When should we attempt to enter the market? When can we start to talk about our ideas? And who else is doing the same thing?
Under these various conditions of uncertainty, we come across the ‘window of opportunity’.
Getting a product to market can take a long time. Ensuring its robustness, trialling it, researching markets, and gathering resources are all long-winded processes so…
- By the time you can achieve this, it may be that a faster moving competitor enters the market and takes a dominant position;
- Or that by the time the technology comes to market, the perceived need has moved on;
- Or perhaps complementary technologies of the relevant infrastructure is still many years away from making it all happen.
It would seem that entrepreneurial people have an uncanny knack for getting the timing right. On the whole, they seem better able to make bets on when to enter a market or even when to get out, for example, from holding shares in a company. They seem to be lucky, the chances are in their favour or they seem to have the ability to draw on serendipity.
It’s not by chance...
Luck, chance and serendipity may all be correct in certain circumstances but, in reality, all these are enhanced by people being alert to their environment, being among people who know what is going on, sharing tacit knowledge, market information and expert opinions.
As legendary golfer, Gary Player famously remarked: “The more I practise, the luckier I get”. He also said persistence and common sense are more important than intelligence.
A deep knowledge and ability...
You need a great deal of depth and breadth of knowledge about the marketplace – much more than about your own product or technology. This is to understand market trends, customers’ hot buttons, convenience, reliability, cost advantages, existence of supply chains, the strengths and weaknesses of competition, the government regulations that might govern the markets you plan to enter, industry standards, safety criteria and much more.
This deep knowledge and ability to interpret the signals from the market has more to do with how you and your team build the business than with some element of luck. After all, you are not betting on horses or playing at a roulette table!
Sure there is luck that can go your way (or indeed against you) because a competitor takes some action or there is an unexpected event like a natural disaster. But these are part of our understanding of risk and its management, rather than a central part of a business plan.
Many thanks to Dr Shai Vyakarnam, Director of the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship, Cranfield School of Management, for this blog content.