Developing the Right Opportunities

Not all of the questions you ask will have answers. For certain questions, you might get answers that do not excite you at all. However, some of the questions you ask will have answers that tell you that there might be a possibility for an opportunity to develop.

You note that I use the words “might” and “possibility” here. For an opportunity to exist, we should be able to combine four elements. Without all four, we have only a possibility, nothing more. However, as you get used to viewing the world from four different angles, you will very quickly start to think of all four elements automatically.

It is when you get to that point, that opportunities will just start “popping into your head”. It is crucial that you take notes when an answer excites you. Right at that moment, you might think that you will not forget it, but we all forget things, even very important things. Make notes of your thoughts and include any thoughts that you might have about the other three elements. Give your possible opportunity a name, as by doing this you give the opportunity a mental anchor and summarise it to its essence. You will remember it better, and your subconscious mind will work harder to expand it from the essence of the possibility, to a more complete vision of the opportunity.

During the course of the day, use any spare time you might have, to look at your card and ask questions. While travelling in your car (record your thoughts rather than writing them down!), in the elevator and on the escalator, while having a cup of coffee in the canteen. When you are doing things that do not require you to think, use that time to search for opportunities and do that by questioning the whole world around you. Yes, even when you have to go to the bathroom! And remember to jot down all the thoughts you experienced when you get answers that excited you.

Dedicate time; 15 minutes per day should do it, to reflect on your findings and what possible opportunities might arise from it. Think about each of them, and jot down any additional thoughts you might have.

Try and find the “missing three” elements for each answer that you get when asking the questions. A very simple matrix will assist you in trying to find the missing elements – turning them into opportunities for yourself.

You will start off with something like this:

Date: 04 Feb ’08
Needs: Computer keyboards, screens and mouse pads need cleaning
Means:?
Method to apply:?
Method to benefit:?
Potential:?
Notes: Saw Johnny’s workstation today – looks terrible!

Date: 05 Feb ’08
Needs: ?
Means: Old tires
Method to apply: ?
Method to benefit: ?
Potential: ?
Notes: Saw a whole heap of old tires at the scrap yard.

Date: 06 Feb ’08
Needs: ?
Means: ?
Method to apply: Carwash used to wash cars.
Method to benefit: ?
Potential: ?
Notes: Drove past carwash and saw how it applied water, soap and mechanical action to wash car.

After a while, when reviewing these entries, you might progress to:

Date: 04 Feb ’08

Needs: Computer keyboards, screens and mouse pads needs cleaning.
Means: PC cleaning box with solvent, glass cloth, water and drying chamois.
Method to apply: Provide PC cleaner with box and let him/her clean all PC user’s computers.
Method to benefit: Start PC cleaning services and get big business to contract. R15 per PC per month?
Potential: Yes! There are 6 buildings in our area, each with more than a 1000 PC’s.
That means R90 000 per month!
Notes: Saw Johnny’s workstation today – looks terrible – some keyboard keys seem sticky.

Date: 05 Feb ’08
Needs: Mine dumps need stabilization to prevent erosion and pollution.
Means: Old tires.
Method to apply: ?
Method to benefit: Set up “mine dump” stabilization business to sell service.
Potential: ?
Notes: Saw a whole heap of old tires at the scrap yard. Scrap yard will pay me to remove their old tires. Find out what mines would pay to stabilize mine dumps.

Date: 06 Feb ’08
Needs: How do fleet owners wash their large trucks?
Means: ?
Method to apply: Carwash used to wash cars.
Method to benefit: ?
Potential: ?
Notes: Drove past carwash and saw how it applied water, soap and mechanical action to wash cars.

Flag all the possible opportunities which you feel comfortable with that might turn into real opportunities. There are a number of ways in which you might like to prioritise the possible opportunities. In the above example, an overall “Potential” was used to prioritise. You might use various prioritising methods such as “Ease of implementation”, “Require least capital outlay” or even:”I like this opportunity (scale of 1 to 5)”. You decide how you would like to prioritise the opportunities. The method of prioritisation is far less important than the fact that you do prioritise and feel comfortable with how you prioritise.

As your opportunities develop over time, you will quickly realise that opportunities are very abundant to those looking for them. But opportunities alone are not enough! We have to do something with the opportunities.

In the next chapter, we will look at a terrific tool that will help you turn your opportunities into complete and compelling business visions – to get the most from your opportunities.

To find opportunities – look for alternatives, no matter how satisfied you are with a situation. Everything can be improved. Every improvement is an opportunity.

Chapter reminders:

1. Every opportunity has 4 elements:
-Needs
-Means to fulfill the need
-Method to apply the means to fulfill the need
-Method for you to benefit.

2. Get into the habit of looking at things from different angles – each angle one of the elements of an opportunity.

3. Develop opportunities by filling in the blanks!

4. Prioritise the opportunities