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A few posts back we talked about the Future Of Work and you did the “Will A Robot Take Your Job” exercise. If you were left feeling a little freaked out by the whole thing, today is the day you start feeling better. I am going show you how to find opportunities that you can turn into side hustle ideas.

Let me start by asking you a question.

Are you one of those people who thinks finding good opportunities is just luck?

I used to think that too. But really it is just one component.

“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

You can’t just sit around and wait for opportunity. You gotta stalk it and be ready to pull the trigger when it walks in front of you.

That is what we are going to look at today.

Here’s what you are going to discover in this post:

  • How to prepare yourself to spot opportunity
  • What to look for in an opportunity
  • Where to find opportunity
  • How to get in the habit of spotting opportunity

Let’s get started…

How To Prepared Yourself To Spot Opportunity

Opportunity is everywhere but you are going to miss most of it if you do not have the right mindset.

Here are three quotes that kind of sum up how I try to think. These are from people who know a little something about opportunity (found or lost).

Quote #1: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Albert Einstein

You need to accept that you will always need to be work and learn… until you die. Those sound like dirty words but they have been misrepresented.

If you went to the schools like the ones I went to, they gave work and learning a bad rap. Rarely was any subject that you were learning in context (just learn this stuff or else).

For example, no matter how much you think you hate math, trust me, if are going to be to some simple accounting when it comes to counting your money. If not, you’ll still want to learn a little to keep the person you hire honest.

The key is to find work that you care about, love learning more about and that is meaningful in some way so that is feels less like work. Watch this…

Now on to the quote I use the most…

Quote #2: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t you are right.” Henry Ford

Belief is probably the biggest hurdle I have had to overcome over the years. If you don’t think you can do something, you are finished before you even start. That is why learning, doing and harnessing your current skill set and talent is important.

There is a post on the Harvard Business Review about finding opportunity. It talks about being “promotion focused”. According to Heidi Grant and Tory Higgins in their book, Focus, “You are promotion-focused when you think about what you might gain if you are successful — how you might end up better off.”

Quote #3: “Nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.” Chris McCandless, “Into The Wild”

If you seen the moving or read the book, you might be thinking, [SPOILER ALERT] “WTF Corey, ultimately Chris dies. How is that success?” I would argue that he did more with his short time than you have done in the last 10+ years. Also, he is passing on some knowledge he paid the ultimate price to get. We should honor him by heeding his words.

A little bit of fear and uncertainty are good. They keep you on your toes, help you feel alive and get better.

We’ve been hypnotized to think we “need” to seek security. Yes, is good to have a place to kick up your feet at the end of a long day. To know you have people that love you and have your back. Able to get something to eat when the stomach starts to growl. Beyond food, water, shelter and clothing, we don’t “need” security.

Beyond that we get fat, lazy and unhappy (people without purpose commit suicide).

One last thing…

If you didn’t read it in the last post, make sure your click here to read “Million Dollar Briefcase.” He does a great job of getting you in the right mindset.

What To Look For In An Opportunity

I’ve been listening to an audio book called “To Sell Is Human” by Dan Pink. In it he points to studies that show how problem “finders” NOT problem “solvers” have more success in sales.

In the age of the internet and social media you don’t need a sales person who can solve a problem. 9 times out of 10 you just do a Google search or ask a your friend and followers on Facebook or Twitter and you get an answer.

But if you can help someone discover a problem they didn’t know they had, you are much more likely to make a sale.

So you may be wondering “Hey Corey, what the hell does sales and finding problems have to do with opportunity.” Well in my opinion, everything.

If you want to create a side hustle that actually puts money in your pocket, you need to be able to sell “you”, your ideas and anything you are creating. So doesn’t it make sense to start looking for opportunities that have sellable elements built in?

Also, whether you know it or not, you, me and everyone else is essentially a salesperson. If you are a parent, you gotta sell your kids on cleaning their room, hanging out with the right people or not making the same mistakes you made. If you have a job with co-workers and bosses you need to sell them on idea you have, why you might be a better choice for a now position or why you should get a paid more. And I could go on and on.

side hustle ideas homework

So, when I researched characteristics of opportunities, I wanted to make sure these characteristic were based on sellable elements that were baked in and based on helping you help people find problems they didn’t know they had. I boiled them down to 8.

8 Characteristics Of Opportunity

Here’s what to ask yourself when looking for an opportunity worth pursuing:

  1. Can it help other achieve more freedom fear and danger?
  2. Can it help make someone’s living conditions more comfortable?
  3. Can it help people be free from pain or be healthier?
  4. Can it help people win, maintain social status and make more money?
  5. Can it enhance people’s enjoyment of food and beverage?
  6. Can it help people have better social lives, find more love, have better sex?
  7. Can it help people care and protect the ones they love?

