It’s a new year.   That means it is traditionally a good time to review the past and resolve the future.  This year, we started out just being cold.  But with some on-again, off-again January thaw kicking in, it is time to take a look to the future.

Last month I had the privilege to serve as a judge for the finals of the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation’s Idea Challenge.  Earlier in the fall I did the same for the Startup48 event.  It is encouraging to see the increasing amount of activity in the Chippewa Valley for new business ideas.  Each of the events has a buzz of excitement and anticipation, which makes for a fun time.

The entrepreneurial culture in the region continues to improve.  This is a good thing, and we at Musky Tank are proud to be a small part of the ecosystem.  If you have an idea for a business, now is a good time to pursue your dream.  Go ahead and make 2018 the year to start.  But be fairly advised.  There is a tremendous difference between a business idea and a business opportunity.

If we sat around the table with a couple beverages, any two or three of us could generate dozens of business ideas (give me a shout if you want to do this sometime).  It would be a fun exercise.  But what does it take to turn those ideas into business opportunities?

I found an article from November 7, 2015 that summarizes the concept much better than I:

“A business idea may or may not be a business opportunity……. Let us try to understand the difference. An idea is like a seed, an impression of a concept or a notion that revolves around a seemingly successful product or service. A thought that needs some amount of commercial validation before it shapes itself into an opportunity. Opportunity is the care and nurturing that a gardener has to endeavor for to turn the seed into a sapling and then allow it to grow into a tall tree. The gardener ensures that it gets good soil, sunshine, proper environment and protection from harsh rains or weather conditions…… The business owner or the management team must own the responsibility of its success or failure regardless of the circumstances. Successful entrepreneurs are good at turning ideas into opportunities. They act. They execute to make it all happen.”

Well said.

There are many elements that go into determining that the idea is an opportunity, and how to take advantage of that opportunity.  We will discuss many of these in future conversations.

I encourage you to use this new year to take advantage of some of the many chances to get out and explore the process to cultivate Chippewa Valley’s business ideas into opportunities.

Musky Tank Mixers are a series of networking events that (free of charge) will let you rub elbows with other entrepreneurs and service providers in a fun environment with no obligations.  We hold these events once a month rotating throughout the Chippewa Valley.

Another networking event series is 1 Million Cups   This is a weekly event held Wednesday mornings at CVTC.

Also be sure to check out .

These are just a few of the resources available and connections you can make.  The important thing is to act.