skip to main content


“If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.”

Tom Peters


According to the English Oxford Living Dictionaries, opportunism is:

The taking of opportunities as and when they arise, regardless of planning or principle.

Opportunism in Today’s Culture

In our current culture, when we say that somebody is an opportunist, we are often guilty of criticizing them.

Specifically, we are criticizing them for exploiting a situation to gain money or power. In that scenario, that person, as an opportunist, does not think about whether their actions are right or wrong.  Even if they are aware that their actions might be wrong, opportunists do not care.

Opportunism is the practice of taking advantage of opportunities as and when they arise.

Opportunism in today’s culture is seen as exploiting circumstances purely for self-interest. The opportunist is thought to have no regard for other people’s interests or moral principles. In other words, what they do is exploitative, selfish, inconsiderate, and unprincipled.

These opportunists lack ethics, which are are the moral principles that govern how we behave at work and in our everyday lives.

People who ‘feather their nests’ or ‘line their pockets’ are opportunists. They are selfish, greedy, and inconsiderate.

Strategic Opportunism

Strategic opportunism is a business term. Business leaders and entrepreneurs need to push back against culture’s idea of opportunism and see the value in strategic opportunism.

Strategic opportunism is not derogatory—in fact, it is a quality that all successful business people have.

Strategic opportunism is the ability to focus on long-term objectives while remaining flexible enough to solve day-to-day problems. It is the ability to recognize new opportunities and see how they fit into a business’s strategic plan.

Daniel Isenberg writes in the Harvard Business Review that effective managers are good strategic opportunists.

Isenberg says.

“They consistently employ certain habits – ways of searching for and processing information and ways of acting on ideas – that help them bridge the gap between short-term demands and long-term direction.”

If you practice strategic opportunism, you respond to today’s needs, yet your response and focus do not preclude tomorrow’s visions.

Take Advantage of Opportunities

As a business leader and entrepreneur, it’s vital to your success to “take advantage” in a positive way of business opportunities that come your way.

  1. Ride the wave of a challenger.

Many small companies ride on the coattails of other companies as a way to grow quickly and successfully. An example would be Roku, whose sales doubled when Apple TV launched.

  1. Turn big setbacks into big wins.

Significant opportunities exist even in the midst of challenges from competitors, regulations, or new market entries. Don’t just give up, keep looking for the silver lining.

  1. Turn down opportunities that don’t match your strengths.

Growth happens when a company emphasizes its strengths and skips opportunities that exploit their weaknesses.

  1. Always weigh the risks.

Every opportunity has an associated risk—it might stretch your staff or your financial resources—but any new partnership, product, or even a big sales opportunity can cause stress on operations and your customer service.

The Bible

Galatians 6:10 says.

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Opportunities present themselves for a reason.  They are our chances to make a difference—a difference in our business, for our customers and employees, and our communities.

            Business leaders need to be aware of opportunities.  It is our duty to take advantage of them so that we can “do good to everyone.”