To quickly get ahead in business and life, have a keen eye for spotting opportunities. If only we had the foresight to register a domain name in 1993—any domain name—because back then they were still all available. If only we had bought land on the river or where the mall now stands. If only we had unloaded all our stocks in early 2007 instead of 2010. Hindsight is always 20/20. But the question is: How can you spot the next great opportunity for your business?
I’m not talking about you having to predict major national and international trends like the price of gold or the stock market. I’m talking about not getting so caught up in your day-to-day work that you miss simple opportunities. It’s about you working on your business, not just in it.
Murphy’s law pretty much guarantees that if you have a problem with a customer that you resolve to fix, something will also go wrong with the planned fix, adding insult to injury.
Here are some ways to help fix customer problems:
1. Listen to the problem in its entirety without interrupting.
2. If necessary, clarify the exact nature of the problem by asking questions.
3. Acknowledge the problem and show you understand it.
Mark Twain once said that the key to his success in life was “… that I was born excited.” Most entrepreneurs I have met feel exactly the same way. That doesn’t mean they don’t need a little boost along the way or the tools to translate their excitement into motivating others on their team into action.
Very often when people think of successful entrepreneurs, the first thing that jumps into their minds is motivation. It’s a fact that your ability to motivate yourself and others will ultimately determine how successful you are in business and life. The more motivated you and your team are, the more you will accomplish. Motivation destroys procrastination, encourages positive action, boosts energy, and increases performance at every level of any organization.
In any problem, business or personal, there will be some constraints that are real and some that are perceived. Each must be examined and explored so that perceived but unreal constraints can be removed, permitting clear thinking on the real ones that remain.
Make sure the constraints you believe are in place really are. List all such constraints that you believe are in place and carefully analyze them to make sure they are real. Often, when you take yourself through this part of the problem-solving process and look carefully at each constraint, you will expose false constraints that can be removed. This may offer quick and easy solutions on which you can act.
Before you start whistling the classic country song “Take This Job and Shove It,” be wise and test the waters. Figure out what you can do on a limited scale with your new venture before packing in your current job or wrapping up your existing business.
There are often ways to test a business idea inexpensively before you put all your eggs in one basket. Many karate school owners, yoga instructors, or dance school operators start out in a community center where they can teach classes a few times a week and build up a following before committing to renting a facility and doing it full time.
Ninety-five percent of your competitors in any city or industry will be manufacturing, selling, and marketing in exactly the same way as you are. That’s why it’s so important to look beyond your locale and your industry for ideas and opportunities.
In the late 1990s I enjoyed tremendous success by looking at what type of business-to-business services were available in the “real” world and then adapting them to the martial arts business.