What the Czech Republic can teach you about success
Tips for Entrepreneurs: It’s time to monetize the knowledge you know, the information you read and the people you encounter.
By ISSAMAR GINZBERG
Would you pay good money to tour the homes of corrupt government officials? Apparently a lot of people would.The demand in Prague for the tours of the home’s of dirty dealing officials is keeping the tour’s founder, Petr Sourek, very busy. Sourek got the idea to start tours of the homes of the corrupt officials after one story too many about dishonest politicians in Prague.In Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, Gordon Fairclough and Sean Carney wrote about Sourek’s company, which he calls “CorrupTour.”It’s a small operation that began earlier this year when Sourek put his idea to the test and literally began “offering sightseeing trips to places associated with alleged dirty dealing.”Corruption is everywhere in the Czech Republic, but apparently it’s particularly plentiful between the Prague government and the town’s local oligarchs-of-sorts.Cute article, right? Give a chuckle and move on.But hang on a second. Sourek’s story is powerful. And reading about it can open a world of opportunities for you. How? By getting you to think about “how could I do something like that around here?” It doesn’t have to be criminal tours, or tours at all. It can be anything.AdvertisementOpportunity is hiding in plain sight in your newspaper, magazines or even among your conversations with friends. You must just learn to keep an eye out for it! Scottish billionaire Duncan Bannatyne, one of the stars of the hit Television show Dragon’s Den, talks about this concept in his terrific book, Anyone Can Do It.Bannatyne discussed how he had no inside information, and nothing in the way of resources that was different from anyone else. What he did have however, was the newspaper. He read about how Margaret Thatcher, the UK Prime Minister at the time, changed the rules of the national health system. Instead of just keeping the elderly in hospital wards they were to be given the opportunity to go to residential-care homes.Information is power. Information combined with insight equals money. Duncan ran with that information (available to everyone!) and with it he started his empire. He had to sell his house and borrow money on credit cards to get it done, but ultimately, Bannatyne sold the company 10 years later for £46 million pounds.There is so much information in this very paper you are reading.And with today’s technology, there is more information at your fingertips than even the biggest merchants of ancient times had.A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about “California’s big secret” and the way the state of California had a site that could give anyone the information they needed to start a business piggy-backing on the millions of dollars expended by existing companies and handed to you free, instantly, and on a silver platter.That, in and of itself, is a business, in more ways than one.I had a meeting last week with a client of mine, Shia Getter.Shia is a real estate expert from Jerusalem, and we sat down to develop a six-month strategy plan to take his business to the next level. When I started to pick his brain in search of nuggets of real estate wisdom he had overlooked, he was skeptical about just how much knowledge he might have that others didn’t.Within just a few minutes, he was on a roll, shooting off numbers and real estate traps that many investors and olim to Israel suffer when trying to buy an apartment. The attendees were shocked at just how much information can be extracted by asking the right questions. Asking yourself the right questions can lead you to entirely new direction in business. Shia has now started writing a book about what people need to know before buying property in Jerusalem.You have knowledge to share. That knowledge is worth money – over and above what your existing business makes. It’s time to monetize the knowledge you know, the information you read and the people you encounter.How do you find it? Ask yourself what comes easily to you.What knowledge, skills or resources do you have, have access to, or know that other people come to you for advice or help with? Now, who would be willing to pay for those skills, insights, knowledge or help? There you go! It might be a book. It might be a business. You might decide to coach or speak or teach. That’s up to you. But it’s possible. You are the only thing standing between you and the next great idea. If you don’t know what you’re good at, ask your friends and family. Pay attention to what people ask or want when they come to you for help. Then expand the idea and play with firstname.lastname@example.orgIssamar Ginzberg is a business adviser, marketer, professional speaker and rabbi who has been published in more than 50 business publications.