It isn’t a secret that running a business is a lot of work. Whether you are just starting out, living that side hustle life, or already have a thriving business, the simple truth is that you probably have more to do than you have time to do it in. So what do you do when even more opportunities come flying your way? Jump for joy, of course — and then run for cover into the nearest avenue of procrastination. As exciting as it may be to be confronted by new opportunities, it’s also … well … overwhelming. This is where opportunity management comes in.
What exactly is Opportunity Management?
Opportunity management is exactly what it sounds like — a system for managing opportunities. This system is designed to help you evaluate and prioritize different opportunities so that you can decide what is truly worth your time — and what isn’t. Because let’s face it: it is easy to get lost in the land of opportunity and watch your original dreams and goals slip away. Opportunity management operates on the premise that time is the most valuable resource we have, and that every choice we make goes two ways. In other words, the decision to work on one task is also the decision to not work on another.
How is opportunity management any different from time management?
The obvious answer — time management manages time, while opportunity management manages opportunities — is fairly simple. But since you didn’t click on this link to get answers you already knew, we will dig into it a bit further.
At its core, opportunity management is the what and the why, whereas time management is the how. Essentially, opportunity management helps you figure out what you will do with your time. Time management helps you figure out how you will schedule that time once you have already prioritized your opportunities. Opportunity management is not a replacement for time management. Rather, they should work in tandem with each other.
Ideally, you will prioritize your tasks and opportunities first, using the opportunity management system. Once you have done that, you can use time management to make sure that everything gets done.
So…I know what Opportunity Management is now, but how do I use it?
Knowing what opportunity management is, and understanding how to use it are two very different things. Here’s a quick, no fuss guide on how to do it.
1. Finding the “why” of your side hustle
Perhaps the most important step in the opportunity management system is finding the “why” for your side hustle. You can do this by asking yourself some questions. Grab a sheet of paper and take some time to write it out. Here are some things to consider: What is your mission? When you dreamed up your idea, what did it look like? What purpose did you want to achieve? What unique service and/or product do you want to offer the world?
Other questions to consider are your personal goals and priorities. Some questions you might want to ask yourself are: What is the number one most important thing for which I want to use my time? What does my life look like right now? What purpose does my side hustle fulfill for me personally? How much time can I give it? What space does it fill in my life? Am I hoping to eventually scale it to a full-grown business?A goal without a plan is just a wish, right? How many genies do you have access to? I thought so... #SideHustle #Goals #WishInABottle Click To Tweet
These questions are important because they will help ground you, and will provide you with a measuring stick with which you can analyze each new opportunity that comes your way. These questions will also help you analyze your side hustle itself. Not every side hustle idea is perfect for everyone. By looking at your personal goals, as well as your business goals, you can really get a deeper look at how you want to use your time. A side hustle that requires lots of time away from home, for example, might not be the best choice if your biggest priority is spending more time with your family. If travel is your top priority, on the other hand, a side hustle that takes you away from home would be perfect.
Identify the priorities in your life — both personal and for your side hustle. Write them down and keep them handy. Better yet, post them where you can see them often. These will be important later in the process.
2. Creating realistic and attainable goals
Once you know your purpose, it will be much easier to create goals that reflect it. These goals should be measurable and attainable, and should help further your side hustle towards its ultimate purpose.
When creating goals, it is best to start with the big picture and then work backwards. For example, make a goal you would like to reach a year from now. Then, break that goal up into smaller milestones and deliverables that can be assigned to specific segments of time. When goal setting, it is helpful to remember a simple acronym.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Time-bound
Using the SMART acronym will help you not only make goals, but to achieve them as well. Once your goals are outlined, you can move on to the final stage.
3. Weigh each opportunity coming your way against your goals and purpose
Perhaps you received an email from a blogger who would like you to guest post on their site. Maybe you got an interview request from a prestigious media outlet. These opportunities are tempting, to be sure, but never forget that saying yes to one thing means saying no to another. Before you commit to a task or opportunity, ask yourself: Does this help me achieve my goals? Is it in line with my ultimate purpose? Will this opportunity take away time from the things I identified as my priorities? Only you know the answers to these questions.
How to say no
A lot of us have trouble saying no, whether to a new opportunity, or simply to hanging out with friends on a Friday night when we really just need time for ourselves. Pulling the trigger can be difficult. We are creatures of the modern age — constantly hooked in to what everyone else is doing all around us. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing, both in our personal lives, and in business. It can be hard to turn down an opportunity when we are afraid that we might miss out on something big.
Having tunnel-vision is helpful here. Focus on your goals, take what you need, and discard the rest. Never forget how valuable your time is. What you spend time on today, directly impacts the future you will see tomorrow … and five years from now. So don’t feel bad about saying no. And don’t be afraid either. That small two letter word is the best gift you can give yourself — and your side hustle.
When it comes to actually turning someone down, remember to always do so politely. Build bridges, don’t burn them. Thank the person reaching out, and just be honest. Tell them that you don’t have time to pursue the opportunity now. If it is an opportunity that you may be interested in in the future, let them know! You can always ask people to reach back out to you when things have calmed down and you have more time
In the end, opportunity management is as simple — or as complicated — as you want it to be. Opportunity management is useful not just for new business opportunities that may come your way, but also in your day-to-day life. Using the opportunity management process, for example, can help you refine your to-do list and define what actions will truly help you achieve your goals — and which ones are nothing more but productive procrastinating. From there, you can use time management to schedule your day, and get things done.