by: Grant Gooding
“When opportunity knocks, answer the door.”
Sure, it’s good advice. I think it means keep your eyes open and don’t be afraid to take risks to capitalize on possible opportunities. However, there is something about this phrase that I take issue with; it subtly suggests that if we just go through life and as long as we pay attention, opportunities will fall in our lap.
We have all heard stories of when opportunities have simply shown up at someone’s door, but those are stories, and stories are typically outliers. More commonly, whether you realize it or not, there is a direct and linear correlation from an action that you take and a result that came from that action. This is what capitalizing on opportunities looks like for the vast majority of us.
The reality is that opportunity doesn’t knock, you have to go find it.
First, let’s be clear on what an opportunity actually looks like. An opportunity is a scenario where you can take advantage of current or future market conditions relative to your abilities. These opportunity scenarios are things like:
- Creating a new product or service
- Moving an existing product or service into a new market or vertical
- Creating new, symbiotic strategic partnerships
- Purchasing or merging with another organization
- Disrupting industry norms with new processes or channels
- Repositioning your competitors with differentiating language
COVID, for example, has provided new challenges for organizations and forced many to pivot and take advantage of one or more of these opportunities. However, pivoting when external variables impact your business and force you to change it isn’t the result of strategic planning, it’s just surviving.
OPPORTUNITY SEEKING VS. OPPORTUNITY REACTING
There are 2 types of organizations: opportunity seeking and opportunity reacting. The vast majority or organizations are opportunity reacting. That is, they react to outside market variables when they occur and then try and figure out what to do on the fly. Opportunity reacting businesses are the most susceptible to failure especially when market conditions change. The reality we all face is that regardless of our industry, our markets are becoming more commoditized every day. This means we have smaller margins of error to get things right and the most successful strategies in the future will be agility and speed to change. Opportunity reacting organizations pivot more slowly, are more susceptible to changes in the market and will be the first organizations to fail when economic environments get rocky.
Opportunity seeking organizations have agility baked into their culture. These organizations are more intuitive, have good visionary leaders and embrace market and audience research to reinforce their gut. Opportunity seeking organizations grow faster, attract good talent, have stronger cultures and are more profitable. These organizations don’t wait for opportunities to knock, they seek them out and exploit them. Opportunity seeking organizations have a budget to find opportunities and most importantly, they don’t participate in recessions.
You can make opportunity seeking part of your organization’s culture through constant and obsessive market research.
GET OBSESSED WITH MARKET RESEARCH
Market research is how you identify opportunities. If you don’t have research, all you have is hypotheses. Which opportunities are the most likely to generate revenue and traction with the least amount of effort? Which industries should you target first? What things do future customers value so we know what to say to them? Can the current market capacity support the opportunity? Can the market grow beyond its current capacity? The answers to these questions and others will keep your opportunity engine running while ensuring that your organization is minimizing wasted time and working capital.
Reflect on your organizations abilities to identify and capitalize on opportunities. Is your organization opportunity seeking or opportunity reacting? Do you have a plan or budget for market and audience research? Do you have the balance sheet to handle another COVID style recession? If you change the way you think about opportunities at your organization you will capitalize on money you didn’t know was there and leave your competition in the dust.
Which opportunities are in front of you that you are nervous to take advantage of because of the possibility of failure? We may just have some data to give you some confidence. Email us at Opportunities@ProofPositioning.com