What is your attitude to an opportunity?

Entrepreneurs are supposedly able to spot opportunities and then to exploit them. But sometimes opportunities are presented to you on a plate, whether you are entrepreneurial or not.

For example, a customer comes to you and says “I want your Product X, but I would like it bigger/smaller, in a different colour, packaged in a different way……. oh, and I want to pay the same price as if I bought the plain vanilla Product X.” You have the opportunity to: earn money; get a new customer who may tell others about you; do something new and interesting, and so get some more job satisfaction; get paid to develop a ‘new’ product that increases your range of products on offer and that might be sold to others.

For some people however, such an opportunity causes stress. The stress of entering into new waters, of the unknown, of moving out of your comfort zone. The stress of having to learn so as to make the changes. The stress from sensing there are risks, perhaps a downside like wasted time and loss of income if the customer eventually turns round and says no, or if the new product doesn’t work, or if the costs of the new product are too high. The stress of having to reorganise ‘normal’ life to accommodate the extra work.

In large companies, there may well be a team of people or a system that helps organise the process of dealing with new opportunities. There will be risk analysis and cost analysis tools, there will other people to discuss your questions and doubts with, there will be more flexibility in budget allocation, and in some highly innovative companies risk-taking is actively encouraged. But in a small business it usually comes down to the experience and gut feeling of the owner or key decision maker. So here is a simple checklist for you to help with decisions about new opportunities that land on your plate:

  1. Does it fit more or less with my overall business model and goals?
  2. Can it be profitable, if not in the short term then certainly at some point in the medium future?
  3. If we go with the opportunity, does it open up further profitable opportunities? Or might it actually close off opportunities?
  4. Do we have the capability to deliver a development project, the people, the knowledge, the experience from solving the sort of problems any new project brings, the time, the spare capacity, the upfront money and the cash flow?
  5. What do we have to give up to do this project?
  6. What can go wrong? What are the consequences if it goes wrong?
  7. Can we control the project? Or will the project end up driving us?



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