now that most of them are realising the importance of regularising operations there is now the need for decentralising of business activities to all provinces in order to de congest cities and towns.
The truth is that 70% of all goods and services produced in towns and cities are for rural populace, Then, why not establish business operations directly where consumers are?
Every business opportunity comes from an idea, and therefore, if an idea is not an opportunity, what is an opportunity?
An opportunity is a gap, a chance or a favourable condition ie seeing what other can’t see. It normally comes to everyone once or several times during any part of our life time.
With organisations, gaps in production, supply chain and other related services create massive opportunities for new companies to show up. A good example of this scenario was the reduction in commuter omnibus transport service on our roads by Zupco during the early 1990s and the subsequent pulling out from major towns and cities.
This left a wide gap (opportunity) in the provision of commuter transport around the country.
This gap was, however, quickly closed by small to medium entrepreneurs who took advantage of the absence of this service provider (Zupco) and make use of the chance (gap) to establish themselves since then until today.
Although this new mode of transport is 5 times smaller in capacity – it has proved to be very efficient than the former and at the same time have created employment 10 times more than usually the case.
This form of transport is commonly known as kombi and if this gap was left unattended we would be in a serious need of transport to ferry commuters to and from cities and other routes as well since most of other regular service providers also pulled out due to viability challenge.
Employees regard better qualifications and experience as opportunities that increase chances for promotions and higher status in organisations and in society at large.
In most cases we only realise opportunities long after they have gone. Some people say “strike while the iron is still hot,”, “but if you don’t know that the iron is now hot how you could strike?”
Others say there is no time like the present to establish your business, why? Because tomorrow depends on today. We built our capacity as we grow and failure which our future would be disaster.
In the past, opportunities where there, still they are there and will always be there. The difference is that some are short-lived while others are medium to long lasting in nature. Some analyse them first and then choose the once that best suit them and eventually invent new business models.
That’s where the big difference is and as such some entrepreneurs now dominate in various sectors of our economy.
Therefore, I am saying let’s not be too late because technological changes are too fast to cope with unlike in the past when a new technology used to last more than 50 years in the market, nowadays 5 years is too long – new models are being churned out like hot burns in the market. Above all what matters is opportunity recognition.
Businesses opportunities are worth pursuing because they create massive employment opportunities; they are sources of new ideas as well and they also brings in new investors and foreign currency. The following are some of the characteristics of good business opportunities that we may look at before one embarks on a project.
Opportunities are known for creating or adding significant value to customers or end users; they also solve significant problems by removing serious pains points, or meeting significant needs or wants for which someone is willing to pay a premium; they have a robust market, margin and money-making characteristics that will allow the entrepreneur to estimate and communicate the sustainable value to potential stakeholders; lastly, but not least they are a good fit with founders and management teams at the market place – along with an attractive risk – return balance.
In short, the greater the growth, size, durability, and robustness of gross and net margins and free cash flow, the greater the opportunity. Furthermore the greater the rate of change, discontinuities, and the chaos, the greater is the opportunity.
Again the greater the inconsistencies in quality and service, in lead time and lag times, and the greater the vacuums and gaps in information and knowledge, the greater is the opportunity.
The following are some of the areas were multiple opportunities are lying waiting for takers (a) sporting — this is the area with the biggest market opportunities that is to say as a nation we can build stadiums for all sporting activities around the country.
To do this, we can partner with other reputable international investors and then lobby for international sporting celebrities annually to come and grace our activities.
For each sporting event ie athletics, swimming, soccer and many others we already have them (celebrities) in Jamaican the likes of Usain Bolt, Britain has Wayne Rooney and Spain to Lionel Messi complement to our sensational celebrities like Kirsty Coventry and Elliot Mujaji, among others.
It is now very clear that to their economies, sporting activities are contributing remarkable revenue to gross domestic product unlike in our situations.
The author is a business consultant. You may send your feedback to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org