The noise of opportunity

Everywhere you go you’re faced with nearly infinite choices and opportunities. Whether feature creep on your products or product creep where you try to be all things to all people. Someone, maybe you, has a new idea that seems like the next big thing. FOMO makes you want to pursue it. After all, what if your competitors beat you to it? 

It’s especially important to stay focused when your business is just starting out. Too many choices requiring customers to do too much research slows the decision making. It may even cause a prospect to never choose or go elsewhere.

Simplicity is elegant. But hard. Complexity is easy. You can always add more. It’s hard to subtract. Even harder in large organizations where many different departments may want their stamp on a product. To appease, excess features get added in. Even if it seems like an easy add, it may not make sense for your business.

How do you sift through the noise to only pursue the opportunities that are going to have the most impact? 

It starts with focus on a clear brand strategy. Is yours a map for growing your business? Is it designed customer first rather than you first?

Do you know what pain points this opportunity or thing is solving for your customers? Do you know if your solving the right problem? If not, find out. You might here a customer crying out for this new feature. And maybe they’re the squeaky wheel making loud noises. It may seem obvious but make sure enough customers also have this problem and that they’re willing to pay for your solution. 

Next, will the opportunity add 10x value you to your customers and 10x revenue to your company? Incremental changes, unless they’re fixing something that’s broken aren’t likely game changers. The little things matter in terms of execution. But simplicity rules.

Will this take you away from your core, deliver short-term gains but long-term pains? Will it cause other areas of your business to suffer? Or will it enhance the business you already have?

Is this opportunity a distraction from working on bigger problems? Is this a bandage which helps you avoid what’s hard but important?

None of us, and no businesses can do it all or be all things to all people. Businesses need to grow. The best do it with intention and focus. We all need to work on the opportunities that are going to have the most impact. A project that adds $500,000 to your bottom line may take as much time as a project that adds $10 million. 

The key is clarity of direction. Avoid opportunities that distract from your core. Create a simple framework to evaluate the opportunities knocking on your door. Many likely don’t pass the sniff test. Those that do should be put through an evaluation process. This process need not be complicated. Make it quick. And then, invest your time in those that merit deeper exploration. It’s those that have the potential to scale. Scale doesn’t always have to be a hockey stick.

There are opportunities that may be awesome but not right now. Park them in a garage and revisit twice a year.  There’s an art to choosing opportunities that comes from experience and customer intelligence. It comes from listening and being empathetic. 

With the right filters you increase your odds of seizing opportunities that are more fun and more profitable while creating the most value for your customers. 

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