How do you spot opportunities? How do you decide which ones to take and which ones to put to one side? Do you struggle with feeling like there are too many opportunities, or too few?
I’ve been thinking about opportunity a lot recently. It seems like it’s a big theme for me, in my business, and for my clients.
In my experience, there are people who tend to see lots of opportunities wherever they are – things that could be done better, new ideas to try, new ways of saying something, a market need or solution to a problem. I’d count myself in that category of people. It just seems to come naturally to me to visualise how something could work. It’s a combination of optimism, idealism, and experiencing things that have worked.
From that point of constantly seeing opportunity, there’s a downward scale to not being able to see opportunity as easily. Sometimes, that’s a result of genetic predisposition, or having been around people who have the gift of opportunity-seeking.
Sometimes, our ability to see opportunity is foggy because we’re in the thick of it – taken over by day to day worries, tasks and to do lists. I know this to be true, especially after running the Small Creative Business Retreat in March, when a weekend of rest, no orders, and no chores allowed my guests to see things more clearly, to see the opportunities in from of them.
So, to see opportunity (before we even think about acting on them), we need to have the mental-emotional capacity and headspace to see them, as well as some experience of using our vision.
And then there’s deciding which opportunities to invest in. This is trickier territory. I’m pretty sure I could teach anyone to see opportunity, given enough time and resources. But deciding which ones to take up? If anyone had a hard-and-fast rule to figuring that out, I’m sure they’d be a millionaire.
Recently, I’ve found that opportunity has come knockin’, as well as the dozen or so ideas and projects I have on a list waiting to be given some attention. It is incredibly difficult to put them to one side! And how do you even decide which ones to push forward?
Here’s the thing:
I thought I’d share my personal opportunity evaluation process, and a bit about my recent decision not to take on any new clients.
- What are my overarching business/personal goals and intentions? This is a biggie, but if you haven’t already put in the time to ask yourself this question, spend even half an hour to think about it. Sounds like too little time, but honestly, if you’re really focused on what you want, it’s plenty! Once you’ve got an idea of what this looks like, make sure you have it written down somewhere you can look at it when you need a reminder.
- Which opportunities are getting me closer to what I really want to do? Let’s make a move on them.
- Are there any quick wins? If there’s anything that requires relatively little effort for a good outcome, I might pop these up the list, but it REALLY depends on what else is going on. When I’m busy, very few things like this move up the list, because I have very little energy/time to spare.
- What isn’t time-sensitive? There are PLENTY (think giant notebook full of ideas) of things that I know I’d like to do one day. I don’t have to do them now. There isn’t much lost if someone else does something similar – I’m going to do it my way anyway. So the pressure comes down.
- Is there anything I can pass along to anyone else? Sometimes, there are are real opportunities that I can see are going to make someone some money or benefit them in another way. Rather than squeeze myself into every possible shape, I try to share them with people who may be able to make more of them than I can. Sometimes, it’s passing on a product idea to a client. Sometimes, it’s referring a potential client to someone with different experience.
They’re just five pointers I use to figure out my opportunity list. It’s then the art of saying ‘no’, even if I’d love to say yes.
Recently, this has been my big challenge. I’ve been run down by too much going on, too many clients, and I’ve had to cut down on taking new clients on. It’s a big deal, even if I feel relatively confident in it now. There’s always the scared part of me that thinks I should say yes to everything – but I’m not letting that part of me run the show.
I hope you’re able to see opportunities a little clearer with these ideas. It’s all a practice. The more you allow yourself to find opportunities, the more you’ll see them in unexpected places. And the better you get at saying no, the easier it will become.
But don’t forget to say yes sometimes, too.