Let’s be honest here: Being in the business world is tough. If you aren’t at the top of your game you lose out to your competition and you lose money.

But there’s a reason why millions of people quit their jobs to become businesspeople, because it is profitable, it is fun and every drop of effort that you put in directly benefits you; unlike in the corporate world where extra effort just means that you’re making someone else richer.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, you must realize that persistence is key. It means not giving up just because there is competition. And it means changing the way you see the world. If there is a problem, it is just an opportunity to solve the problem and make money by doing so.

But how do you win when the odds are against you? How do you conquer a saturated market?

Let’s look at the story of two fishermen.

Meet Azlan. Azlan grew up in a fishing village. Life was difficult as a fisherman because almost everyone was a fisherman there, which meant he couldn’t sell his fish for a higher price. He realized that he would continue to be a poor fisherman at this rate and he wouldn’t be able to support his family. So what did he do? Did he give up? Did he just accept things as it is? No. He made a bank loan to upgrade his boat. With a better boat that can store more fuel, Azlan is now able to fish for longer hours and bring his boat further into the ocean where there are larger fish. This means that he is catching more fish every day and he is getting larger fish that restaurants love to buy. In a competitive market, he managed to find an advantage.

Meet Azlan’s childhood friend, Adam. Adam knew that being a fisherman was tough; he has followed his dad on fishing trips hundreds of times. He notices that the fish sold in the pasar pagi were much more expensive and not as fresh, since the pasar pagi people sell fish a few hours after the fish get caught. So he realized that there was an opportunity. So he set up a delivery system where he could sell fish at a lower price than the pasar pagi sellers and guarantee the freshest fish to his customers. The restaurants and the mak ciks in town loved his personalized delivery service.

Azlan’s story is the tale of the red ocean. Red oceans are all the industries in existence today – the known market space, where industry boundaries are defined and companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of the existing market. Cutthroat competition turns the ocean bloody red. Hence, the term ‘red’ oceans. You have to compete in existing market spaces, beat the competition, exploit existing demand, and make the value-cost trade-off.

Adam’s story is quest to find the blue ocean. Blue oceans denote all the industries not in existence today – the unknown market space, unexplored and untainted by competition. Like the ‘blue’ ocean, it is vast, deep and powerful –in terms of opportunity and profitable growth. It aims to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant.

What you can learn from Azlan of the Red Ocean and Adam of the Blue Ocean is that a saturated market means nothing for a determined entrepreneur. Even in tough markets it is always possible to edge out the competition and gain the upper hand.

If you are interested in joining a business but you are not sure you can succeed, observe established businesses and understand their business model. Talk to customers to figure out what is missing and where can the established businesses do better. And maybe try working for an established business for a few months just to understand how things work. This is how you gain the knowledge needed to succeed.

“Ideas are cheap, execution is everything”

In the end, it all boils down to this: Your willingness to work hard and persevere. In the start-up world, there are millions of ideas (many of them brilliant) that remain just ideas. Many gave up halfway and many others never even started. Why did they fail? Because they had an idea but they did not persevere. Because they had a dream but they didn’t have the iron will to pursue it.

Trust yourself and don’t be afraid.

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