Yesterday, we agreed that 27 was the magic number of opportunities to maintain in your pipeline for new work. Well, I guess we didn't exactly agree but I'll imagine some head nodding.
27 is a lot but it is completely do-able. Here's how? I'd break down the actions needed to move each opportunity forward into bite size pieces. I then anticipate "touching" each one every two weeks. The core reason for this proposed cycle is that a lot planned actions require following up with my contacts. In the beginning and as polite as they generally are, they are not going to want to hear from me more frequently-- especially if I haven't had time to take any interim steps to complete some research or write up a summary of the solution concept. So, let's reasonably assume that I can take some action on two to three opportunities per day. Then, during an average two week period, I'll hit all 27. Sorry for the long explanation. Let's move on.
So, where do you start? There are a number of prioritization methodologies out there but here is a simple amalgamation I came up with.
Plot each opportunity on this 2x2 matrix according to business benefit (profit) and alignment with purpose (why you're in business to begin with). You're going to have to roughly quantify some stuff that lacks hard numbers. That's ok. As an analyst myself, I'm in a 12-step program to overcome my obsession with data and data accuracy. Instead, just take your best guess. It's good enough.
Thinking about each opportunity in terms of profit potential and whether or not its something you'd like to be doing leads to a pretty straightforward grouping of opportunities. There are dimensions of time that would need to be factored in but I clearly want to focus my time on those items with high profit potential that also align with my purpose in starting the business to begin with. Of course, doing this forces you to get clear with yourself on what exactly your purpose is-- attraction to the client's mission, belief it the value added from your solution, or affection (professionally speaking) for the client's you'd serve are all great purpose-driven benefits.