Nine years ago, I traveled to Sweden to see some old Wickman multi-spindle screw machines for sale at one of the country’s largest automotive suppliers. The machines were ok, but we decided not to buy them.
I stayed the night in the sleepy town of Värnamo, a screw machining hotspot of Sweden. The next morning, I knocked on a few doors of screw machining companies in the area, asking if they had any used machines for sale. They usually gave me the time of day because I had come from so far. A company called Ezze turned out to have two Schutte SF42s from the 1980s it wanted to sell, which at the time, were still pretty desirable machines. We quickly bought them and then flipped them to a dealer in England for a good score. Did I get lucky? Was it serendipity? Yes. But I created the serendipity.
A few weeks ago, I interviewed Jay Jacobs for Swarfcast (He also interviewed me on an upcoming episode of his podcast, the Job Shop Show). Jay is an extremely successful entrepreneur and cofounder of Paperless Parts, a cloud based estimating and quoting software platform.
In the interview, Jay told me that one of the keys to his success in business is what he calls “Be First.” He feels so strongly about the philosophy that he put it on one of his license plates.
“Be First” means when you see a potential opportunity you go for it without hesitating. When you see even the possibility of an opportunity that could help your business or personal life, don’t hesitate to investigate it or try it. If you see a person at a conference who might be important to talk to, don’t “wait for the right time.” The right time is now. If you have an idea for an innovation at your company, see a potentially interesting person to hire, a new technique to try, don’t stop yourself—BE FIRST.