Ideas and Opportunities

Most ideas are not opportunities. And most opportunities are ideas that may not be unique. But you don't need a unique idea to make the opportunity work. A good idea is nothing but a great starting point. Someone told me the other day, ideas are like commodities. 

How true is that? Ideas are driven by your perception, Opportunities are driven by a gap in the ecosystem around you. The economics of the opportunity has to make sense. 

Whether it is aligned with the entrepreneur's  personal interest and skill set is a very subjective discussion. Skill set is a subset of knowledge and training.  The success of the entrepreneur in filling in the gap in the market is also subject to the timing and intensity of the offering. 

These are basic premises. However not a diktat. I have seen stranger reasons for a business or an idea to click into a given opportunity. 
How about selling thermodynamic stones that keep your coffee at a certain temperature? Or a font designed for people with dyslexia. Or an application on your phone that enable you to detect potholes on a road you are driving on and then send the data to the authorities who can fix these?

The opportunity discovery and the opportunity recognition process should be a highly economics based exercise. Opportunity discovery and recognition needs to be seen by an entrepreneur in the light of profit vs non profit viability. 

There comes a question of a nonviable opportunity then. A nonviable opportunity is no opportunity. It is just an idea. 

Ideas Anyone?

Everyday I get approached by entrepreneurs with ideas. Old and New. Some fantastic, some fantastical. Most entrepreneurs think that their idea is novel and not been thought before. Most fail to recognize the same old models without being able to differentiate. Very few think disruptive. The reality is that one idea is as good as another; if viable. Google was not the first search engine. And facebook was not the first social platform.

If you just take these two instances of entrepreneurial success, the underlying factor remains the execution of that idea. These companies survive and sustain because of the execution of these ideas, their evolution in creating a innovative curve in their space and the disruption that they cause in filling the gaps in our daily lives.

7 out of 10 entrepreneurs who approach me for counselling, have an idea in a non viable form. 9 out of 10 have embarked on a business that they do not understand viability or success factors about. 6 out of 10 do not have the focus of even determining what the end result of their venture would be. 9 out of 10 entrepreneurs came to me with ideas that they did not know how to execute. 8 out of 10 have started execution of their ideas but are facing challenges in execution because of an execution path not well thought out.

A venture is about determination of a viable idea, having a execution plan, revisiting that execution plan and driving it to success with extreme focus.

Ideas are the building blocks of entrepreneurship but the success of an idea lies in its execution method and results. The value of a venture is in its results.

Entrepreneurs Ahoy!

The only common thread that weaves all aspiring entrepreneurs together is a dire need to own their own time. The only fear that holds them back is the fear of failure. However, the spirit of romanticism associated with entrepreneurship is so overwhelming that the fear of failure is perhaps a small dynamic associated with the entrepreneurship equation.

Having worked with entrepreneurs across continents and cultures, my experience is varied. However, the reality is such that most ideas instead of competing in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of just a geographical location are businesses that should organically compete with a globally interwoven ecosphere to measure their adaptability in a globally connected economy of the world. 

Entrepreneurs across geographical locations, invariably aspire to repeat local successes.  
This reflects in their business models, commercial models and pattern of ideas. 
The entrepreneurial infrastructure of a geography seems to determine the evolution of business acumen to a greater extent. 

However, whereas the North American entrepreneurs seem to be more dependent on entrepreneurial infrastructure to support their businesses, entrepreneurs in Asia and Middle East seem more pre-disposed to devise innovative business models to work around entrepreneurial infrastructure gaps.  

The most important considerations  however work in tandem. Are you right for entrepreneurship ? And is Entrepreneurship right for you?

Either ways, the risks associated with your idea in business, often are lesser considerations in the event of the romanticism associated with entrepreneurship. So what should an entrepreneurial person identify in the process to evaluate his/ her capabilities?
When entrepreneurs approach their business idea, it should not be at a stage way into the process when they evaluate their skills, strengths, aptitude and personal circumstances consistent with running their business. Just passion is not enough to carry a venture through. This is my advice to most entrepreneurs who approach me with their business ideas. Opportunity assessment is as important as skill assessment. However, commitment and focus; though most essential are only subservient to viability and process.
Thus, starts my series in entrepreneurship across domains.

