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David FullerYou’ve probably never heard of Ron Wayne, but had he not sold his 10 percent share in Apple Computer shortly after it launched, ultimately for US$2,300, he might now be as famous as partners Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. He could now be worth $40 billion.

But he isn’t.

Joe Green was Mark Zuckerberg’s roommate in college, Zuckerberg asked him if he wanted to help with his project called Facebook. Green was talked out of it by his father. The rest is history. Green’s five percent stake in that business would have been worth $7 billion today.

But it isn’t.

Digg was started in 2004 as a news site. By 2007, it had over 235 million annual visitors. In 2008, founder Kevin Rose was offered $80 million for the company but turned it down. Instead, in 2012 the company was sold for only $500,000 and broken apart. Rose could have been a millionaire.

It didn’t happen.

This week, I was at a ski resort getting in the last few runs of the season and I was reminded by my wife that in 2012 I could have bought a condo there for $250,000. Those condos are now worth $600,000.

It didn’t happen.

Opportunity surrounds us and if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’ve had chances to invest in projects, land, businesses or buildings. You might not have had the opportunities of Wayne or Green, but perhaps someone once gave you a ‘hot’ stock tip to invest in and you didn’t.

So what holds us back?

  • Sometimes, it’s the money. We don’t think we have enough to put into an investment.
  • Other times, like Green, we’re talked out of it by family or friends.
  • Many times we don’t see the value in the opportunity, or think the timing isn’t right and we’ll have a better chance later.
  • Most times we think that the risk is too high so we don’t get involved.

Failure to take a chance on an opportunity doesn’t happen just in our business lives. Think about all the opportunities you’ve had to make new friends, take a trip, get better educated, fall in love, spend more time with friends or family, or to live on the edge a little. For whatever reason, we chose not to take those opportunities.

But we can’t spend our lives regretting the decisions we made, crying over spilled milk or lost opportunities.

Ultimately, no one else cares about how much money we have or how many investments we have if we aren’t nice people. It’s true that often in our society we look up to people who have riches or have made something from nothing. But why should we be envious of them?

Do you really think that an extra million or even billion dollars is going to make your life that much better? Chances are that if you’re not happy now, no amount of money is going to make you happier. You probably know of people who have plenty of money but are miserable. It’s not the money that makes us happy.

Yes, more money can reduce your stress levels. I write in my book Profit Yourself Healthy about how we need money to do exactly that. We need money to pay our bills, keep the banker off our back and hire people to do jobs that reduce our stress levels.

But why do we kick ourselves because we missed out on an opportunity?

If we were to invest in every opportunity that was presented to us, there’s a good chance we would be broke. Most opportunities, investments and ‘hot’ stock tips end up losing money. In fact, 50 percent of all businesses fail after a couple of years.

If we look at opportunities with an open mind, investigate them as we should and follow our gut instinct, whether it’s in business, friendships or chances to improve ourselves, we’ll make the right decisions.

We’re not going to get it right every time. We’ll bet on some lame horses and make some bad investments. I have and I suspect you have as well.

However, the sun comes up every day and there will be another opportunity for each of us to make a difference. And to take a chance to make our world a better place.

Opportunity continues to knock!

Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Email [email protected].

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