My Easy 3-Step Process for Evaluating New Opportunities

Jenna Kutcher 

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December 2, 2020


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If you’ve got a million ideas from your brainstorm sessions or a handful of opportunities showing up in your world, it can be downright confusing, and you may be tempted to just say “yes” to everything. You know, to see what works. That whole “spaghetti on the wall” idea throwing it to see what sticks.

And while even though I do believe each one of your passions and ideas are worthy to explore in and of themselves, they *might* not all be worthwhile to pursue and pour into long-term specifically as a business endeavor, meaning worth your time, energy, money, and resources required to delve down that path and hope it leads to profits.

Let me just toss this caveat out there that we absolutely 100% should not try to monetize every one of our passions — it’s so important in this life to let some passions just remain that, without the pressure, without feeling like you need to share them with the world, or generate revenue from something you love, so just know I’m in the camp that I want you to live a wildly passionate life but today we’ll talk about which passions make sense to pursue in terms of BUSINESS because frankly, that’s my expertise.

So before you jump into a new endeavor just because it seems shiny and exciting and lights up one of your passion lightbulbs, I want to walk you through the process I take to really pause, contemplate, and make an informed decision when it comes to new business ventures and partnerships.

What Does Success Look Like?

You need to be really, really familiar with what success looks like specifically for YOU. Have you thought about that before? I’m not talking what your parents expect of you or what the movies paint as a successful person or what you *think* you should be achieving… Your version of success relies on what you need to do in order to be totally fulfilled in your current career path. To feel passionate and live a meaningful existence and feel confident in the success you’ve earned.

Success for you is going to look different than any other human out there and a lot of times, we don’t even ask ourself that question, one that requires us getting quiet with ourselves and really examining where we’re at and where we truly want to go. What I mostly want you to know and understand is that YOUR version of success, the one you’ve created and chosen to honor, is never going to be wrong.

Achievement-based entrepreneurs prefer to hustle and take on all kinds of new opportunities for growth because that’s what fuels their contentment in their work. They are constantly reaching and striving for bigger and better and I applaud that, it’s so awesome, it’s just not me.

Maybe it’s a good opportunity for you to figure out if you’re an achievement based or a lifestyle based person, again, neither way is the right way but landing on this might help you define your version of success more clearly!

One thing I’ve found is when I get presented opportunities that feel “shiny,” it’s usually for someone else’s gain, not my own. They try to make things like “exposure” feel fancy or exciting, but those opportunities generally don’t move the needle for me. When I act out of not wanting to experience FOMO or am promised something that sounds better for the person pitching than it does in terms of moving me forward toward my goals, it’s usually not the right fit.

Now, you might have a little mix of achievement and lifestyle entrepreneur in you, or it might shift with the season of life you’re in… which is all totally valid and normal. Depending on what you’re going through, not just professionally but personally, too, will introduce different priorities that may determine whether you need to focus on bringing in income and sprinting to that next level, or fiercely protecting your time.

I honestly think I shifted from being a more achievement-based entrepreneur to lifestyle gradually after having Coco, and it makes sense based on my life’s circumstances. So I want for you to get really honest with yourself, about what motivates you every day, about what gets you out of bed every morning, and about what keeps you in the game day after day.

If your new opportunity or idea at hand is going to fan the flames of YOUR version of success, then it may very well be worthwhile!

How Much Time Will it Take?

The next thing to consider is determining how much time it’ll take for you to start, create, launch, or complete the idea.

And I’m talkin’, make sure you look at the *true* amount of time something will take you. Get realistic and even overestimate a touch to be on the safe side. It’s like those home renovation shows where they tell you to double the time it will take and double the budget, right? There’s no way to fully know the timeline a new project will take before you jump in, especially if it’s something brand new to you, but take the time to consider all the different steps and small pieces it might require from you to bring to life.

When you’re passionate it’s easy to disregard the time you’re doing something or underestimate it simply because you can’t believe that anyone would really pay you to do something you love.

