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

Role of Banking and Financial Institutions in Business Development

Opening a business or a firm is an exciting challenge, but what really gives pain is doldrums of economic strings. It is the basic factor behind the role of a business in its realm. Financial crunch is the most unpredictable situation and when occurs gives a powerful whiplash. Only those businesses or organizations survive that have an experienced banking or finance partner. Such partners can help in running a newly emerging or established business.

The fact is that most successful organizations are the ones most responsive to change. When it comes to changes only those businesses change that have effective team, efficient management, solid reserves and surpluses. Responding to evolving markets, customers and new protocols is very difficult unless you have your banking partner with you. Unquestionably, banking and financial institutions help businesses to think ahead to the wide array of innumerable opportunities to explore. They help businesses at every step and provide the most vital things like commercial loans, commercial overdraft, equipment finance and business insurance. These are some of the most crucial things that help businesses to boast its banner at the worst case situations.

Commercial loans are the most important factors for businesses. Businesses always look to buy commercial premises for their expansion. For this, they need instant balance, which only a reputable banking organization can offer at the most basic rates. They also offer their clients to choose between variable or fixed interest rates for their benefit. Banking authorities are also involved in the fair assessment of business assets and their financial proposals. This simply helps businesses to grow and expand their market value with more aggressive measures.

Businesses often need equipment finance that are very expensive and can consume complete surplus of the company. Banking technology along with financial institutions extends their assistance in purchasing or leasing equipment, whatever is necessary. Banks also discuss this thing with company’s advisory board to choose the best equipment as per their requirements. Banks also have instruments and products that specially SMEs and small organizations to grow and develop their core capabilities. They have various micro finance instruments that simply help SMEs to grow strong and independent.

In a nutshell, banking and financial institutions are developing new instruments and products to offer immunity to the businesses so that crisis never breaks their necks. They also ensure that businesses never face shortage of cash supply. This has dramatically changed the face of business scenario and boasted trade finance.

The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility in Modern Business Development

There are many factors within general business practices that are altering to ensure that every person benefits from the continued functioning of the company. Previously many businesses have subscribed to practices that may have had negative effects on their stakeholders. This is now changing as the realisation sets in of the true importance of the different stakeholders in any particular business. There are many different manners in which a company can implement corporate social responsibility measures for the benefit of all concerned. The manner in which each different company implements the changes will be dependent on what aspects of the company could be considered as having produced negative effects.

Corporate Social responsibility can often be confused with corporate charity, but it is a very different thing. Corporate charity can involve the donation of money and the provision of opportunities to members of the community and stakeholders. This is very different to the considerations that a company must abide by to ensure that their actions fall with the acceptable corporate social responsibility guidelines that have been established. These can include guidelines that relate to the environmental impact that a particular action can have or they can relate to the impact that an action can have on the local community. The guidelines are intended to ensure that any negative effects that an action could possibly have are eliminated or reduced as far as possible.

The concept of corporate social responsibility is intended to provide each business with a far greater ability to create sustainable development. This can help to provide ongoing benefits for the business and its stakeholders, regardless of the size of the business. The business can become more competitive once it begins to create and follow guidelines to enforce the concept of corporate social responsibility within the company and its surrounding community. The greater the sustainability of a business’s developments, the more successful it can become. The attraction of corporate social responsibility for many businesses is that it can help to increase sustainability without creating negative effects.

The type of business that implements changes to come in line with accepted corporate social responsibility guidelines will also determine what sort of changes will need to be made. The size of the investment that will be required to ensure that the business conforms to acceptable guidelines will also be affected by the type of business it is. The resources that are expended for this purpose do need to be viewed as an investment rather than an unnecessary expense since the positive results can more than repay the investment.

The term corporate social responsibility may seem to be one of the current buzz words in business, but the concept is one that has been formulated by many people over many years. The concept is one that is seen as being important for the continued well-being of the vast majority of companies and essential for the community that surrounds them. The importance that is placed on business actions conforming to acceptable corporate social responsibility standards can ensure that these guidelines are treated with the respect that they merit.

Six Challenges Facing Business Owners

Having spent the last few weeks meeting with and chatting to small business owners around Essex, it became clear that they all seem to face similar challenges on a day-to-day basis.

As I expected, they are all time poor and there was an ongoing sense from these company owners or directors that they should be ‘hands on’ and across every facet of their business. But, as they told me, they may know all about their business but sometimes they need expert support and guidance to ensure their company grows and increases profitability.

Some of the challenges they faced included:

Customers
Customers are at the heart of any business. Without customers and the revenue generated then the business becomes just a good idea. One of the main challenges they faced was how to attract, retain and maximise their customers?

For me, the key to winning new business and ensuring customer retention is providing not only great products or services but adding a great customer service experience. A strategy needs to be developed for ensuring this customer growth and maximizing revenues from existing customers.

Marketing
Many business owners are not marketing experts and need strategic advice when it comes to developing a business positioning, a marketing plan, a campaign and thinking about the channels they wish to promote their business through.

The challenge is to enable the business to tell its story in a way that enables the business to grow and build customer engagement. Bringing an experienced marketer into the business either in-house or as a consultant to help develop this strategy can allow the business owner to focus on what he does best.

Time
For many business owners there are simply not enough hours in a day. All owners are stretched for time. Creating more time means sometimes saying no and focussing on what is essential for the success of the business.

This is where business owner often seek external advice from a business mentor or consultant to get them to focus on what is critical for the development of the business.

Financial Management
It is imperative for a small or medium-sized business to manage their cashflow effectively but sometimes managing the P&L seemed to be the third or fourth ‘order of the day’ for some business owners.

Getting good financial advice from a consultant who takes the time to analyse business performance, looks at aged debtors, analyses client profitability and puts effective financial planning measures in place mitigates the risk of the business getting into financial troubles.

Profitability
Business Planning seemed to be a bit of an afterthought for some of the business owners I spoke with, they were working more ‘on the fly’. Annual Planning should start a minimum of four months before the end of the financial year and should start with a formal annual budget, understanding the profitability of each client/customer, growth opportunities, business development planning and an analysis of the overheads required to service those clients/customers, market and grow the business, generate a great customer experience as well as delivering a sustainable profit margin.

Successful business owners create wealth and grow their business because they understand how to build a culture where sustainable profitability is a given.

Processes
Many business owners are not across all the processes involved in running a business so the challenge is to make the processes involved in running a business simpler. This is where an external consultant or expert support can prove highly beneficial.

Failure to manage processes such as sales, marketing, business development, building customer loyalty, operational management, HR and employee development can lead to businesses failing. Being stretched across business functions is not the best way for business owners to develop their business.