Our eyes are placed In front because it is more important to look ahead than to look back!

Young entrepreneurs need to be constantly searching for opportunities and thinking ahead. Instead of being afraid to fail, you need to be afraid not to try.

Follow these few steps to help you search for opportunities.

Join a networking organisation which might be a young entrepreneur’s group or a Chamber of Commerce or some form of business specific group. Be prepared to attend meetings and to talk to people you do not know! Arm yourself with business cards and other promotional material; take big breaths and walk up to someone and say hullo! They will be as nervous as you! If you do not get what you want from your first group, then try another one. The more you search for opportunities the more they are likely to find you!

Use Facebook and LinkedIn to communicate with other like-minded people and share ideas. You do not have to give away all your secrets. If you are given contacts or webpage information, then follow them up even if they might not sound central to what you need. In my experience, it is often a long circular route to get to a place of real interest to you. Be prepared to invest time to search, talk, research, try things out, experiment, read, observe. Enjoy the journey!

Share your ideas and skills with others – while you are wanting to learn from them, they will want to learn from you!

Opportunities are unlikely to come to you if you are passive and take no action. If you are nervous and shy, then try to get a friend to go with you. Spend time looking at ideas on the internet – Google widely.

If you can, join groups that focus on creativity and innovation — hang out with others who are also exploring ideas. Yumi Work in Port Vila provides a space for people to do just that. Last week over 200 people watched the launch of Raise Vanuatu – the first crowd funding programme in Vanuatu. 10 young entrepreneurs work together as part of V Lab, Port Vila, where they learn together, share ideas and generally expand their horizons. The University of South Pacific is establishing innovation hubs at its campuses around the Pacific.

You will not identify a possible opportunity if you travel with your eyes, and your mind, closed! Fixed mindsets stop us from seeing the unusual or the uncommon. Thinking outside the box is a much-used phrase that is much easier to say than do. It is unlikely we are going to find new opportunities inside our own worlds and experiences – the challenge is to find our way into someone else’s!

While they play an important part in our lives, our comfort zones can also stop us from moving on – it is very easy to become over comfortable and stuck.

Whenever you look at a glass which is half filled with water you have a choice as to how you see it – it is either half full or half empty. Young entrepreneurs take a half-full approach to life – they are constantly looking for opportunities to fill the glass! In these difficult times small businesses and individual entrepreneurs are leading the way in the Pacific to seek out and create new opportunities. New markets are being found for local tourism businesses; new markets are being created for local handicraft maskers; farmers are getting better at meeting the needs of customers. I recently coached a group of local handicraft producers in Port Vila about finding ways of selling their products, in spite of the huge reduction of traditional customers – tourists. Between them they are sharing their ideas and working together to find new opportunities which will benefit them all.

Looking back gives you regrets; looking ahead gives you opportunities.

Next week I explore how young entrepreneurs use technology wisely and well, knowing that lots of data has to be collected to help inform the correct decision making. This is, of course, not the same as being on Facebook all day!

Have a good week.

Please contact me if you have an interesting story to tell and are happy for it to be told.

Breadfruit Consulting (www.breadfruitconsulting.com) is a Vanuatu-based business providing advice, training, coaching, and mentoring to businesses throughout the Pacific islands. Breadfruit specialises in a range of business development activities including ‘business continuity planning and action’, helping businesses to survive in a crisis, designing and starting new, sustainable businesses. Contact chris@breadfruitconsulting.com or hazel@breadfruitconsulting.com

During this series of articles, I am highlighting the passions, visions, and missions of young Pacific entrepreneurs and how they are turning these into sustainable and resilient businesses with the hope that these stories will inspire others! It is a privilege and a pleasure to be working with these young people and I want to thank them for helping to keep me young too!

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