How often do you hear success stories based around the idea of being in the right place at the right time ?
1990 in South Africa – A watershed year
1990 was an interesting time politically and economically in South Africa. In February the African National Congress (ANC) was unbanned. On the 11th of February 1990 (my wedding day), Nelson Mandela was released from jail.
About six months after that, my good friend Jonathan and I decided to leave our cushy corporate jobs and go out into the entrepreneurial world. Our aim was to become corporate consultants and help businesses to be better. The only challenge was that we were 26-year-old MBAs with no real-world experience, trying to convince the world that we knew how to run their businesses.
The model was somewhat flawed. We won one contract and then the work dried up. We were at a loss and we decided to start an education business. With very little hesitation, and very little thought or market research, we plunged in. That business, fortunately, went through six years of rapid growth. It would seem that we were, in fact, in the right place at the right time.
Why the right place at the right time ?
The easing of political restrictions on the majority of South Africans created a hunger for education, with not enough places to fulfill that need for education. And we happened to start at the right place at the right time and could fill that gap.
Fast forward to 2020
So how is that relevant to today? How is that relevant to the political and emotional turmoil that has shaken the world over the last few months in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic?
Those who are in the right place at the right time and have managed to adapt to the new world. Those who have developed new ideas, new products, new visions, new missions, new statements of purpose and truly understand their why and the why of the people that they’re dealing with. They are in the right place at the right time.
And so being in the right place at the right time is now in whatever business you’re in. It is about looking at that business in a lot of detail, without getting caught in the detail.
Just Dive In
Sometimes it might be about grabbing an opportunity as we did way back in 1990 and saying, let’s see if this works. We are in the modern age of information overload. We tend to be in a position where we have too much information and we fall into the trap of analysis paralysis. So don’t get caught in that, and don’t be afraid to be bold and brave in the new world. Sometimes it’s easier to release a rough ‘most valuable product’ and learn and adapt as you’re growing.
We are talking of moving a business model along to a point that makes sense in the new world, without returning to our ways of pre coronavirus.