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Neil Patel

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How to identify opportunities for your business? Looking for new opportunities for your business? How do you find them, know when you’ve got the right one, and execute on it?

There are many moments on your journey when you’ll want and need to find opportunities. Identifying the right ones is incredibly important to your survival and ability to continue to thrive.

So, how do you spot them, vet them, and then take the best path to follow through on them?

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    When You Need To Identify Opportunities For Your Business

    Successful entrepreneurs and companies are always looking for new opportunities. You can’t afford to stay stagnant.

    In fact, consistently trying new things is considered one of the most important factors in winning and staying alive in business.

    Here are some of the most critical and pivotal moments to be seeking opportunities.

    When You Are Starting Up A New Business

    Perhaps you’ve already got an inspiring startup idea. Yet, it is still worth exploring your business ideas, as well as the different niches, angles, problems, and product opportunities around that.

    You want to be sure that you are seizing on the right one to start with, as it will make all of the difference in your direction, and getting off to a strong start.

    One that will become the launchpad for many more opportunities.

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    When You’ve Hit A Plateau

    You’ve always got to be thinking about what’s next. Preferably before you hit a wall or plateau. Every company does eventually. Even Facebook and Apple.

    Sometimes just doing more of the same isn’t going to work. It may not be possible to scale any more in that way.

    Or at least at an acceptable pace of growth, or with unit economics that makes sense. There are only so many times a year people are going to upgrade to a new phone, and only so many phones anyone needs.

    Crisis Moments

    If you are in business long enough you will encounter crises.

    This can be anything from a hurricane to wildfire, to hacking issues, national economic meltdowns, major industry disruptions or regulatory overhauls, to global pandemics. If it can happen, it will eventually.

    Sometimes you just have to push through it and grind it out. In many cases, it is time to seek new opportunities.

    Maybe even whole new directions. Or just seizing on new opportunities opening up as other doors close.

    Your Fundraising Campaigns Aren’t Working

    Fundraising is rarely easy. It’s not uncommon to face many rejections, even dozens and hundreds in what ultimately becomes a successful fundraising round.

    Yet, if you just aren’t getting anywhere, and you can’t land any investors you really want on board, then you may need to identify new opportunities for your business.

    That may be new product and strategy paths as the direction for your business. Or it could be how you will fund the venture.

    Keep in mind that in fundraising, storytelling is everything. In this regard for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

    Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

    You’ve Got To Have That Growth

    If your business isn’t growing it is dying. Regardless of any external pressures, you have to constantly be finding ways to grow.

    If you have brought in investors, then they will be demanding it too. You probably won’t get any further funding without it.

    Your investors may even have the power to oust you. Others on the outside will be expecting consistent quarterly and annual growth too.

    News of your company failing to grow can hurt you from attracting the best talent and partners to how attractive your brand is to customers.

    When The Competition Is Closing In

    If you are doing well others will want a piece of your pie. Maybe even all of it. This can come from young and hungry startups that operate leaner than you can.

    Or bigger and better-funded competitors willing to lose billions each year, or to tie you up in court to put you out of business.

    When they are closing in you need to find new opportunities to navigate them, hold your ground, out-market them, and keep on growing.

    Types Of Opportunities For Your Business

    There are many different types of opportunities a business may choose to look for.

    Some of them include:

    • M&A opportunities
    • New business units and spinoffs
    • Pivots
    • Geographic expansion
    • New verticals to expand in
    • New products and services
    • Expanding into new parts of the supply chain
    • Rebranding
    • Exits

    How To Identify Great Opportunities For Your Business

    Define The Purpose

    The first step to identifying the right opportunity is to begin by defining what it is for.

    What’s the objective of looking for and evaluating a new opportunity? How would you identify opportunities for your business?

    What is the one main goal it should achieve for you? You must have an absolute focus on clarity on this to avoid being detoured and trapped by distractions.

    Secondary to this is any criteria this opportunity should meet. This is where out-of-the-box thinking meeting thinking inside the box.

    Perhaps ironically it turns out that many of the truly best ideas come from finding solutions within constraints.

    So, does the short or long-term impact matter most? Are there minimum or maximum budgets or sizes of opportunities this needs to fit into?

    Gather Ideas

    Your first idea may be the best, but it is hard to know until you’ve at least considered a few. There are a variety of ways to curate and uncover new opportunities.

    Brainstorming is a great way to start. A blank page or whiteboard is a great way to connect new ideas and pour out and visual things you may not have considered otherwise.

    Don’t limit yourself to doing this alone either. This is a time when you want as much input and as many diverse perspectives as possible. Enroll your team and co-founders in it too.

    If you are debating versions of ideas then asking your online followers to chip in their ideas can work. It has the added benefits of getting them engaged, and becoming even more passionate ambassadors for you.

