Many people fancy themselves millionaires and entrepreneurs – it’s just that they haven’t had that million-dollar idea yet. Or they are still waiting for the Almighty to strike them with a bolt of creative genius. Sitting around and waiting for something – anything – to happen may seem like a sound strategy, but success comes to those who take action. Those who seize the initiative. Those who can see a million-dollar idea when it’s staring them in the face, but arrives in the guise of a minor discomfort or inconvenience.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur is not easy. Watching Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s story unfold over the course of a two-hour movie can leave you inspired, but it omits the months and years of working all night, fracturing personal relationships, and sacrificing every ounce of free time in order to achieve a goal. And that’s the ugly truth of entrepreneurship, in most cases.
But Zuckerberg saw something that no one else did. He saw opportunity. And instead of waiting around, he jumped on it. It may have been shady, in some respects, but Zuckerberg’s willingness to pounce on an opportunity he identified made him a very, very rich man.
Where most people see dysfunction, others see opportunity. A chance to jump into the fray, and use their creativity to solve a problem. And make some money while doing it.
That’s the mark of an effective entrepreneur. And you can fine-tune your own radar as well.
The Cheat Sheet recently spoke with Sieva Kozinsky about opportunity, and how he used his ability to see and resolve a problem to found his company StudySoup with co-founder Jeff Silverman – even though they weren’t exactly on the hunt for a business idea. StudySoup was started in 2014, while the two were students at the University of California Santa Barbara, and provides students a peer-to-peer network for study materials. Basically, it allows students from more than 150 schools to swap notes – and make money.
Here’s what Kozinsky had to say about the founding of StudySoup, and how he and his co-founder took an opportunity that was offered up to the next level.
The Cheat Sheet: What is the short and sweet version of StudySoup’s history?
TCS: Were you an entrepreneur looking for an opportunity, or did you see an opportunity and then become an entrepreneur?
TCS: What problem does StudySoup solve?
TCS: What were your first steps after recognizing the problem?
TCS: What factors or qualities do you hold that you think helped the business become a success?
TCS: Do you have any advice for others looking to start a business, or looking for an opportunity?
And be sure to check out Kozinksy’s company, StudySoup.