Every business needs to be able to take advantage of any good opportunities that appear – but how do you recognise one in time to do anything about it?
You are equipped with a system that filters out extraneous information, allowing you to concentrate on the important stuff. Look up ‘Reticular Activation System’ (RAS) if you would like more information. The relevance for this topic is that often we filter out things we really wanted to know about – have you even made a major purchase, thinking at that time that this is an attractive and unusual item only to see several on the way home immediately after the purchase?
If so then you have experienced your RAS suddenly allowing sightings of that item through the filter. Obviously they were around before you bought one, you just were not aware of them.
That helps us today because the first step to recognising an opportunity is to make sure that the information is not filtered out by your RAS. You achieve this by making sure that you have a list of your goals and by reviewing them on a daily basis. If you do that correctly then anything relating to your goals will make it through the filter and you will at least become aware of it.
Then the real business of spotting the opportunity starts! You should develop your own list of questions, so what follows is an example to get you going.
First, ask “What” – What can this new opportunity do? What can it be used for? What caused it? What can be done to improve it? These questions will help you start identifying the basic opportunity.
Next, ask “Who” – Who would benefit from this? Who might help you develop the idea further? Who do you need on your team? Most opportunities need more than a single person to implement.
Then as “Where” – Where will this be best received? Where would it makes sense to place the factory, the sales centre and the remainder of your ‘location infrastructure’? Bear in mind that ‘location’ includes the real world and the internet.
Now consider “When” – Is there a limited window of opportunity to sell this? How long will it take to get to market? It might be a good idea but if you can’t get it to market in time then you would be better off putting your efforts into something else.
Finally, consider “How” – How will you source the raw materials? How will you deliver the goods or service? Which payment methods will you accept? How will you reward those who assist you? There are probably more ‘how’ questions than any of the other sections, and every new opportunity will have its own unique list.
A little practice will enable you to see and react to opportunities in record time. Don’t be discouraged if you discover that you missed an opportunity – instead figure out why you missed it and what you can do so that in future you will be able to see those kinds of opportunities in time to do something about it.
I hope this helps, it can’t be the exact list you need for a specific opportunity, though if you’d like some help then please get in touch. These ideas are intended to give you the background that you need to be able to build your own list of questions, and to develop your own habits that will enable you to identify every opportunity in a timely manner.
Has this helped? Do you have any other ideas that others would benefit from? Leave a comment and let us know!
What follows is a story that you will be asked to finish. We present the characters and the final scene is set – but – how does it end? That’s what you tell me!
Here is the story. An old farmer has borrowed a lot of money from an unscrupulous money lender, and has been unable to repay the debt. The farmer has an attractive daughter, and the money lender wants her hand in marriage – so far neither the farmer nor the daughter are willing to agree.
The money lender suggests that they let ‘chance’ determine the outcome. He will place two pebbles in a sack –one white, one black – and the daughter picks one without looking.
If she picks the white one then her father’s debt will be eliminated and she will not have to marry him. If she selects the black one then again the father’s debt will disappear, though this time she will have to agree to marry the money lender. If she refuses to select a pebble then the money lender will exercise his rights under law, and her father will be imprisoned for not paying his debts.
They have no real choice, so they agree. The path outside the farmer’s house is covered in pebbles, so the money lender bends down and picks up two, and places them in the bag. The daughter notices that he has picked up two black pebbles!
You are now going to finish this little story – if you were the daughter, what would you do? You can’t not pick a pebble from the bag, and yet you know that there are only black pebbles in the bag – there seems to be only one possible outcome!
Leave your ending in a comment, and next week I’ll give you the answer my wife gave when she first heard the story. (And to be fair, you only have the same 2 seconds to think that she needed!)