There’s a lot of talk about doors when it comes to business and opportunities:
- “When one door closes another one opens”
- “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”
- “Close the door on the past”
- “Leave your ego at the door”
These references are common because they're true. I'm not about to debate that. However, the problem I have with them is that they all pertain to single doors- the ones we see clearly in front of us.
What people don’t talk about are the additional doors that appear when you open that first door. Often a single door leads to another door, which leads to another. I call them "invisible doors" because these secondary doors are initially hidden behind other doors, and are always invisible until you learn how to see them.
Every now and then, if you know how to spot them and have the courage to open them, you'll find a "Golden Door"- one that leads to multiple doors that also lead to multiple doors, making it a labyrinth of infinite doors of opportunity! As an entrepreneur I find it incredibly exciting and comforting to know that opportunity exists all around me.
It's one of the most incredibly empowering thing I've ever discovered!
Today we're going to look at how you can start recognising all the invisible doors of opportunity in your life and begin realising your goals (even one's beyond your wildest dreams).
Let's work backwards...
Here I am on TV discussing the future of Small Businesses in the UK... whilst I may look cool, calm, and collected, I was totally shocked that the BBC had come to me asking for my opinion on whether or not the government had done enough to prepare small businesses for Brexit! Of all the people in the whole of London, they wanted to speak to me!!
I was also invited to an event at City Hall where I was personally introduced to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan:
Now, none of this would've be possible without three factors:
- Being fully present, focussed and engaged wherever I am
- Saying "Yes" to opportunities before knowing "How" I will pull them off
- Knowing how to sell myself and my business, plus knowing when to speak
How to Find Your Own Invisible Doors
I used to wonder why two equally talented people with the same information and opportunity in front of them would produce wildly different results (During my 15 years in sales and recruitment I saw this scenario often). One person gets above average results and ultimately succeeds, the other struggles and ultimately fails.
The difference comes down to one factor above all others. Optimism! Successful people walk around with opportunity glasses on and unsuccessful people walk around with opportunity blinders on! It's the moral of the The Story of Two Shoe Salesmen. What lenses are you looking through?
Recognising doors of opportunity comes down to five factors:
- Putting yourself in situations statistically likely to benefit you
- Learning to properly sell yourself and/or your business
- Focusing on long-term value, rather than personal short-term gains
- Leveraging existing opportunities to create new opportunities
- Being willing to face rejection and expand your comfort zone
Let’s explore each one of those in more detail and you'll see how and American landed herself on the BBC discussing Brexit!
Setting Yourself Up For Success
We often hear that "luck" is about being in the right place at the right time. The “right place” for you and your business means joining networking groups that have the people that you can provide value to. Similarly, the networking group needs to be able to provide value to you, and this doesn’t necessarily mean just as potential clients or in a financial manner.
I regularly attend networking events, industry workshops and business masterminds because it puts me in the environment where I'm most likely to be learning and earning. Doors of opportunity don't just exist in the physical world though, they also exist in cyberspace, so building your LinkedIn network and Social Media followers and positioning yourself appropriately online is also hugely important.
- Learning about your industry/sector/skill set
- Connecting with people that have a similar mindset, work ethic, or life philosophy
- Able to provide value to other members of the group (business or otherwise)
Once we start immersing ourselves in situations that we can both provide and get value from, we're massively increasing our chance of spotting an invisible door of opportunity.
Selling Yourself and Your Business
Selling myself came naturally as an outgoing, extrovert with a wide comfort zone and competitive nature. Selling my business wasn't so easy. Before I had business coaches in my life, I struggled to articulate what we do, the results we produce, the value we deliver, and our uniqueness in the industry. Learning how to position ourselves properly opened a lot of doors for us, but there's one that stands out above the rest.
On a whim in January of 2018 I entered my company into the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Celebrating Small Business Awards. In March we won the FSB's London Regional MicroBusiness of the Year Award, and in May we were crowned the UK National MicroBusiness of the Year for 2018!
This did wonders for my team's confidence and morale, plus unbeknownst to us, we'd just found and opened a Golden Door!
You see, “Selling” isn’t always about a transfer of money. Selling is about getting others curiously excited about what you can offer, able to understand the value you deliver, and confident in making a decision or commitment.
In order to properly "sell" yourself and/or your business to people you meet, you need to do three things:
- Explain the problem
- Explain your solution
- Explain why people choose your solution over the other available options
The value that you provide to people varies because value is in the hands of the receiver. We can't tell someone else what we're worth to them. They need to recognize the value we bring to their life or business, and this often takes time. Entrepreneurs often fail or quit because they don't see short-term gains or haven't yet monetized their activities. Business is a series of building blocks that need to be stacked one at a time. Just because you haven't seen an immediate return or made any money, doesn't mean you never will. Persistence pays off!
When I entered Superlative in the FSB awards last year, I had no way of knowing the long-term effects that would result. Not only was I on the evening news, in the newspaper, and rubbing shoulder with the Mayor, but we've also gained a new national client, I sat in on a roundtable discussion in Parliament, I've been interviewed on several panels, I've become a South London Area Lead for the FSB, I've meet with my local council and have been invited to sit on their Business Panel and to host small business events with them.
For this reason, I'm never pressuring myself or others to do business straight away. I find pushy people incredibly off-putting and desperate, and never do business with them. I get approached online all the time with offers to buy things from strangers, and I always respond by saying that I appreciate them sharing their offer and that maybe in the future we can do business together. The ones that never respond are after the short-term wins and see me as a "no". The ones that respond politely and engage with me online are the ones I end up working with down the line when the time and situation is right!
Leveraging Existing Opportunities
I've earned a lot of recognition over the last few years for building a global business from scratch in a foreign country while rising two kids, but the secret to my success is all laid out here for you. It came down to being aware of the opportunities around me, being brave enough to take risks, and being able to take a single opportunity and multiply it exponentially.
If someone had told me in 2008 that ten years later I'd have a global portfolio of clients, have achieved $1 million in sales, and be winning national business awards - all without ever investing in marketing or advertising, I'd have said they were crazy! But it's true. I leveraged my relationships, my reputation and results to get referrals (R+R+R=$R)
Remember at the beginning of the article we talked about single doors. That's where a lot of entrepreneurs get stuck. The see one door, they open it and the get comfortable in that one room instead of checking the room out and also exploring the rest of the house! This is the mentality that allows one opportunity to compound into multiple opportunities!