The opportunity of a lifetime can only be captured during the lifetime of the opportunity. That idea is so important that the Greeks found it wise to have a god for opportunities. Caerus (or Kairos), the god of seasons and opportunities is portrayed to be always on the move. He is also depicted with only one lock of hair flowing down the front of his face. This will give you a chance to grab hold of him. But if you fail to do so, not even Zeus can force him to return. We will all have missed opportunities in our belt. Below are some businesses who missed catching Caerus’ lock and they lost big time:

Phone call answered 2 years too late

In 1876, Western Union (WU) boasted of the telegraph that is the most advanced communication technology that is accessible during their time. William Orton, the president of WU, was asked to patent the telephone for $100,00 (roughly $2 million right now). He didn’t only reject it; he dismissed it completely and tried to convince Bell that it had no commercial possibilities. So Bell patented it under his name. Two years later, the telephone took off, and Orton spent the rest of his life trying to challenge Bell’s patents. All of them ended up a failure.

The Beatles Rejected

The Beatles auditioned for Decca Records before they were famous. The person in charge of talent said their sound was no good and he signed a local act from London instead. Meanwhile, the Beatles were signed by Brian Epstein and went on to become a global phenomenon that has changed the landscape of music history.

Motoro-duh?

Motorola used to be on top in the cell phone business with their Razr. Directly competing with Nokia, and Sony Ericsson for market dominance. However, they waited a little too long to release their version of the smartphone that gave away their market share to Apple. How? Instead of focusing on customer experiences they focused on the aesthetics. As a result, shares fell by 90% between October 2006 and March 2009. This translated to company losses of over $4.3bn and by January 2011, “Hello Moto” had become “Goodbye Motorola.”

In a Galaxy Far Far Away, A Fox got Greedy

20th Century Fox got George Lucas to take a pay cut of $20,000 in exchange for all of the merchandising rights to Star Wars, and all of the sequels thereafter. It was their biggest mistake. Star Wars has grown into the most iconic film franchise ever. Episodes 4 to 6 grossed billions not to mention merchandise sales, licenses, video games, etc. have earned billions more. For the sake of twenty grand, Fox missed out on a commercial phenomenon. I’m sure the executive who brokered that deal made it the biggest blunder of his career.

What is a common thread in all of these stories? Those who lost the opportunities played it safe. Some got greedy. Some got too comfortable with the market position. These things got in the way of their professional and personal success. Don’t let it happen to your business.