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Monthly Business e-Tips Vol 1
Issue 6

Are You Missing Too Many Windows of Opportunity?

In business and in life, there are people and situations that provide opportunities to each of us. Sometimes we miss seeing them. Other times we delay taking action. Occasionally, we go with the flow. A window of opportunity is the time interval available to take an action. These situations do not stay open indefinitely; they fade away. When you look back, what window of opportunity did you leave behind?

In preparing to write this e-zine I asked myself the same question. A situation in 1996 came to mind immediately. I was working for a West Coast-based company, hired to open an office in the Boston area. Another woman hired to open an office in the Northwest started at the same time. We both became disenchanted with our employer after about nine months. She quit, telling me about a new field that she was researching for her next career. It was the field of coaching. She advised me that this field would be a great fit for me as well and to check it out.

Her suggestion went unheeded. I didn't understand the benefit of this coaching stuff. And no business would be interested, I thought, ignoring her suggestion. After working at several other tech companies, the technology bubble burst. Faced with a career change, I decided to start my own business. Thoughts of coaching reemerged. Now I was ready to look into this evolving field. After much research, I decided to enroll in a coaching school and learn this new skill to supplement my consulting experience. My ex-colleague who had suggested I do this years before, was now one of the teachers. I questioned why I had not paid attention when she told me about it. I obviously was not open to doing something new; maybe I was afraid or just not ready to make yet another career shift.

We miss opportunities for a number of reasons. Some of the causes are:

  • Opportunities are often right in front of us but we don't see them. Because we work so much in our business, we ignore a lot of what is around us. Our constant busyness can get in the way of progress.
  • Fear of change or of the unknown. Each opportunity brings a level of risk and change that we are often averse to considering. Complacency is comfortable but will not contribute to the growth of your business.
  • Readiness to accept the challenge of the opportunity. The timing may be off and it may be better to pass.
  • The opportunity is not right for us. A situation could arise where you can partner with another business. It might not be right for your business and will cause more problems than benefit. Examine the cost of the opportunity, the subject of the last issue of Growing Possibilities.

How to take advantage of a window of opportunity:

  • Be observant. Watch for opportunities right around you. Most opportunities make a light tap rather than a loud knock on your door. Watch and listen for openings so that you are aware of what is available to you.
  • Be proactive. Interact with others to become more visible and situations will come your way. It's up to you to create some of your own opportunities.
  • Be decisive. Examine the benefits and possible consequences of the decision. Not all situations are right for you, so evaluate them and then decide.
  • Take action. Go after what works for you. If you sit on a situation too long the value, motivation or opportunity will be gone.

Here is a recent example of this process. A client and his partner had worked with another company on several projects. The collaborating firm's partners suggested merging the two complementary organizations. My client was conflicted and not sure this was a good move for him. We decided to have a conference with his West Coast partner to refine their joint vision, expectations and goals. Once the partners were clear, I facilitated a meeting with all parties to evaluate the advantages and challenges of the merger.

We met and assessed what each party brought to the table and where the overlaps were. Then we looked at where the vision, values and expectations lined up or were mismatched. This information helped the group take a realistic view of a potential merger. It made sense to combine the resources of both organizations only if they were to develop into a product company. So we mapped out what issues needed to be resolved, what steps needed to be taken and who would be responsible for what actions.

Once clarified, my client was able to look beyond his doubts and fears. Now the opportunity has taken form. The two businesses haven't taken any formal steps yet but are moving forward. My client took advantage of his window of opportunity by recognizing the possibilities, evaluating them and then taking action.

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