Saturday, August 23, 2014

Opportunity Knocks

Have you ever been presented with an opportunity that you knew was a good idea? Even though you knew it was a good idea, did you still experience fear? Fear is a powerful and persistent thing for many people. For some fear can be paralyzing. For the most part I consider fear to be an enemy of progress and growth.

Are there times that fear is necessary?  Fear throws all of your senses into overdrive. If you see a car heading straight for you, fear can quicken your reaction time. In acute unexpected situations fear can be beneficial, but in my opinion that is about it. We are going to talk about a couple of opportunities that my family have and cover one of the ways I help make a decision when it seems tough.

I am not saying you should take every opportunity, even if it is a good one, it might not be good for you. I am saying that you should never make a decision based on fear unless an immediate action is required i.e. getting out of the way of a speeding car.

Opportunities do not have to be business or money related. I have had the opportunity to get 2 bushels of apples for free. Big opportunity.

Opportunities are all around us. Some are in your face and some you have to search for.

My family has two opportunities that have recently started to materialize. First, my wife has registered to become a CPR instructor. Second, my dad has been presented with the opportunity to grow pork for a regional restaurant chain.

Both of these opportunities have initial up front costs. Both have the ability to choose their own paycheck. Both have major responsibility and benefits.

CPR Instructor

My wife has talked about becoming a CPR Instructor since she was in the respiratory program in college. There is a little fear involved. In order to become an instructor you have to take an online course and find somewhere that has an instructor course. You cannot take the instructor course until after you have completed the online portion.

Once you have completed both the online training and the instructor class an instructor must watch you teach a course. This is the part that my wife is most concerned about. Sometimes she gets stage fright. I know she will do well. 

We will be buying a set of CPR mannequins and printing my wife some business cards. Once everything is complete my wife can start scheduling classes. She will be reaching out to people who have not been properly served.

I am so excited for her. I know she will be 
great. Look for more details coming soon.

The Pork Business

My dad has been working toward self reliance for a couple of years. He has been doing the truck farm thing and has done well, but it is a lot of work and not a big return. He never complained, but with the changing regulations he has found it more difficult.

How he landed the opportunity to produce pork for a growing restaurant chain, I don't know. What I do know is he is only going to use a portion of his land and the restaurant wants 10 hogs a month.

This will provide my dad with a much needed income stream while still allowing him flexibility to work toward a more self sustainable life. It is a big deal.

Evaluating an Opportunity

How have you evaluated an opportunity? Do you write out checklists, pros and cons, or just go with your gut feelings? Unless you just go with your gut feeling, in some way you think about the advantages and disadvantages of an opportunity. Some advantages as well as some disadvantages are more important than others. You cannot just make a list of pros and cons, count the number of items in each list and come up with an answer. A simple list doesn't take into consideration the gravity of each individual pro and con.

If you are looking into buying a new piece of property, there may be one or two things that if a property does not have them, even if the property is perfect in every other way you will pass on the purchase. Things that are that important are called deal breakers. They "weigh" more to you than all of the other things combined. This concept is called a weighted average.

Here is an example. We are going to look at the possibility of me starting wilderness survival classes. Something I have seriously thought about doing for some time. For this example I am going to rate each pro on a 10 point scale. 10 being critically important and 1 being a consideration, but not very important. Ready?

  • Being my own boss again (8)
  • Being able to work outside (7)
  • Teaching something I love (10)
  • The ability to set my own schedule (9)
  • My children could participate if they chose (6)
  • I could decide how much I wanted to earn and work toward that goal (4)
  • Build local respect (4)
  • Networking with people interested in the same type things as I (5)
  • I will need an apprentice (5)
I could go on, but you get the point.

  • Liability insurance (9)
  • Having to deal with difficult students (8)
  • Working with a state run park (6)
  • Communication challenges due to weather (4)
  • Cost of equipment (6)
  • Cost of operation (6)
  • Dealing with state and local regulations (8)
  • Being away from my family if they choose not to participate (7)
  • I will need an apprentice (4)
  • Dealing with attorneys for solid waiver. (7)
  • Dealing with allergies of others (3)
Okay just looking at these two lists, to me it looks like it is almost dead even. But is it really? I have not done the math a head of time so we will find out together. There are 9 pros and 11 cons. If we simply count the pros versus cons, I will not look into teaching any farther. But is that wise?

Now to the math. If I add the ratings of the pros together the sum is 58 and the sum of the ratings of the cons is 68. Only 10 apart. If I stop there it looks like the math tells me not to teach these classes. However, if we take into consideration their weight it looks a little different. 58 divided by 9 gives us 6.44 and 69 divided by 11 gives us 6.18. Wow, that is pretty close, but by the math I should consider offering these classes. The difference of 0.33 or one third of a basis point is statistically significant. 

The numbers above may change as I do more research, but the fact that the pros have the upper hand in intensity has encouraged me to do just that. If the cons would have had the majority after the math that idea would have had to set for a while. 

Do I do this for every decision? Heck no! Somethings I just look and decide, others I consider more intently. I want you to have additional tools to help you decide when opportunities come your way. There are lots of different ways to weigh a decision.

Opportunities are all around you. Get out there and find one or more that will help you achieve your...
Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes.

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