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Cartoon: Eat This!

Cartoon: Eat This!

September 29, 2011

Alligators can eat just about anything. And they do'

They've been known to eat a poodle or two, deer, plastic toys, golf balls and even a few pairs of sandals. If they have an opportunity to chomp on something they'll jump at it.

As business leaders we do the same thing. I'm guilty of it too. We may not be chomping down on our neighbor's poodle but if we see an opportunity, we want to jump at it.

We're like the kids in the Money Machine booths at the carnival jumping at the dollars bills and paper flying around them as a fan blows air inside. They want the $20 bill or $10 bill flying around them but mostly they're grabbing nothing but air.

It's no different for the thousands of business owners we work with regularly. They love the idea of chasing a new opportunity. It's exciting. It's energizing. We all get that. But we all realize that we can't chase after every new opportunity. So here's the question:
How do you decide which opportunities to pursue?

I'll give you the answer. Plus, I'll give you a proven tool that's worked time and time again to help you.

First, let me tell you about a client who came into our office recently who agreed to let me tell you his story. This is their second round with us. Their first round in their previous company increased its profits 20% to about $4.2 million so they came back for more when it was time to launch a new brand. But don't get confused.

This model of decision making applies to day to day decisions, strategic initiatives and launching a new product. As the owner of a new company, he and his team had been talking for months about what business they wanted to be in. They came up with a list of 6 different opportunities. Six! And each one could be a very profitable and sustainable company.

But it would be impossible to work on more than any one of them at one time. They realized that too but they couldn't agree on which ONE that would be.

As we worked with them, we narrowed the list down to the top 3 and in just a few hours we focused them on just one ' one service they can pursue that will make them tens of thousands of dollars in just a few months and hundreds of thousands of dollars in just over a year! They had been trying to figure this out for months. But we were able to come to a very exciting solution in just a few hours!!

How? Using a tool we've developed we were able to determine the SINGLE, BEST opportunity to pursue.

"For something to live, something else must die."

The secret is in the 10 criteria we've created that are most important to any business or organization. Based on our experience working with more than one thousand businesses over the last two decades we've found that these 10 criteria are critical when figuring out whether an opportunity will be a winner or a loser.

I'll share them with you as part of our Opportunity Launcher that you can also use in just a moment.

The client's story is not that unusual. Every day, smart, creative entrepreneurs are coming up with new ideas and are presented with new opportunities. For most people, new ideas aren't the problem. They're always coming up with them.
The real challenge is knowing which ones to say, 'No!'

We live in an ADD world. New opportunities come up every day! It's hard enough pushing one ball up a hill, right? But as you add more opportunities you add more balls. Soon enough, you're trying to push 5, 6 or 7 balls up a hill. It's impossible! One slips by and then you have to try and recover. Then another slips by and another ' you get the idea.

That's nuts! But that's what usually happens when you don't have a logical, systematic process for evaluating the opportunities. Like I said, we're guilty of chasing too many balls too! And in just about any game, you can only win by getting ONE ball over the goal line.

In fact, this tool I'm about to share is the same tool we use regularly at Brand Launcher and with our clients to help them evaluate the opportunities. For most good entrepreneurs the issue isn't not enough opportunity, it's too many opportunities. I've always found that for something to live, something else must die.

And if you have clear, objective criteria you can turn the process into a much more objective evaluation so you can determine what will live ' and what will die. Using the Opportunity Launcher, we evaluate each one of the 10 criteria that work in just about any business or organization and assign a score to them on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 means we're very weak in that area and 10 means we're very strong.

For example, #5 among the top 10 criteria on the Opportunity Launcher is Core Competency so you should ask yourself: Does the opportunity play to our skills, knowledge and talents? In the case of the client we met with recently, one of their core competencies is teaching others how to negotiate. The owner of the company is one of the foremost experts within his industry so under the opportunity, 'hosting seminars,' we scored that criteria a 10.

This exercise was an eye-opener for me not too long ago. For many years one of the companies I own produces great results and is terrific. But it's not our PRIMARY focus.

Why? Because I realized that although it was a great opportunity I only gave it a 3 in terms of core competency. We're much more passionate and talented at helping people develop the business and personal strategies as well as the marketing strategies to grow their businesses. That was exciting! Because that realization helped focus on growing Brand Launcher as a result which has had double and in some areas triple digit growth.

Critical questions to ask as you decide what will live -- and what will die.

Here are just a few of the crucial questions you must ask when you evaluate your opportunities: (the whole tool is available here)

  • SPEED: How quickly can you act? Can you gain an edge by moving more quickly than your competitors?
  • EASE: How easy will it be for you to capitalize on the opportunity?
  • ROI: Of course, you always want to look at whether the opportunity will be profitable but you should also consider whether it will deliver a short-time ROI, long-term ROI or both?
  • JOY: Will you enjoy pursuing the opportunity or will it just mean more work?
  • CLEAR HUNGY FISH: Do you have clearly, identifiable market? For example, if you're in the flooring business and you feel your hungry fish are recently divorced men who only want high-end hardwood floors that would be a very difficult market to target. There are no readily available lists you can rent and finding them would be a major challenge.
  • RESONANCE: Do you resonate with the market? In other words, do you understand what makes your hungry fish frustrated? Do you understand the things that make them happy? Do you understand their language? Do you identify with them?
  • REFERABILITY: Can you get referrals? Will your customers endorse you and give you testimonials about how happy they are with your product or service? Can you get well-known and well-respected clients to refer you to others just like them?
  • CONSISTENT SUCCESS: Can you deliver consistent success? For example, as we developed the Brand Launcher business we sold hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of manuals, books and reports to help business owners and managers increase sales and improve their profit margins. But most of them just sat on a shelf collecting dust! We scored that criteria a 2 and realized that we needed to offer more coaching and mentoring if we wanted to deliver consistent success.

 

As you can see, the process is extremely powerful. Going through it can be a roller coaster, however. It's frustrating and it challenges your assumptions but it can also be exciting and energizing because it gets you focused!

You're not done yet!

For your FREE copy of the Opportunity Launcher, click on the image to download it immediately.

Don't stop there. Once you've determined which opportunity to pursue then you have to figure out next steps by asking these 5 critical questions:

1. Who will do what?
2. How will it get done?
3. How much will it cost?
4. When will each step be completed?
5. How will we measure our progress?

To download your complimentary copy of the Opportunity Launcher and to start putting these ideas to work for you GO HERE. We are going to be taking this down as it's only available for a limited time. And if you would like some help getting clear on your best opportunities, one of our mentors would be glad to help ' it's what we do best ;)

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,

Jon

Jon Goldman, President