How to build your opportunity recognition ability

Can you get better at spotting the most promising opportunities? How do you recognize the next big thing? How does anyone know it when they see it ?

If you’re like most people, throughout your life a few great opportunities will land on your doorstep. And again, if you’re like most people, you’ll ignore these rare opportunities because you won’t recognize them as great chances for success.

Don’t feel bad; even people in the opportunity recognition business miss out on great opportunities.

We all build success from our realized opportunities. And we all strive for more hits than misses. If you can do better than average at recognizing the opportunities in your life, you might truly prosper. But how does one build opportunity recognition ability?

There are four concepts about the nature of opportunity that can markedly improve your recognition skills;

It won’t be perfect

The ideas that will develop into great opportunities tend to be fully thought out when you hear them. But they aren’t perfect. Not at the beginning, in the middle or at the end. Your ability to see the imperfection shouldn’t blind you to the larger possibilities. In my firm, when we hire new,(typically younger people), into the business, we are accustomed to the newcomers hating every deal. They are smart enough to see the imperfection but not yet experienced enough to be confident accepting that the imperfection doesn’t define the opportunity. Endeavor to see the opportunity in spite of the imperfection of the current presentation.

Does it sound like it could be a big idea? If no, don’t bother looking any further. But if the answer is yes, accept the reality that there will be obstacles between the current moment and achievement of the imagined goal.

Regardless of the obstacles and imperfections, great opportunities are usually well thought out. Which is to say, that someone or a team of someones is thinking through every aspect of realizing the opportunity. They may not have all the answers for every challenge that must be met, but they are thinking about everything.


The future is built with today’s tools not tomorrow’s tools

The great innovations of tomorrow are usually built with today’s technologies in new combinations. You would be mistaken if you think true “invention” is the source of innovation or the typical great opportunity.

For that matter, don’t focus your evaluation of an opportunity on what’s missing like the big technology step forward or novel process. Look at what is present today. Because the big breakthrough is rare, and you must focus on what’s present.


Appreciate the evolution of previous failures

Failed attempts at an idea are more a testament to the value of the idea rather than a repudiation. In fact, most great opportunities aren’t realized on the first attempt of an idea’s execution but rather as the perfected evolution of previous failures.

When got going in the summer of 2005, it had no less than 30 comparable competitors. Failures in the video sharing website genre go back to in the fall of 1999. YouTube perfected their formula by making videos easy to upload and discover; but more importantly, by allowing other websites to embed the videos, Youtube broke through to widespread distribution. And with wider distribution, Youtube became the winner.

eBay was one of dozens of online auction sites with comparable functionality in the late 1990’s but yet it was eBay who emerged to lead a massive new category. eBay succeeded by solving the initial buyer trust issue with a feedback system. That feedback system enabled eBay to succeed as the online auction leader over auction sites with arguably better technology. They perfected the model.

In order to fairly assess an opportunity, you must examine the causes of preceding failures. Early video websites failed, in large part, because people had limited bandwidth. If the underlying cause of failure isn’t applicable any longer, the idea may be poised to succeed.


Timing can be everything

The single most powerful question you must ask yourself about an opportunity is related to timing. Is right now the right time for this idea? There are a lot of great ideas that don’t become great opportunities until the time is right for them.

Interacting socially online with people of common interests or social circles has succeeded repetitively. The current social networks are simply the most successful. The current social networks reached a point of critical mass, for example, when there was nearly ubiquitous Internet access AND widespread personal usage of the Internet. If most of your friends aren’t online frequently, a social network is of limited utility.

Facebook wasn’t the first social network and neither was MySpace. The idea of a social network can probably trace itself back to the original computer bulletin boards. A major factor for Facebook success was the timing.

You will find analogous failures for every opportunity you ever consider deeply. If you can’t comprehend why they failed, you will be ill equipped to evaluate the modern day equivalent. But the truth is, thanks to accessibility of people and their stories, you usually can find something, somewhere wherein the founders detail those causes.

In your career, in order to do better on the final accounting of opportunities vs. recognition; you must first recognize the opportunities … and they don’t always show up gift wrapped. Taking these truths into account, you should have an improved ability to know them when you see them.


OK! Haven shared this ideas that can help you improve your opportunities recognition ability, it’d be nice to highlight a few action points;


Develop relationships with highly creative people – Creative people see opportunity everywhere and their insight will rub off on you. The best way to learn to see a world of possibilities is to hang out with people that spend most of their time actively creating things. People who create art, literature, businesses, graphics, websites, ideas, music, markets, products, or anything else constructive. Find ways to spend your days and nights talking about creative ideas and thinking about possibilities. With social media, your opportunity to meet other creative people and share ideas is greater than ever before in human history. No matter where you are, if you can connect to the internet, you can meet and interact with creative people from every corner of the globe. What an amazing possibility this is. Think of the endless opportunity our connectedness provides.


Write down everything that surprises you – Many great opportunities are fueled by surprises. Surprises are usually funny, amazing, and insightful. Carry a small notebook and digital camera everywhere and document everything that surprises you. You will find endless opportunity to create things from your surprises.


Journal about problems – Some people say there is no such thing as a problem; there are only opportunities. I concede they may be right. For every problem there is a solution and that solution will have value to others. Documenting obstacles and problems and the solutions you use to overcome them is an opportunity for you to bring value to others.


Journal about possibilities – Imagine grand possibilities and write them down. Imagine inexpensive limitless clean energy. What would it look like? How would we use it? Imagine yourself being the greatest possible person you can be. What would you be? Imagine your dream business. Imagine the future you would create if you could create any possible future. What would it look like? Write it down. Find the opportunities hidden inside your imagination.


Be open to unorthodox ideas – If your first reaction to an idea is defensive, stop yourself and think “Wait, listen, let them finish. Listen to the entire idea and then imagine the possibility of the idea.” Don’t shoot down an idea just because it sounds far out or strange. Give it a moment, wait for your defensiveness to pass and then look at it again. Sleep on it or wait several days to get your prejudices out of the way. It has taken years of persistence for me to accept several unorthodox ideas that have proven valuable.


Eliminate limiting beliefs and mindsets – Are you one of those people that say “I’m just not that creative.” Do you think playing with gadgets is frivolous? Are you a bit too serious? Are you easily offended? Are you willing to indulge your curiosity or are you afraid of looking foolish? Do feel a need to follow the rules without question? All these things come from limiting beliefs and mindsets which will limit your ability to sense opportunities. Identify and smash your limiting beliefs.


Be grateful – Being grateful is the antidote to resentment and complacency. Resentment and complacency block your ability to see clearly. The best way to clear resentment and complacency from your mind is to be grateful for where you are right now. Be grateful for your gifts and your weaknesses. Be grateful for your success and your setbacks. If you are grateful for all things, including those that appear to go wrong, you will be able to see them for the opportunities they are.


Curated from: Business Insider & Steve-Olson

Got any tip that has helped you recognize fantastic opportunities in the past? Kindly share with me in the comments, I’d love to learn from you.

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