I was on my tractor one day, clearing some trees that had fallen on my farm when I learned an important lesson about business.
After cutting up the trees I had two large brush piles burning and noticed a large hawk was sitting on the ground between the piles. He then perched in a nearby tree, watching the piles intently. “What is that hawk doing?” I asked myself. It was then that I realized how smart he was. The hawk knew that the brush piles were full of mice and rats. He also knew the fire would drive them out, and he was going to take advantage of an incredible opportunity to pick them off one by one as they ran out of the pile. The hawk saw what other animals couldn’t see.
In business, I don’t like to take advantage of people, but I do like to take advantages of opportunities.
A friend of mine recently re-opened the historic West Cinema in downtown Cedartown. Opened in 1941, the movie theater originally only had one screen. New owners added a second screen in the1980s, and it may have seemed that the old building had reached its capacity. However, when Michael Tinney purchased the theater last year, he had a vision to grow the business by increasing the number of screens (and potential for revenue) in the same square footage.
“I see a really good opportunity there for the business to grow and prosper,” Mike told the Polk County Standard Journal. “I see a landmark in Cedartown, and I see how I can improve it and make it better.” He added that “it is more about love of the community than it is just a business.”
The original theater’s balcony had been closed off years ago, so Mike re-opened this space and turned it into VIP seating with leather recliners. This enabled him to increase the number of seats in each theater, but he didn’t stop there. Mike took a large storage room and turned it into two smaller theaters with 30 seats each. He is now able to show four movies at a time, and utilize these smaller theaters for movies that are less popular but still have an audience.
Mike re-opened the theater with Family Nights once a week, featuring clean films appropriate for all audiences at a discounted price. He took what was once an unnecessary storage room and used it to double the size of his business and create new entertainment opportunities for families in Polk County.
Like the hawk, entrepreneurs are able to see things that others cannot see. They are able to take advantage of opportunities that may otherwise go unnoticed. One entrepreneur was able to double the size of West Cinema in the 1980s, and another was able to do the same in 2018.
If you want to be successful as an entrepreneur (or a leader), one of the first steps is to develop your ability to see what others cannot see. When you encounter a challenge that would cause most people to give up, begin looking for the hidden opportunities. This is what Mike did, and as a result he has not only built a viable business, he has brought back a local treasure to our community.