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Finding Winning Opportunities February 6, 2012

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, Strategy.
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On the playing field in football or business, the winning team is the one who can find and create opportunities then convert them into a win.  Easier said than done when you consider you have to dig to find those opportunities that your competition isn’t already onto.  Knowing where to find opportunities on a continual basis is the road to business longevity.

So where do you look or hunt for those opportunities that offer potential for revenues and profitability?  Here are a few thoughts on where you might find a few.

  • Leverage your business assets for new markets, even if it’s outside your core business.  When Amazon needed reliable data infrastructure for its growing web business, it decided to build it on its own.  At some point, Amazon realized other companies who need the ability to build web-scale applications would want the same service.  Amazon Web Services was born and now powers large chunks of the internet for customers like Netflix, NASA, Virgin Atlantic and many others.
  • What about your business or industry that irritates your customers the most?  Netflix was born when founder Reed Hastings was charged a late fee notice from a video he rented.  A universal customer irritation founded a new business model for video distribution.
  •  Watch how customers adapt your product or service for new uses.  Customers who used Avon’s popular “Skin So Soft” oil discovered that if you mixed it with a 50/50 solution of alcohol, it became a very effective bug repellant.  It wasn’t long before Avon created an extension product with just that mix.
  • Look for inspiration from other industries outside your own.  It’s not uncommon to find clues for opportunities that can be transferred to your own business from a completely different industry.  For example, a bank could find inspiration for its web-based services by comparing them to web-services from other industries.  The common and easy approach is to compare yourself to those in your own industry.  That’s a one-dimensional approach that limits your ability to spot opportunities that could be applied to your business.  What are they doing that could give you a competitive advantage?

Creating a real difference in your market place takes hard work and well-tuned internal radar that is able to spot opportunities when they present themselves.  Being able to observe in detail the world around you and look for patterns that lead to fresh ideas and opportunities.

Businesses that have a knack for finding opportunities and the exploiting them aren’t lucky.  Remember, luck is where preparation meets opportunity.  The number of opportunities you find that can be leveraged for your business will be in direct proportion to the number of overlooked things your discover.