I remember when I first started photography, I mistakenly thought that I was charging clients $500 to just shoot for 2 hours… To me, that seemed like a massive win! Like, wow, I thought the only way I’d be able to charge $250 an hour was if I went to law school. But… I didn’t factor in the time I spent prepping for shoots, driving to and from the location, emailing clients back and forth, hours of editing, archiving, blogging, sharing, and so on.

When I took the time and broke it all down, I was getting paid less than the fry person at McDonalds. And no shade to that guy… I like McDonalds fries. But it was a far cry from what I needed to be making in order to run a business and make a reasonable income. Be honest about the time something will truly take you and account for as many minutes as you can. The smallest of things DO add up and do need to be accounted for.

What Could it Do for Your Income?

This is the last step because to me, protecting your time and your version of success should come before money—but, that doesn’t mean financial gain isn’t an important factor to take into consideration especially if you want to take something you’re passionate about and turn it into a business.

If money was the ONLY factor, I’d be speaking on stages left and right! But the money to me in that case just isn’t worth the depletion of time and energy it requires. Again — go back to step one and how you define success and you’ll have this “knowing” about what decisions are aligned with you.

Money is a piece of the puzzle and needs to be acknowledged, either way. My relationship with money hasn’t always been a loving one. But I’ve learned over the years is that money is simply a means of exchange. Just like with estimating the time a project will take, it’s not always straightforward or easy to estimate the amount of income it’ll bring in either. It could help to give yourself a range to look at, like: “If I sold between X and Y amount of this new product, I could make this much money.”

Is the amount that you could possibly make worth the resources, time, and expense it will take you to bring this idea to life worthwhile? Do you see this being something that adds to your business long-term, or just adds a bit of a headache? Do you need to spend a lot of money in order to make it back with this new venture? How much? How soon? How often? Is it a realistic amount?

It’s important to weigh both time and money and hold them up to your ruler of success because in different seasons one will be worth more than the other. In some seasons I valued money way more and in others, time became my currency. I’m sure if I asked you right now, which do you need more of today: time or money, you could tell me without hesitation and so that’s why these parameters help you to make better decisions when determining what’s worth pursuing.

The Big Picture

These three indicators all are a part of my decision-making process as I weigh the thought of launching something new because as much as I’d love to make decisions off of gut intuition and how it aligns with my heart and soul. When it comes down to it, I still have a business to run and a team to pay. If it’s not a sound financial decision, then you’ll either need to go back to the drawing board and get a little scrappy and a lot of creative, orrr maybe it’s just not the right move right now. Remember that saying “no” to an idea doesn’t mean it’s no “never” it just means it’s a “no” for right now.

Can you see how this process can help you get really clear on which passions to pursue and where you can evaluate the time vs money conundrum while having a place to measure it against — your definition of success? It’s important to at least acknowledge and know where you stand when it comes to a big decision in alignment with your time, money, and success.

This doesn’t mean that you should only say yes to your dream gigs. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a bit, whether it’s on the time end or the money end to make a move, to get ahead, to inch closer to your dreams. There have been times where I’ve said yes to opportunities that we’re fully aligned with my destination of success but were on the route of where I wanted to head, stepping stones to get me closer.

Think of it as a bus route. If your definition of success doesn’t have a bus stop at it, you’re not going to just walk the entire way and forge your own path — though you could — you’ll likely find the stop getting you as close to your destination as you can and then you’ll figure out the rest.

While you can’t make your decision JUST off of your version of success, or JUST off of the time it’ll take, or JUST off of potential income… together, these three prongs can work to show how viable and worthwhile an idea is for you to pursue. And hey, if it passes all your considerations and it still doesn’t work out? At least you’ve made a decision that protects who you are and what you do… In my opinion, no opportunity is lost. It’s just a chance to learn, and ultimately, isn’t that what we’re all here for anyway?

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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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