Opportunities exist everywhere, all the time. Do not let anyone mislead you to believe that living in a small town in rural North Carolina has to be an insurmountable obstacle to doing well, individually or collectively.
The trick is to figure out what the opportunities are, what they might pay … and whether they are worth doing or risking time and money on … or not. Some opportunities are more obvious than others, some will have big payoffs, some small; some will require large investments and some not. Chances of finding an opportunity that is, at once, obvious, lucrative and cheap are typically pretty low.
Generally speaking, if you have one or two of these three lucky conditions, the other is going to be elusive. But that is not to say you cannot, or should not, try and that in a nutshell is what separates entrepreneurs from everyone else. If you can combine a willingness to take a chance with hundreds — or thousands — of hours of hard work, potentially tossing in your life savings and giving up a sure wage at something else, you might be an entrepreneur. And rural communities like ours are perfect for entrepreneurs, especially in the 21st century.
Take advantage of our collective situation. Capitalize on your own strengths and the strengths of the area we live in and think of producing something you can sell to anyone anywhere, noting that in this century we are not confined to selling things in our own town, state or country. Anyone with access to a computer and a camera can post an ad and photo for a product you have made. Perhaps you like to sew, or make things of wood or steel, or you are an artist or a writer or make honey. Butchers, bakers, candlestick makers …. just about everyone has at least one thing they can do better than anyone else.
So just do it.
Make a “widget” … put a price on it, put it on EBay, or Craigslist, or Amazon. See what the response is. Go on line, find out more about your competition. Find out what others are selling their widgets for. Find out if red widgets sell better than blue widgets, if big widgets are more popular than small widgets. Determine if you can charge a dollar more or sell twice as many at slight discount from the other guys. This is market research; it is not rocket science and anyone — believe me — can do it. Figure out if you can make it for less, or make it in less time. Find your competitive advantage to the other widgets on the market and build on the strengths you have to do things better than your competition.
Take advantage of our low labor costs, our low costs of warehouse and factory space. Take advantage of outreach programs from the college and university that are eager to help fresh entrepreneurs. Think about the fact that a girl or guy in California has labor and overhead that costs three times as much as yours, and they are actually making a living doing the same thing you can do here for less. And you might be able to do it better to boot.
Someone living in Iowa or Texas doesn’t care whether you made it in California or in Robeson County. By the same token, someone living in Sweden or France or Australia doesn’t care either. Go make a great living for yourself, what’s really stopping you? Right now you have 7 billion potential customers, right at your fingertips. Just think if each one of them spent $1 on your widget, you could take next week off.
Rob Redfearn is a business strategist/consultant and CEO of TerraStar Energy (USA), based in Lumberton, which develops and operates renewable energy power plants in North America, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa.