How do we find opportunities from ideas and what separates the two? There are millions of ideas a day but what are these opportunities that can lead to business success? An opportunity is an idea that’s passed the test of planning. It has potential. You can implement it. It is something that can take a problem or issue and should be something that can change the way people think or live. In reality a good idea is nothing more than a tool in the hands of an entrepreneur.

The person with the idea must also be knowledgeable enough to know what is involved in making an idea a reality. This includes the research involved, the business plan for the idea, the organizational structure needed, and the vision for the sustainment of the idea. The business planning process is about filtering the opportunities — a precious few, requiring focus, and planning — from the ideas.
After this groundwork is accomplished, the person with the idea must follow-through with the gathering of capital and assets to transform the idea into the reality. With this reality check, the entrepreneur is a person that can take the idea and transform it into reality, through all phases of the project. That is why our motto is “From Idea to Implementation,” its one thing to have an idea but implementing it takes a lot of hard work. Without a thorough understanding of business and the world today, the typical idea-man will never survive.

So you have a great idea. When is it an opportunity? For an idea to become an opportunity, it must have the following four fundamental anchors:

1. They create or add significant value to a customer or end user.

2. They do so by solving a significant problem, removing a serious pain point, or meeting a significant want or need – for which someone is willing to pay a premium.

3. They have robust market, margin, and money-making characteristics that will allow the entrepreneur to estimate and communicate sustainable value to potential stakeholders: large enough, high growth, high gross margins, strong and early free cash flow (recurring revenue, low assets, and working capital), high profit potential, and attractive, realizable returns for investors.

4. They are a good fit with the founder(s) and management team at the time and marketplace – along with an attractive risk-reward balance.

These four anchors can give anyone with an entrepreneurial idea a proven way of determining or at least beginning to determine if their idea is really an opportunity that should be pursued. Opportunities are all around us. We here at Coastal Business Strategies have met several entrepreneurs who have either found a void in a business and created a new, better business themselves or they have found something that was a problem and saw an opportunity of how it could be “easier.” The single most important factor I feel is vital in exploring opportunities is creativity. Creativity usually creates an idea, but using out-of-the-box thinking will help harness the window of opportunity in creating a new business or product. It is tough work implementing an idea to address and opportunity and turning into a successful business venture but with the right planning, resources and attitude, it could be something that could change the world. As Thomas Alva Edison, inventor and entrepreneur once said, “Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Motivate yourself to look at situations, products and services differently. What is it missing? How can it be better? It may look like a lot of work, but if you were to do it how would you do it differently? Keep your eyes open and find those opportunities in Wilmington, they are out there!

Author's Bio: 

My name is Don Pleger and I am the owner of Coastal Business Strategies (, a one-stop shop for small business owners and entrepreneurs. We are a company that works side by side with state agencies (Small Business Centers, Development Centers, Commissions, etc) in assisting small business owners throughout the area in starting their small business or expanding their current business. Our company is staffed with a 100% MBA workforce from award winning business plan teams and graphic designers who specialize in mobile applications and web presence. Our services range from business plans, grant writing, web design, web databases, iphone/ipad apps, and so much more! Check us out