Cyber Security is a fascinating realm. It starts with YOU

Did you know how hard the dedicated teams out there are working to infect your systems with malware? 

I had no idea! Two days into a Cyber security evaluation at a conference and I wish I had nothing online anymore. Apparently security software can't always protect you; sometimes the best defense is a dose of common sense and a little bit of knowledge about what to watch out for. Whether it's fake antivirus scams, malware on social networks, or good old-fashioned e-mail attachments loaded with viruses, it pays to be on your toes so you don't end up becoming a victim to identity theft, a raided bank account, or even a home invasion.

As for where to find it, apparently you have to start with your smart phone and the mobile apps you love downloading so frequently. 
More than 50 third-party applications on Google's official Android Market contained a Trojan called DroidDream. When you run a DroidDream application for the first time, the malware gains administrator access over your phone without your permission, according to mobile security firm Lookout. That means it could download more malicious programs to your phone without your knowledge and steal data saved on your device.
Google was able to stop the DroidDream outbreak by deleting the bad apps from the Market and remotely removing malicious apps from Android users' devices, but it's only a matter of time before the next outbreak occurs.
And malicious apps on the Android Market aren't the only way that malware authors can target phones: A recent Android malware outbreak in China spread through repackaged apps distributed on forums or through alternative app markets. Now I know why the big- on -security firms give blackberrys to their employees that are nothing but no application or interactivity devices for checking only corporate mails. 

Another platform for security breach is the social networks, which are breeding ground for malicious activity. Be wary of any social networking postings that offer you the chance to see a cool photo or video or making claims you know to be untrue--such as a recent Twitter scam that offered to let you see who is viewing your profile. Often, these scams can be stopped by just revoking the app in your security permissions and changing your account password. Another smart thing to do, is to stop and ask yourself why a Facebook application wants to post messages on your wall or access your friends list. If you can't think of a good reason the app would need to do this, perhaps it's not worth authorizing.
Be careful of how much information about yourself you are sharing online. Do you really need to add friends you dont know so well? In September, three young men ran a burglary ring in Nashua, New Hampshire, by looking at Facebook postings about people going out and then targeting homes they believed were likely to be empty.
Be cautious of fake Anti- virus. Also known as "scareware," these scams start by convincing you to download a free antivirus program, sometimes appearing to be software from a reputable security company. Then the software claims your computer is under threat from a virus and you can save your system by buying a "full" version of the antivirus program for a one-time fee.
Once you do that, however, not only have you allowed more potential malware onto your computer, but you may have also handed over your credit card credentials to identity thieves. At that point, the bad guys can drain your bank account or steal your identity.

Believe it or not- PDF's are next on my list. I actually thought they were safe??? It may be the oldest online scam in the book, but e-mail loaded with malware attachments is still a big problem despite a high degree of awareness and robust antivirus scanning in Webmail clients such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail.
In 2010, 65 percent of targeted e-mail attacks used PDFs containing malware, up from 52.6 percent in 2009, according to MessageLabs, by mid-2011, 76 percent of targeted malware attacks were using PDFs as their primary method of intrusion.
It's not just businesses that are targets of e-mail scams either. Sophos recently discovered an e-mail scam in the U.K. purporting to offer an $80 gift certificate to customers of a popular pet supply retailer.
Make sure you are running an antivirus program and that it's up-to-date. Also, never open an e-mail attachment that you weren't expecting.
Last but not least, make sure that you keep Adobe Reader (or the PDF reader of your choice) up-to-date; Adobe regularly releases security updates that fix known flaws. The new Adobe Reader X has an updated security architecture that can better protect you against malicious PDF attacks.
If you are trying to safeguard your company's secrets or are worried about data leaks, monitor your company's network traffic for suspicious activity and conduct regular reviews of employee data access privileges.

The world of Internet, where you spend most of your waking hours, may be filled with malware and potential threats, but that doesn't mean you need to sweat. 
Keep your guard up, use common sense, and keep your software up-to-date, and you will be able to reduce your risk of falling victim to attack.



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