    You can also survey customers via email, and poll them online.

    Make sure you are soliciting your advisors and specialist consultants for ideas and solutions too. Hiring experts for just a few hours of their insights can be hugely valuable.

    Mastermind groups can be great for times like these. Bringing together those that have already been through your experience, and have different or supporting perspectives on the industry.

    This thinking time is some of the best ROI time you can get. So, treat it with the respect and value it deserves.

    Take time just to evaluate your opportunities. It may take a day, a weekend, or a week of dedicated time.

    Getting away to travel to put in this thinking time can yield many new opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise consider.

    In fact, travel can be directly tied to the journeys of many, if not the majority of top entrepreneurs and business owners.

    Don’t overlook spending more time on the frontlines of your business either. Both talking to customers and putting yourself in the shoes of your frontline staff and the customer themselves.

    These are great ways to identify opportunities for your business.

    Validate Your Assumptions & Ideas

    Ideas are great, but they are still initially usually at least partly, if not mostly based on assumptions.

    Guessing is not a strong basis for starting a business or dedicating a lot of precious resources to taking what is just a gamble.

    Anything you can do to prove your thesis will help de-risk new opportunities, gain support and clarity, and streamline your new efforts.

    Comprehensive research is the first step. Whether you do it yourself, buy reports, or commission fresh custom research, every minute spent on this will save you a lot and deliver great returns.

    Be sure you are looking at the most recent data and raw data from credible sources. Know all of the benchmarks for your assumptions and the projections you will derive from your data.

    Any early testing you can do will be highly valuable. This can be inexpensive marketing and sales tests.

    Or it can be in the form of collecting feedback and input from potential customers and partners. It’s better to test your idea before going all in.

    These efforts will also help you find the flaws in your assumptions, and tweak for better results when you really move forward.

    Looking for more tips on how to find a million-dollar business idea? Check out this video I have created with more in-depth information on how to get this done.

    Know What You Need To Make It Happen

    Chances are that you will need more than what you have in order to see this new opportunity through.

    Be sure you know what those things are in advance. You want to be sure that you can follow through.

    Building on your own skills and knowledge may be a part of this. You may need to learn more about fundraising and M&A for example.

    Make a plan for filling in these gaps ahead of your need.

    Most of the new tasks being created should of course be delegated to others. In many cases, it will require new skill sets and people that you don’t already have on board.

    You may have to decide to let some people go to change direction in your business.

    Then define who you need for this next chapter in the journey, create a new budget and begin recruiting to fill the roles you need now.

    Be sure to reach out to your current team, advisors, and investors for help on this.

    Make sure you really know the current employment market and what it is really going to cost to bring on the best quality talent. This can change dramatically over time.

    Consider what new technology, software, and tools you may need. Can you end old subscriptions and replace them?

    Will you need to finance new equipment? Or code new software of your own? Will you need new facilities and premises for this opportunity?

    How much capital will be required to effectively execute this opportunity? What strategies and options are there for freeing up or obtaining that financing or cash injection?

    You also need to know the timeframe for executing on this, and then reaping the results.

    How long will it take to prepare, launch, polish, and put returns back in the bank? This information can help you identify opportunities for your business.

    Model The Potential Outcomes

    What is the outcome of this opportunity likely to be? What happens if it fails, and what will that impact be? What’s the potential if everything goes well?

    Creating financial models for the worst case, best case and most likely scenarios can be very helpful.

    Not only for evaluating the risks versus the rewards for yourself, but gaining backing from others too.

    If you don’t love the numbers, how can you improve them? What external factors could influence the models you’ve created?

    Create Your Plan

    Whether it is merging with another company, a major pivot in your business direction, or even a new marketing push, you need a plan.

    This may range from a full business plan to a brief pitch deck, or both. You’ll also want to create a short action plan and lay out the upcoming milestones you are aiming for.

    Everyone needs to know what they should be specifically focusing on, why, and the priorities in the results of their work.

    As a part of this, you will probably also want to lay out the guidelines for a larger and longer trial and test of this opportunity.

    How long will you try? How many resources are you willing to throw at it? What metrics will deem this a fail or a success you will continue pursuing?

    Get Everyone Onboard

    Everyone who is staying needs to be on board with pursuing this new opportunity.

    If your team and co-founders aren’t on board it won’t go well at all. You may also need the permission of your shareholders, board members, and investors.

    The work you’ve put in through the steps above should go a long way to proving this is the way to go, and that this opportunity cannot be ignored. Keep them in mind when trying to identify opportunities for your business.

    You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.

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    Neil Patel

    I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

    If you want me to help you with your fundraising, just book a call.

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