And if you really want to shoot for the stars…

8. Can it make your or anyone else’s life 10X better?

These characteristics are based on core needs and desires that every human on this earth is looking to solve in some way. If you can help someone with any of those, you are way ahead of the game.

P.S. To get 10 more bonus questions in my “Opportunity Finder Cheat Sheet” and get updates on work that matters, enter your email here or click the image below.

So, let’s look at some place to look for these types of opportunities.

Where To Find Opportunity

I have found that the best place to start looking for opportunities is literally right in front of you.

Stuart Walker over on NicheHacks has an exercise that can help you see them.  I’ve seen a bunch of exercises over the years but this was top of mind since is the most recent. It is meant more for helping online marketers finding niche markets but I tweaked it based on personal experience. It will work to help you get the opportunity spotting juices flowing.

Create 5 lists:

  1. Write down your hobbies.
  2. Write down any problems you have or challenges you face.
  3. Write down a list of skills you have (for example, can you fix a car, frame a house, create websites, draw 3D models, operate a backhoe, connect a bunch of computers to a network, customize an excel spreadsheet, butcher a deer… stuff like that).
  4. Write down anything else you want to learn more about or think would be fun.
  5. Look around your house jot down a few things you think would be interested in fixing yourself (remodeling the kitchen, fixing the plumbing, doing some electrical, planting a garden, reupholstering that antique chair, link all your appliance to an app on your phone, etc).

Do not think too hard at this point. Spend no more than 5 minutes on each list.

Also, do not discriminate. If it sounds cool or sparks something in you, write it down. Right now you do not care it it’s plumbing, welding, software, food service, robotics, facebook expert, Dear Abby relationship blogging, mobile woodfired pizza chef, small tractor implement maker, diaper pale cleaning, clam shucking, WHATEVER! Does not matter. Just let it flow.

Once you have a list…

Feed your head and take notes.

Spend the next week researching, pondering these things and taking notes. I use paper, in a word doc, wherever. I use a combination of my iPhone note app, Google Drive and the occasional Evernote.

Taking notes is a MUST. You need to write everything down.

I can’t tell you how many ideas for projects and songs that I’ve forgotten by not writing them down. It is a huge mistake not to and you’ll be kicking yourself. It can really haunt you especially if it was a good idea.

Also, even if you don’t use the information today, it might inspire or work in combination with something else in the future. Get in the habit.

So with the items on your 5 lists in mind, pay attention to how they show up in the following places throughout the week.

  • Talk (conversations you have offline and online social media)
  • Reading (books, websites, emails, newspapers, magazines)
  • Listening (podcasts, radio shows, lectures, co-workers… for example, we are encouraged to eavesdrop on other salespeople for the purposes of learning)
  • Watching (youtube videos, billboards, adverts, tv shows, things you see people doing at the grocery store or Home Depot)
  • Experiences (stuff you are using, problems you come across, places you visit, activities you do)

Try to note how they make you or others feel. Also, ask yourself if they have one or more of the 8 Characteristics Of Opportunity.

BONUS TIP: Find a media source covering one or two of the topics on your list and spend 1 hour every day actively searching for ideas. Listen to an audiobook or podcast in your car, while you’re doing the dishes, walking, running, wherever. Read on your break, in the morning with your coffee, in line at the grocery store, wherever. I hate to encourage TV (I am an addict and its a source of a lot guilt) but if it helps go for it. Just try to stick with shows that are teaching you something. For instance Shark tank, Dirty Jobs, The Profit, TLC stuff, etc.

How To Get In The Habit Of Spotting Opportunity

It is amazing to me that when you put your mind to something the solution begin to form. The key is spoon feeding your mind with a consistent flow of good information.

This post and website is a perfect example. I had no idea what the finished product was going to be I just believed and then pointed my mind in that direction.

Spotting opportunities is just a matter of exercising your opportunity spotting muscle.

With that said, that is what you need to do starting right now.

Here’s what you need to do this week:

  • Read “Million Dollar Briefcase” (click here if you didn’t in last weeks post)
  • Create your 5 lists
  • Pay attention and take lots of notes

When you finish with those, click here to read my post on how to choose money making side hustle ideas.

P.S. To get 10 more bonus questions in my “Opportunity Finder Cheat Sheet” and get updates on work that matters, enter your email here or click the image below.

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