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business career entrepreneur success

Performing an Opportunity Assessment

Even if your organization is the biggest in the business, chances are it still won’t be able to pursue every opportunity that presents itself. So how do you decide which ones will benefit you and your organization the most?

The value of each apparent opportunity

You can assess the value of each apparent opportunity by asking the right questions. Get input from everyone working on your project when answering these questions and then you can determine which opportunities are worth pursuing.

The first question to ask when weighing opportunities is “What events would increase the probability of the opportunity occurring?” This gets at the fact that there are many variables you may be able to change to improve the likelihood of an opportunity happening.

Put the question to your team members, and get their opinions on how you can increase the likelihood of realizing an opportunity. To do this effectively, you might have to loosen rigid procedures or improve communication among your team. Or it may just involve getting the team to agree on an agenda for realizing the opportunity.

Actions to take to use an opportunity

Next ask “How can we encourage those events to occur?” This question probes for actions to take to improve the chances an opportunity will come about. Once you come up with suggested events that make an opportunity more likely, you then have to work with your team on making sure those events actually happen.

You may have to change working arrangements or alter the scope of a project. Or you may have to build relationships with people outside your department who have crucial expert knowledge.

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Combined Assessment Techniques

Opportunities and threats can be assessed separately, but you can also evaluate them together using some combined assessment techniques.

SWOT analysis

One of the combined techniques is known as SWOT analysis — short for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis. In SWOT analysis, you specify a company’s primary objectives and identify the positive and negative factors, both internal and external, that will contribute to meeting those objectives.

This analysis matches your organization’s strengths to external opportunities and also looks for ways to turn weaknesses and threats into strengths and opportunities. Bear in mind that a company’s strengths in relation to one objective may be weaknesses in relation to another objective.

Event tree analysis

Another combined assessment technique you can use is event tree analysis. An event tree graphically represents possible results from a specific event. By creating an event tree, you can show the likely repercussions of a particular event. Repercussions can manifest as threats or opportunities, depending on the event and the nature of your organization.

Event tree analysis lets you visually highlight where a threat or opportunity may arise for your organization. It’s also a good aid for strategizing about the long-term implications of events.

Let’s say you’re a senior manager in a cosmetics company, and you’ve decided to review overall threats and opportunities for the company. By conducting the SWOT analysis, you realize the company can generate more revenue by matching its strongest brands with advertising firms in new markets.

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Opportunity and Threat Assessment Techniques

Assessing opportunities

The opportunities and threats your organization faces can be assessed separately using different techniques. The most common techniques for assessing opportunities are opportunity analysis, market surveys, research and development, and test marketing.

Opportunity analysis

In opportunity analysis, you ask a set of questions designed to increase the chances of an opportunity occurring. It’s a process that enables you to identify where opportunities exist in your organization so you can cut costs and save time or other resources.

Market surveys

Market surveys can take the form of consumer questionnaires, focus groups, and online surveys, all of which can help your organization to find where new opportunities lie in the market. You can also carry out broader analysis of the collected data to uncover long-term trends that may point to opportunities for your business.

Research and development

Research and development, or R&D, is a key part of many industries. It’s the process of continually researching and developing new products. R&D is a good way of countering the threats posed by continuous technological development, the actions of your competitors, and shifting consumer preferences that may erode the market for your established products.

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Key Risk Assessment Concepts

Do you ever find yourself heading into work asking yourself “What’s going to happen today?” or “How is this plan going to work out in reality?” Don’t worry — this makes you a member of a pretty big club.

Assess risks and take action

After all, uncertainty is a part of every business environment and most business decisions entail risk. Assess those risks and take action where necessary to keep your business on the rails and moving forward.

Before engaging in risk assessment, however, familiarize yourself with some key concepts. The first thing to recognize is that a risk can be a threat or an opportunity. You must also consider the probability of a risk actually occurring and the impact of each potential risk.

Threats

Threats are events that may negatively affect an organization by threatening its growth potential or damaging consumer or shareholder confidence.

Let’s say there’s a possibility your company won’t finalize a new distribution deal. This represents a threat that, if realized, is likely to shrink your company’s market share.

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