Source: What was once a sales call for getting a business to advertise in a publication, is now an opportunity . . . what was once an invite to a sales meeting for a direct marketing company, is now an opportunity . . . so what does an opportunity really mean? Samuel K. Burlum provides some perspective...

How many times have you had a conversation with someone and the word “opportunity” popped up in the discussion? What does opportunity really mean? By traditional standards, Webster Dictionary defines the word opportunity as a favorable juncture of circumstances, or a good chance for advancement or progress.

There are many cliché quotes which you might have heard over the years such as, “When opportunity knocks at your door,” and “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation,” said by Zig Ziegler.

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However one of my favorite quotes about opportunity was by 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team coach Herb Brooks, who said, “Great moments are born from great opportunity.”

There is the general understanding that an opportunity is a chance for one to make a decision if a set practice or method will provide the advancement of an idea or create wealth. This is where many folks from the direct marketing, at home business industry usually focus on when building a legion of affiliated sales representatives. These business entities have a system of “downlines” which a representative can establish a team of people who are duplicating in the efforts of promoting and selling a company’s product lines; while making a commission on other affiliates or sales reps below them; thus coining such business models as multi-level marketing companies. These companies refer this as your “organization.”

Many of the sales reps of this type of organization will usually focus on building out teams of sales reps on downline levels, believing that such an “opportunity” has the ability to create residual income; thus reps will place a priority on offering the “opportunity” instead of focusing on the products and services which are the true value proposition.

Sometimes a telemarketer will call you in trying to sell a product or service, and call their value proposition an “opportunity,” instead of what they are actually offering, which is to get you to buy a product or service from them. I have seen sales reps overuse the word “opportunity,” in trying to pitch their product or service offering; in trying to hype up the value proposition, or the benefits of the thing they are selling; when they should be focused on building a relationship.

Though in recent years, the word opportunity has gotten a bad rap, in the past, the word opportunity always was associated with a positive, uplifting projection.

For instance, if we look at depressed neighborhoods (in the city or country); which have a lack of a standard of living, it was found in a number of studies, the reason why selected neighborhoods had poor economic foundations were the lack of opportunities. These opportunities absent from the community included better education options, the availability of better paying jobs, affordable housing, and community focused programs that encourage individuals to engage in activities that would uplift and improve their surroundings. Thus was born the idea that in trying to improve neighborhood conditions, town and city planners would try to incorporate more opportunities as they became more available.

The legendary iconic comedian Milton Berle once said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock; build a door.”

Sometimes the opportunities we seek may not be available, thus entrepreneurs are born. A person might be working for a company, and that company might not want to invest into their employee’s idea, however that potential idea may lead to a new invention which the world will find valuable. If the demand for the invention rises, the law of supply and demand takes over, thus creating an equal or greater wealth value exchange. So the employee decides to go at it on their own, develops their idea, takes it to market, and capitalizes on the value of the idea, product, or service they have created; and in this case, the entrepreneur is creating their own opportunity.

The creation of one’s own opportunity is common in the world of small business ownership. Though there are many reasons why a person decides to start their own business, one of the main reasons a person will open shop is to have more economic opportunities to create wealth for their family, friends, and community.

In creating your own opportunity, you must keep in mind that it is your decisions, your dedication and commitment, your perseverance, and your own work efforts that will ultimately shape whether your opportunity was a success or failure. Even in failure, opportunities are born.

Before you discount or accept an opportunity, it is a safe practice to measure the pros and cons of opportunity. Some measurements to consider is the financial cost or investment; the investment of time and length of time the opportunity will require before you see a return on your investment of money or time or both; an accounting of the risk involved; and what are the benefits of the opportunity.

Understand that not everyone is in the same position to absorb all of the risk that may be associated with an opportunity, so if you are the one presenting the “opportunity,” you should not be angry at someone if they decide to take a pass on your proposed offering. Only that person knows their own situation 100 percent, and it is the responsibility of that individual to take stock in measuring the opportunity to see if it lines up with their set of circumstances.