Steve Marr Blog

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Jun 05

Seizing Opportunities

Posted by: Steve Marr

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When I was younger I lived in a Detroit suburb where there was a municipal park on Lake St. Clair. I liked fishing but didn’t have a boat so I frequently fished from the park pier. Most days I caught something and at least had an opportunity to fish. I learned that for two weeks at the end of May there would be a run of what we called silver bass. The current in the lake would brush up against the pier to create the moving water these fish liked. If you dropped a jig or small spinner in the right spot you could consistently catch 15 to 25 fish in a few hours. While these fish were not large, usually ranging between 10 and 14 inches, they were fun and easy to catch. However, when the run ended; the fish were gone. You either caught them during the short window or missed your opportunity. Likewise in business we need to access opportunities when they are available.


When I was in international trade I received a phone call from a competitor that was in severe financial difficulty. The business was a few days from bankruptcy. The owner, “Brian,” was desperately looking for a way out. I met with Brian and within a few days I was able to structure an agreement to pay Brian a price based on the income receipts from his customers over the next year. Under the circumstances this was the best deal Brian would be able to obtain. It was also a good arrangement for our company. The key was to make a quick decision, make a fast offer and be able to execute it immediately. This was what I would call a target of opportunity that would have disappeared very quickly if we had failed to act.

A carpet cleaning business closed and I was advising “Peter” who owned a competing business that he should immediately do a target mailing into the neighborhoods that the competitor served.  The location contained prime prospects because they needed a new service provider. Peter followed my advice and was able to obtain additional customers fairly quickly.  The swiftness of his action influenced his results.

We read an example in scripture where Jeremiah wrote, “There they will exclaim, 'Pharaoh king of Egypt is only a loud noise; he has missed his opportunity.’” (Jeremiah 46:17, NIV) In business when presented with targets of opportunity where we have the time and resources to capture the moment, we need to act quickly and not follow the example of Pharaoh who lost a critical opportunity.

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