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How to Keep Big Opportunities from Tearing Down Your Business

It's the dream come true: "I love what you do. I want you to do project X, so we can reach a 1,000,000 people (or build that retreat center, or, etc., etc.)" Pretend for a moment that I'm your mother, on email, and allow me to warn you about THOSE kinds of strangers. ;-) A few days ago I was reminded of this dynamic again, when one of the current Focus on Marketing? participants, using his newly-developed marketing message, started getting some pretty amazing results saying it to people.

One of those results was a successful entrepreneur who shared his dream, and wanted to support him in "going big time." "What should I do?" he asked us in class. "Should I drop all of this step-by-step-by-step building I'm doing with my business and just go for the Big Thing?" If you are even moderately successful in your business, you will, from time to time, experience Big Opportunities come your way. Television appearances. Enthusiastic would-be partners with access to certain markets. The Really Big Contract opportunity.

Question: What do you do? Answer: Don't be fooled! Mother Teresa once said, "No one can do great things. You can only do small things with great love." Our culture is caught up in "lottery syndrome." The Big Thing that is going to save you and your business, and catapult you to instant fame and fortune. Be careful, because these opportunities have the power to disrupt and distract all of the great foundational, momentum-building work you've been doing on your business.

Jim Collins, in his oft-quoted book Good to Great, writes: "Then it began to dawn on us: There was no miracle moment. Although it may have looked like a single-stroke breakthrough to those peering in from the outside, it was anything but that to people experiencing the transformation from within. Rather, it was a quiet deliberate process of figuring out what needed to be done to create the best future results and then simply taking those steps, one after the other, turn by turn of the flywheel." In my own business I've had a dozen or two "Big Opportunities" present themselves, and all of them, without exception, melted away.

Not completely. Many of them did produce results, but not the kind I dreamed about. Don't get me wrong. Big Opportunities can create big results for you. But don't mistake them for a lottery ticket. Generally, they will produce results that are in line with what your business already looks like.

Be grateful, and keep building on them. But don't expect a single one on its own to "save" you. So, what DO you do when a Big Opportunity comes along? Don't throw it away! Keys to THOSE Kinds of Strangers If the Big Opportunity is about a huge project with other partners.

Don't abandon the step-by-step process of building your business. Dream big with your potential partners, and get their support to build a prototype. The international 3M best-seller- Masking Tape, of all things- was developed through a series of $99 purchase orders by the inventor Dick Drew (it was all he had authority to issue without management approval), and released in a very limited way in a test market. When it worked wildly well, and the market demanded more and more of it, they rolled it out bigger.

Then they rolled it out really big. Do the same thing- build a small model. If someone wants to help you build a retreat center, first get them to help you hold a single retreat at another location, and see if the idea flies.

If your business isn't big enough to hold a retreat, get them to support you in developing the core principles and activities of the retreat center, and offer them on a small, local scale and see if people bite. The right kind of investors and partners won't scorn you for thinking small. They'll praise you for thinking practically. Mistakes made on a small scale can easily be corrected, whereas mistakes on a large scale may bankrupt you, or destroy your passion and hope. If the Big Opportunity is a media appearance.

Unless it's Oprah, don't expect miracle results. Don't expect millions of orders, a rush on your website, or overwhelming response. You will probably be underwhelmed, even with a major media appearance. The best way to take advantage of a media appearance is: - Have something free and very useful and germaine to the topic available on your website, and secure the opportunity to mention it as a public service. And, of course, your website visitors get it only when they give their email address to be on your list.

This way, you can build a relationship with them over time, step-by-step. - If it's major media, and you've never done that, find a media coach immediately, and get some quick coaching on how to deliver your message in the strangely unnatural and quick-moving situation of a major media interview. - Get copies of the appearance, whether in print, radio, or on screen, and strategize how to use them to help promote your business for years to come.

You'll see the biggest results long after your appearance, with the repeated use of the materials in your own promotions. Remember Mother Teresa. Keep love in your heart. Your business is about helping people, and is going to be around a long time. Don't let the Big Opportunities obscure your vision of Great Love, and know that you are in this for the long haul, and you don't need a lottery ticket to be successful.

Know that bigger and bigger opportunities will come your way organically as your business naturally grows.

Mark Silver is the author of Unveiling the Heart of Your Business: How money, marketing and sales can deepen your heart, heal the world, and still add to your bottom line. Get his free workbook, Getting to the Core of Your Business, online: http://www.heartofbusiness.com

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