How do decide to pursue a business opportunity?
Have you ever had a brainworm?
In the natural world, a brainworm is actually a parasite common to white-tailed deer, which causes damage to the central nervous system.
Based on that definition you might do well to stay well clear!
But in one of my Mastermind calls yesterday it has a far more accessible, palatable meaning.
Louise was seeking an idea for a new way of building the visibility and credibility of her business since the COVID-19 world has removed the conference networking and speaking opportunities that had worked so well in the past. She’s the Director and Founder of a very successful project management organisation on an impressive growth trajectory and is an absolute delight to have in our group. In addition to the insightful contributions she makes to our discussions, she also introduced us to Heads Up on our recent retreat, and we laughed ourselves stupid playing 🙂
Whilst I’ll not share the idea itself (we have an important confidentiality commitment in Next Chapter Masterminds), Louise wants her marketing initiatives to clearly show how they will generate qualified leads or revenue for her business before they’ll be developed and launched. This one, on the surface, doesn’t seem to offer that obvious, tangible and direct link, but it just won’t go away and so she knows she needs to dedicate some time in her diary to fully explore it.
That’s a great example of a brainworm. An idea that has wormed itself into your awareness and just won’t leave.
So, what do you do when you have a brainworm encounter and need to make a decision?
This is what I recommend:
- Put aside some time in your diary to explore the idea
- Grab a big sheet of paper (I love A3 art diaries)
- Spill every aspect of the idea onto the page, using post-it notes – what is it, who’s it for, why is it useful, how will it help, how does it fit into your product suite, what do you like about it, what concerns you about it, do you see a clear need for it in the market (ie: does it fill a hole you’ve noticed), how does it align with the philosophy of your business, how might you price it, how will you market it, do you need help developing and delivering it, can it be outsourced?…
- Keep going until you’re tapped out
- Go make a coffee, stay away from the paper for at least an hour and then come back and look again – is there anything you’ve missed?
Now that you’ve fully explored the idea, turn to my simple 4 step evaluation system will be rather helpful. I encourage my clients to rank each area 1-5 where 1 is not so great, and 5 is awesome.
- How accessible is this market segment or target customer?
- Can you reach the Decision Maker/s easily?
The DOLLAR SIGN:
• How potentially profitable is this audience?
• Do the members of this audience have both the motivation and the means to invest in your product or service?
• Pause and look inside
• How does this opportunity feel? Is there s sense of lightness and excitement?
• How much do you love the idea of pursuing it?
The RAILWAY TRACKS:
• Is this option aligned with your values and goals?
• Does this option take you towards your vision or is it a diversion/distraction?
It’s safe to say an idea that, realistically, scores just 1-2 out of 5 in most areas is just not a go at the moment. It might be in the future, so you don’t need to throw it away completely, but you do need to put it to one side for now. I literally have an Ideas Box for these bright sparks that fizzle under closer examination.
But if you’re scoring 4’s and 5’s, then it has great potential – go for it!
Who can you share your ideas with?
Having trusted colleagues that you can bounce ideas off can be a key part of the steps I’ve outlined above. It’s why I love Masterminds so much – the people there with you understand both you and your business and are beside you throughout the journey. Louise has us. You may have some beautifully aligned people in your business life too, which is fabulous. But you also have your own sense of knowing. Trust that.
A final aspect of the decision-making process is being clear about who you are, and how you best work. When I had my Instinctive Drives debrief and understood more about how I was naturally wired, it helped me make decisions about the type of services I would deliver with more ease and delight (and what I definitely need help with, or to outsource) I was so captivated by the ID experience, I chose to become Certified in the process and it’s incorporated into my Business Strategy Sessions, Retreats and Masterminds too.
I trust the suggestions above are helpful if you need to evaluate an opportunity or idea when a Brainworm hits. If you’d like my personal assistance, just let me know. I’ve been helping with business brainworm interventions for years!
PS: The Evaluation Grid is just one of the tools outlined in my FREE Business Recalibration Guide, a resource designed to help business owners who are at the drawing board work out their next best steps. You can access a copy here.