Blog Post: New Opportunities and the Basics
New Opportunities and the Basics
Nothing like a new opportunity to create excitement, and at the same time cause you to panic a little—are you up to date and can you handle this new opportunity?
Last month, a really great opportunity for a challenging project dropped in my lap. You know the kind—the one you have to at least TRY for, even though you know some super creative rearranging will have to happen to your schedule to adjust things if you do get the project. But if you do ... it's RIGHT UP YOUR ALLEY! You will be operating in your SWEET SPOT to impact others greatly to their benefit. Can't get much better than that, RIGHT?
In the process of going for it, some of my villains started playing games with my mind and of course my schedule and activities suddenly got complicated. But ... I found out something REALLY FANTASTIC! The stuff I teach and help others to apply on a regular basis WORKS! One catch—you (or in this case, ME) have to apply it!!
So, as the end of a really unusual summer approaches and we get "back" to school, along with missing the normalcy of fall activities, the unknown of what our holidays will look like—as well as still trying to make 2020 a great business year—it might help to see some of the basic techniques that I used to help me move through this opportunity.
1st issue: QUICK RESPONSE
I had less than 24 hours to provide basic information to start the process. Fortunately, I had templates of all my major business and resume documents that I had updated a couple of months ago. I have this task on my calendar for right after tax season each year.
Tip: If you haven't done a resume for a while, consider having a professional help you update your format and content. They will ask some questions to help you define which information is relevant and critical today. Having up to date documents is a confidence builder as you can feel good about their presentation.
2nd issue: REFERENCES
I've had it on my list to organize some letters and emails from clients, and other great comments I've gotten, and ask specifically for some testimonials about working with me. But, that hasn't gotten done yet. So, I jumped on the phone and made some requests. WOW! Why didn't I do that earlier? The responses I got were sure boosts to my confidence!
Reminder: ASK for testimonials at the end of projects, and put then in a file so you have them when you need them.
Portfolio or examples of work
Having made it through the initial round, it was now time to provide examples of my work that would be relevant to the project's needs. For this particular opportunity, they provided some scenarios—you had to provide a basic solution with examples of work you had done that was in that same vane. My spreadsheet where I make notes on projects to categorize them in various ways was not fully up to date. My older projects were well recorded, with keywords and clients' contact info, but recent projects were not on the spreadsheet. Need to get that done!
TIP: This spreadsheet helps with insurance applications each year as well, so this needs to be on the calendar for an annual update, a couple of months before Professional Liability Insurance renewal time.
OK—round 2 successfully navigated! Starting to look like I could get this project. But if I do, how am I going to fit it into my schedule?
Scheduling - Time and Energy
In the excitement of a new project, it is easy to just jump into it. But that often ends in disaster, being totally over-committed. To help me avoid over-committing, my top priorities for the year are on a post-it note on my computer at all times. Having a full schedule means making sure I know what my priorities are and adjusting projects and tasks as necessary to maintain and achieve those priorities. How do you take on a big new opportunity, when you are already busy? You have to do some quick evaluation to determine if it fits your priorities and if it is doable. I have 2 strategies for this and I use BOTH!
The first one is a checklist/evaluation of each Project/Task using up time and focus (energy). This checklist helps me to determine:
- How important this project/task is to my yearly or quarterly goals
- How critical is it that I do it, or is it something that can be delegated?
- Will this project/task yield an ROI that is worthy of my investment in it?
- Can this project be done without a lot of accessory investment?
- Any accessory investment - does that fit into my goals? or outside of them?
- The client for this project - good track record or not?
- Any other complications/impacts to my life from this project?
Of course the checklist for this new project is compared to those for my other projects that are going on at the same time. I use this for both personal and business projects as my energy, focus and time get divided among both and they impact each other. Once I've done my checklist exercise, I ask my husband to review it with me, to be sure I'm not avoiding asking the tough questions especially for the complications and impacts.
The second strategy is the time/energy planning piece. Now that I have priorities reassessed with this new project as well as the ones already in place, the issues of time and energy become critical.
- How many of my scheduled work hours are already used up?
- Do I have enough hours available to add this in?
- Am I willing to extend my work hours to fit this new opportunity in?
- Are there any work hours being used by things that could be delegated?
- Am I willing to pay others to do things so that I can add this new project in?
- Am I willing to drop projects/tasks that are a lower priority?
- If I am underestimating the time or energy for this project (or other projects) how will I be able to handle it? What will have to give?
TIP: That last question is critical and often contracts play a role in it. Once a commitment is made, the contracts signed, how do I manage things to avoid problems? And if problems arise is there a backup plan or a way out? Do I have the ability to delegate more? Do I have the team set up that I am comfortable with to do that? What length of time will be the real critical crunch time - and do I have the energy support and mental support to be able to move forward with the level of performance I want to provide to my clients?
Clarity on Actions to take:
As I went through this process regarding this new opportunity, some things showed up.
- I found some things I am currently spending my time on that could be delegated. I need to find the right people (outsource) to have available for that purpose, as I don't already have them on my team.
- I found I am spending time on some projects that are not the kind I really want, but I needed them at an earlier point in time. It is time to move on from them and not take more like them, so I have time for the projects that really fit my current goals.
- I found some of my clients are nice people, but not serious about our relationship and not respecting my investment into them. I'm investing more in them than they are in themselves. I'm not serving either of us well allowing that to continue.
- I found my spouse's willingness and ability to support crunch times has changed and that affects what I can risk with my commitments.
As I completed this process, I felt really good that I was clear on how this new project fits into my goals and what has to happen to accommodate it in my schedule. I also got the opportunity to look at my skill set and strengths and see how perfect they were for this opportunity and how they were under-utilized on some of the other projects I was working on. When I got word I was moving on to the next round, I was ready and confident.
New Opportunities + Basics = Up-leveling Your Business
I wish I could say I got the project, however in the end I didn't. BUT, as you can see, the process is always a learning process that makes us better ready to move forward with clarity and energy. By using my basic tools, that have been consistently reliable, I was able to effectively respond to the new opportunity quickly. Despite not succeeding at getting the project, my time and energy going through the process were not wasted, but instead, become part of my planning and strategy activities to up-level my business. If I follow through with making the changes that showed up during the process as being needed, I will be more ready and better positioned to identify the next great opportunity that will move me toward my goals, and able to act quickly and confidently to take advantage of it.
I hope seeing this process in action helps you take steps to build some basics and be ready for opportunities that show up for you.
If you find yourself stuck on some of the basics, take advantage of a free strategy session with me. We can run through where you are stuck and find a solution to get you moving again. Set up a time for your Strategy Session.