How To Spot Opportunity Redux


Last January I wrote an article called How To Spot Opportunity. While the specific idea I talked about in that article doesn’t work exactly like that anymore (things change), the general idea is still the same and will work in perpetuity. That idea is simply finding a niche market and giving it what it wants.

The problem is a lot of people get too caught up in ideas. Specifically “the next big idea” or whatever you’d like to call it. Personally, I’m a fan of taking action on any idea because some of them turn out much bigger than imagined. And even if an idea isn’t a home run, I’m perfectly OK with getting lots of base hits.

For example, I didn’t expect much from the 72 hour sales. I was expecting a solid base hit or maybe a double. In other words, I knew the first 72 hour sale would be successful, but I had no idea it would be as successful as it was. With the second sale we had bigger expectations because of the precedent the first sale set. Those first 2 sales generated over $230,000 in revenue and almost $45,000 to charitable causes. Small idea turned big. Expected base hit turned home run.

So here we are. It’s January again. There are opportunities everywhere. Maybe you’ve passed on a lot of opportunities in your life. Maybe you want permission to see an idea to fruition. This is your permission. Today is the best day to get started on that idea you’ve been putting off. Even if it’s a seemingly small idea.

A lot of people ask me how to do what I do, or ask me for advice or A-to-Z coaching. While I’m always happy to give whatever advice I can, the reason I don’t take on coaching students is because I won’t work with anybody who hasn’t already attempted one of their ideas in the recent past. More than that, I want to know exactly why that idea worked or didn’t work. If you don’t get some kind or result from your idea we have nothing to work from.

And here’s something else fun about actually taking action: once people see you’ve taken action they’re more likely to help you for free. I’ve received a ton of advice from people for the simple fact that I had a specific question about a specific issue. Specific questions about specific issues don’t arise if you’re sitting at home twiddling your thumbs and doing nothing. The reason successful people are willing to help you succeed is because they want you to succeed. They need you to succeed. Your success breeds more success. And it’s exciting to help someone who is a doer. It’s not fun at all giving your time to someone who disrespectfully throws it away.

Maybe you’re wondering what an attempt at an idea looks like?

  • Tossing up a blog (which my 5 year old nieces could do) is not an attempt at an idea.
  • Writing a few articles is not an attempt at an idea.
  • Talking to people on twitter is not an attempt at an idea.
  • Subscribing to yet another blog is not an attempt at an idea.
  • Leaving a comment on a blog with the hopes of “connecting” is not an attempt at an idea.

Throwing away your TV and working from 6pm – 10pm every day and all day on weekends is an attempt at an idea. Sacrificing a few things in the present so the future is a little brighter (in other words, delaying gratification) is an attempt at an idea.

As always, I leave it up to you.

Opportunity is everywhere. What are you going to do with it?


  1. Yo Karl,

    Happy 2011 to you–good luck with the new workout intensive!

    If you’re ever looking for an article idea, personally I’d love to read more examples of what you think counts as an attempt at an idea.

    Thanks for those, and for this post.

    • Thanks Matt. An attempt at an idea is putting in a solid effort, not half-assing it. Most people know when they do it and know when they don’t as long as they’re actually honest with themselves. :)

  2. I struggle with thinking my ideas are probably stupid. I know….STOP THAT. What’s even worse is seeing someone else come up with the same thing and it is successful. I’ve come to the conclusion that you just have to throw it out there and try. At first I was bummed when I read this post (because I’ve done all the things you mentioned), but then I turned it into a challenge to take it a step further. Don’t just do what everyone has done and is doing….go the extra mile and do something stellar. I get it. Thanks.

    • Hey Sarah, this wasn’t intended to bum you out. It’s not that you shouldn’t do any of those things. It’s the fact that a lot of people confuse those things with actually putting in work. They’re ancillary and they can be beneficial, but at the core they’re not going to take you places.

  3. Hey Karol,
    Love this: “Sacrificing a few things in the present so the future is a little brighter”.
    I got caught up in the “blog subscribing, twitter networking” frenzy for a bit then I realized I was spending a lot of time”thinking”, instead of actually doing anything. I’ve finally created a goal sheet and schedule for myself to help me stay on track and minimize distractions. If I’m going to sacrifice even a little bit of time that’s usually spent with my family, I want it to be on something I feel is truly worthwhile.

    • Hey Tisha, we all get caught up in it sometimes. This post is as much for me as it is for you. :) As for spending time with family/friends/loved ones: that is never sacrificing time. :)

  4. I was stoked to see how well the 72-hour sales went for you. In fact, the success really inspired me. I got to thinking about how I could apply that knowledge to things that I’m already doing. Trial and Error… going to build on that in 2011 as it’s a whole new year for me. I’m definitely doing things… but I want to do more.

  5. Hey Karol,

    Once again; amazing insight and well explained! Your post added to my store of motivation for making this year different. I only started late in 2010 with learning about building, growing and managing an online business. I’ve been selective with who’s advice I buy and it’s been good so far.

    My husband and I have both started building online businesses but we needed atleast one solid income so I work away from home 3 weeks out of a month earning enough to support us both and I work on my blog and learning about growing an online business and experiment during my 2 hour lunch break and after I get off work until 12am before I call it a day.

    Your post has put our chosen situation back into perspective for me and made me realise that our sacrifces now will bring on a brighter future tomorrow.


    • That’s awesome Gabi. Congrats on taking your life into your own hands and doing what needs to be done even when you might have limited time.

  6. Hmmm, expecting this post to have more comments by now. Maybe you’ve scared some readers away. :) I’m guilty of tossing up a lame little blog, but it’s just for fun. My real ideas are successful outside of the blogosphere. The quote I try to live by, “A sacrifice isn’t a sacrifice unless it’s a sacrifice.”

    • I think I’ve scared them away as well. It was the “don’t leave comments” comment. :)

      In any case, don’t think of your blog as lame. My issue is “throwing up a blog and believing it will immediately change your life” and not “putting up a blog and getting your message out there.” It most likely will not happen in weeks or months. Especially because there are so many blogs and it’s so easy to put up a blog. In any case, I like what you are doing. That said, it’s very rare that blogs on free hosts (blogspot, wordpress, etc) are taken seriously. That doesn’t mean the content isn’t good, it’s simply that (right or wrong) people judge a book by its cover.

      • My plan was to get the hang of blogging on a free host, see if I enjoyed it, then reassess in January 2011 (done). I still want to have fun with my blog, but it will be a more “serious” site soon. Thanks for the encouragement!

  7. You have hit the nail on the head with this idea of delayed gratification. It’s important to live as if you the moment you are in is your last but the think like the next ones are coming. So much of the “big change” mentality going on just now doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on that and it’s important to have a nice big round holistic perspective of what is going on. the Minimalist book sale was amazing. Paradoxically I think the delayed gratification thing is apart of the adventure of life anyway. I live in Scotland and teach and do performance poetry. I got invited to perform at a multi-cultural community centre by and African Poet I had recently met. To be honest I was crapping myself because it was not my usual kind of audience. You know to this day it was my best gig and the guy who got me to do it has turned into one of the best friends I could ask for and one of the most creative and organic partnerships anyone could hope for. For me that was getting my head from up my arse and actually getting the balls enough to do an unsafe performance which has led to something amazing which 6 years on I’m still reaping the creative benefits from. Keep up the good work Karol. I dig your style boy.


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