Week 10 — The Devil is NOT in the details, opportunities are.

I remember a couple of years back, a lecturer of my entrepreneurship module once told us that if you stay still long enough in an environment (be it at work, your hobby or any organisation), you start to see the opportunities. Many people out there aren’t privy to that level of patience. But if you will allow yourself to be a wallflower slightly longer than you’re used to, you’ll begin to spot the opportunities.

I found that advice to be incredibly useful and insightful not merely because of it’s superficial logic, but rather I was in the presence of someone who actually practices what he preaches. This is in stark contrast to the many lecturers in Singaporean higher education institutions, where it’s common to find a lecturer/professor teaching young people a social media course while they themselves are neither a producer or consumer of social media. Undergraduate studies are full of contradictions.

This week as I continue my journey as a venture builder, I was reminded of my entrepreneurship lecturer’s advice and I realised that there was an underlying element that was missing. Well, not so much missing but one that he assumed everyone would have. And that was a keen attention to detail.

The reminder to not only look at the broad strokes, but to delve deep into the nitty gritty details was evident through our meetings. I was put into situations where I was forced to slow down and think deeply, often using my imagination of the process to see every miniscule movement.

This underlying superpower shortens the time in which you have to stay still in order to catch the opportunities that come your way. It’s kind of like being an octopus with 8 limbs competing with an octopus of the same size with only 2 limbs. Which one would catch more prey in the same location? The answer is pretty obvious.

A mentor once told me, you don’t create traffic. Traffic is already there, it has always been there. So what you need to do is find streams of traffic and just step in front of it. That’s how you put your products and services in front of people.

I believe the same principles apply for opportunities in entrepreneurship. These opportunities or problems have always existed, you just need to put yourself in the right environment and be attentive enough to catch them as they present themselves.

This week as we went through our weekly progress check-ins, our mentor Edward showed us a information memorandum from a property that surfaced. He showed us the level of detail that the memorandum had to have. It was incredible! The amount of information that the seller had on the property was overwhelming, almost 50+ pages of charts, numbers and analyses.

And even then, he would only take 60% of that information for what it truly was; it was a 50 page glorified brochure. Of course, that’s besides the point. The point here is that the seller had done his/her utmost due diligence in presenting the data as detailed as possible.

The caution being made here is that if you’re selling anything to anyone, be it investments, services or you’re trying to get an investment from someone, the level of detail required is immense. If you do not show your attention to detail and your fundamentals, you’re going to be found out … quick.

The repercussions range from losing the investment, to getting yourself embroiled in a legal battle because you failed to advice your customers appropriately.

John Maxwell likens leaders to navigators. John defines navigators as people who see the destination and know exactly how to get there. He then lists down 3 important abilities that a navigator must possess or acquire.

  1. Leaders must see further than others
  2. Leaders must see more than others see
  3. Leaders see before others see

And so, if we are to be successful entrepreneurs or leaders in our respective fields, we need to be in love with the details …

Because the pitfalls and the opportunities both lie in the details.

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