Entrepreneurs See Opportunity in Bad News


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We have had a lot of negative information in the news lately, with the foreclosure problems, bank solvency and the economic slowdown. This spate of bad news got me thinking about how successful entrepreneurs often see negative information differently from the rest of us. They often see opportunities in negative news.

For instance, several entrepreneurs responded to news about global warming to see an opportunity for mining for minerals in the arctic, which are becoming more accessible due to the melting of the polar ice cap. There were entrepreneurs who capitalized on the increased demand for the American flag after 9/11 by selling products with the American flag on them. And there are entrepreneurs who have responded to the foreclosure crisis by providing services inspecting and cleaning up foreclosed homes for the banks that now own them.

My point is not that the negative news isn’t bad. It is.

But even bad events bring opportunity. The fact that some successful entrepreneurs hear the bad news and think about the opportunities that such news creates, when most people think about the bad outcomes in bad news, is instructive. It points out something about a way of thinking that successful entrepreneurs seem to have.

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About the Author: Scott Shane is A. Malachi Mixon III, Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of seven books, including Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths that Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By and Finding Fertile Ground: Identifying Extraordinary Opportunities for New Ventures

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Scott Shane Scott Shane is A. Malachi Mixon III, Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of nine books, including Fool's Gold: The Truth Behind Angel Investing in America ; Illusions of Entrepreneurship: and The Costly Myths that Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By.