The word opportunism is often expressed with a negative tone and associated with selfishness, but I think it is the greatest virtue for a successful entrepreneur. Business is not charity and has to be done with the sole motive of profit. To earn profit you must be prepared to wait for the opportunity at the right time or at least make it work in your favour. I have learned this lesson long back.
In 1990 when the Iraqi forces attacked Kuwait, a war broke out between Iraq and the rival international alliance. Since Dubai is a major international business hub of UAE, the fear of possible bomb attacks by Iraq gripped the Dubai citizens. The entire business world in Dubai came under severe pressure and many businessmen thought it better to shift to other countries for shelter. But I was not in a position to leave the city quickly as I had stored a huge consignment in my warehouses for the upcoming festival season.
Soon a number of shops in Dubai closed their shutters. People preferred to stay at home rather than venturing outside. Actually I was also scared internally as the hustle and bustle in my shop was dissipating. After all I was a small shopkeeper. How long could I survive the loss? I would have been devastated had the city faced an attack. The panic made me have sleepless nights.
I was caught in a dilemma and could not decide whether to leave the city or not. But one day I got my answer when I was watching a cricket match on TV. I saw the batsman of a surviving team playing with patience and accumulating more runs. He waited for the right ball and then hit it for a boundary. A Hindi phrase ‘Mauka dekh ke chauka marne ka’ (Wait for a chance and then hit boundary) popped in my mind. I decided not to leave the city and face the consequences patiently.
Just then, the situation took a strange turn. People began buying and storing groceries and foodstuffs hastily. They were ready to pay any price for it. In fact it was a huge opportunity for any cunning trader to make a huge profit, but my conscience and honesty kept me away from selecting the path of temptation. Even in a war-like situation, I sold all the items at their regular market prices, finished all my consignments and ordered fresh imports. When the situation quietened down, I earned not only a handsome profit and appreciation, but a strong trust from customers and I have never broken that trust until now.
A quote by Albert Einstein describes this situation – In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.