What can you learn from an entrepreneurial MOOC?

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The East Rand, just outside Johannesburg, has an infestation of Norway rats. Things have become so bad that people kill them and throw them in the street. One local business person said the rats are big as his size nine shoe and that his two big dogs “deal with them”.

A small fact tucked in the article mentioned that the municipality was spending “millions a year” to fight the scourge.

If you are entrepreneurially minded, where do you see the opportunity in these giant-sized rats?

Chunking it down, you might see opportunities for pest control businesses, rat poison and even a system for devising better waste disposal.

The entrepreneur has to look for opportunities wherever they are. Entrepreneurs are ever watchful for problems where they can provide solutions. Often the business is better where the job is more dirty and where others don’t want to get involved.

A mind that is open to opportunities is one of the key ingredients in the entrepreneurial psyche. If you have not started or run an entrepreneurial business, then how do you go about learning to be more opportunity minded?

A university in Malaysia is running a 15-week mass open online course (MOOC) for people who want to build and fund their own companies. The course, which is free, helps people sharpen their opportunity-seeking skills. It even involves a module on rewiring your brain for opportunity.

It’s one thing talking about business ideas but it’s another thing finding viable business ideas and concepts and turning them into a start-up or small business. Imagine, if you will, that you had to start a new business in the next few weeks. Where would you find ideas to start that new business? How would you evaluate your ideas when you came up with them? How would you implement your ideas?

In this economic environment with mass retrenchments now being announced almost every week, many more people will be out there looking for opportunities to create income. It takes a certain attitude, a definite mindset to be constantly on the lookout for business opportunities. Often what seems to be a nasty problem like the rat infestation of many townships and inner cities can become an opportunity if one can come up with a cheaper, faster and easier solution.

How would you go about finding a business opportunity? It could start with a scan of your local city newspapers. You could go talk to people. You could take a walk around areas where you live that are unfamiliar to you. You could visit shopping malls and light industrial areas. Some people find ideas in their daily activities at home and at work where they come up with products for gardens, pets, household cleaners, beverage holders and funky clothing.

Sometimes an idea will come to you but it is too broad or raw in its present form. It will require further development. Do you have idea development and generation tools at your fingertips that you can use to make something more commercially viable from your original idea? Tools such as Fusion Cards, the 20-Idea Method and even freewriting can assist in turning your original idea into something that people can find useful in their personal and business lives.

If you aren’t presently working on at least three new ideas, isn’t it time to go out and find them?

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