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Seize the day

Carpe Diem! Literally, seize the day or take the opportunity. I’ve become so aware that many of the successful people and businesses today are so because they have seized the opportunities that they created or that came their way. That means always being prepared to respond when an opportunity opens up. I’m impressed by the ability of a business to first see an opportunity but even more importantly, to act on it.

This week I got an e-mail from a company in the US. The subject said: Donna, congratulations on being featured in the Daily Sentinel (Nacogdoches TX). I don’t even know where Nacogdoches Texas is! That of course grabbed my attention so I didn’t immediately delete it. The e-mail then said:

Dear Donna,

We saw your recent press in the Daily Sentinel (Nacogdoches TX), I hope you don’t mind me contacting you about it. You must have felt proud to be in print. To celebrate we’re offering you a free preview image to show how your press looks mounted in a plaque. A plaque is a great way to make your moment last forever, perfect to hang in your office, reception area, meeting rooms and other public areas.”

Of course then they mentioned that it will cost just US $159 to have the plaque made etc. I was actually very impressed with this company’s ability to see and opportunity and act on it. I’m almost sorry that I won’t be buying a plaque from them but I can’t allow sentiment to dictate my financial decisions. If it had been my first article or I knew it would be my last, I may have been tempted but unfortunately for them it is not.

However, they did cause me to think that when I made the cover of Personal Excellence magazine in 2010, after writing an article called Beating the Economy I never thought of having a plaque done with the cover on it, the way musicians frame their gold and platinum albums.

So I e-mailed a company here that I’ve done business with that makes trophies and plaques etc and asked them if they could do something similar? Well I have not heard back from them yet. So maybe the e-mail did not get delivered and therefore I should follow up with a call or maybe they have so much work that they’re not interested in pursuing this opportunity.

I mean to say, I have just presented them with a business idea that they didn’t even have to think up themselves, thanks to “That’s Great News”, the company in the US. They could, as this company did, scour the local, regional or even international newspapers and magazines and contact the people who are being featured and offer the service of creating a plaque of the event which would be more lasting than cutting out the newspaper article or photo which will turn yellow with age. Perhaps they’re already doing it and I don’t know.

What’s the difference between these companies? Is it that one is a US company and the other is local? Are US companies more innovative and more able to see opportunities and act on them than our companies? If so, why is that? Could it be that we still have a small island mentality and we’re not seeing ourselves as a global player?

Is it that we are too bent on just doing what we know and not being prepared to step outside the box? Unfortunately I don’t have the answers to those questions and in fact there probably isn’t one correct answer.

What I do see though is an opportunity for that company to compete with That’s Great News in their own market. I recently got some high quality plaques for a competition from that same company and they were just about US $62 each compared with the $159 I was quoted for mine although the quality is slightly different. With those prices they could blow That’s Great News out of the water. Of course there would be shipping charges to consider.

What two US companies have shown me this year alone, is that we need to be more proactive in looking for opportunities both locally and globally or in the event that they arise unexpectedly (as one did for me), we need to be prepared to act on them.

Donna Every is a Chartered Accountant and an MBA who worked with Ernst & Young for ten years before starting her own Business Advisory practice, Arise Consulting Inc. She has written four books including What Do You Have in Your House?, Surviving in Times of Financial Crisis and the newly released novel The Merger Mogul.


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