Somewhere along the line I have heard a quote that goes something like this. Success is 98% perseverance and 2% luck. If you persevere enough you just survive but if you have that 2% luck, you succeed.
Over the years I have come to appreciate how special luck is but I have also learned that 98% of the people are not willing to make any effort, let alone persevere. Luck is staring them in the face, in some cases screaming and kicking! Yet so many willingly allow these precious moments pass.
In a high-school business class I wrote a business plan for a store that rented out beta-max movies (yes, I am dating myself!) and software on floppy drives (remember the 5-1/4’s?). I believed it was an idea that had potential, but I never dreamed how big the movie rental business would get! I did not come from a family of means nor was I a teenager willing to get off his lazy a$$. While I don’t really consider this a “missed opportunity,” (there was nothing to decline) thinking about it makes me go hmmm.
When I was nineteen I learned about a limo company that had shut down due to a family issue. One day everyone was working and the next there were several dozen limos collecting dust. I friend was presenting me with a one-time opportunity to buy as many limos as I could for $5,000 each. At the time, conservatively they were worth $8-$15,000 each. There was money to be made just flipping them. Of course I was thinking about the customer base this company left behind! I had already invested my money in a house. With little credit and no cash, I had to pass.
My first “house” was what most would refer to as a townhouse. In fact it was a condo with a crappy design. It was a two-level built over a “garden home.” The entry was ground level but immediately inside the foyer was the stairs to get to the first floor. Can you believe… no doorbell! A quick $100 in parts at the local hardware store and I learned that running wire inside walls was not a typical DIY job. I then cobbled together a homemade wireless triggered door bell. There was nothing like it on the market at the time. Today you see them in stores across America, unfortunately these are not mine. I never showed for the appointment with the patent attorney.
In the old days when the Noid was still around and pizza delivery was still free if not delivered in 30 minutes, I had a roommate from Russia. He could not get over the joy he found in delivery pizza. He loved this country! He would stare out the window watching for the driver with one eye while the other was on the clock. He would watch the drivers slowly drive down the street, sometimes with flashlights in hand, searching for the right address. To solve the problem he dreamed up solar powered street number signs. I recall he made contact with some manufacturers a potential partner was trying to get me to invest (sweat equity mostly). I declined. I don’t know if he ever followed through himself but again, you can find versions of this idea in stores today. While he or I are not making a living off the idea, there are people out there than managed to do so.
For me, “the one that got away” was what I called the DishMaster. With only one or two people in a house I had no use for a dishwasher. Yet it is still a chore I wanted to make easier and faster. Many years ago I conceived a hand-held motor driven device to help scrub dishes while cleaning. A partner and I were working through planning and prototypes when the project collapsed. I was convinced that consumers would never be comfortable putting something electric into water. As a result all our designs were based on a water driven system that just didn’t produce enough torque to make it viable. Fast forward a couple decades and I still get ticked every time I see one of the commercially available battery powered dish scrubbers.
If it is true that success is 98% perseverance and 2% luck, you would need both.
Looking back on my missed opportunities I see that none guaranteed success, they only provided a possibility. I also realize that we are not blessed with unlimited opportunities.
In most cases you may be ready and willing to invest the time and money but luck is not with you, opportunities are usually few and far between.
In the rare case that you have opportunity, when it presents itself, are you willing to take action, to persevere?
Readers: Please share, did you have “the deal that got away”, and what was it? Would you be willing to risk your savings if a new opportunity presented itself?
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