Finding an avenue: Seek out your opportunities to succeed

What your business can learn from the teen Microsoft Excel champion.

CNN recently covered the story of Kevin Dimaculangan, a 15-year-old who has just become the world’s Microsoft Excel champion.

How does one become a Microsoft Excel champion?

Well, firstly, there has to be a competition to enter. And there is one: the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championships, held in Kevin’s home state of Florida in the US.

(By the way, what a great bit of marketing for Microsoft to set up a competition to crown champions at using their software.)

Then a kid like Kevin has to be interested (or, sure, pushed) to excel in, well, Excel. In Kevin’s case, it’s because his teacher offered prizes to high achievers. In fact, he says he didn’t even know the program until that class.

All this is to say that in order to be great at something, there needs to be an avenue for that skill to flourish.

Avenues

Nobody became the best at the piano until the piano had been invented. Then we had piano prodigies.

Nobody knew how heavy someone could deadlift until someone set up a competition to test it.

After that happened, there was a number to beat and people do it consistently.

For myself, I know that when I’m writing a short story, knowing I can submit it to a journal or story competition gives me a word limit, a deadline and a goal to work towards. Maybe I’d write a story anyway, maybe I wouldn’t.

Another example: When I started at Hook Media, I really wasn’t familiar with video editing. But because that’s one of the major things we do, I was provided an avenue to learn and now I edit some portion of the video work we do for our clients.

So, what’s this got to do with business?

For one, keeping your eye out for opportunities that you might succeed at could be a boon for your business. Entering your work in a competition, going to a corporate function you usually wouldn’t attend, taking on some pro bono work — any of these could be the chance you need to take things to the next level.

For two? Not being put off by the constant stream of new platforms and services that are constantly cropping up.

For some businesses, it’s been nothing but a hassle entering the digital sphere. Some might even wish things would return to a simpler time, before social media, maybe even before websites. But there’s no getting that genie back in the bottle.

Adapting

Like the print media before it, many small business were slow to adapt to the promise that digital and social offered.

But the smart ones saw it was a new avenue. And therein lay opportunities.

Even for businesses like ours, built around harnessing the power of the digital for businesses, we too can get overwhelmed at the sheer number of new platforms and services.

But we give them a go and often they flourish.

For you, this might mean simply putting yourself out there. Take on a client that’s in an unfamiliar industry. Offer a service that you’re good at but would like to get better at.

Try Instagram Stories. Try boosting your social media posts. Heck, try actually managing your social media if you’re not already (of course, there are places that can help you out with that, hint hint.) Engage that content agency and see what they can do for you.

On the flipside, if you’re a potential client, take a chance on an unsolicited email or cold call. Take that meeting. You never know when the right avenue will open itself up.

Takeaway

When you have a reason to do something, you might surprise yourself as to what you can achieve.

So seek out the avenues that will help you succeed (or at least have the potential for you to succeed.)

And if you know what you want and no avenue exists yet — create one. (My former colleague Ali Adey is doing great things at the moment with her SheMentors events, for example.)

Give yourself the opportunities that might allow you to succeed. That allow you to, well, excel.

If you want to find new avenues for your business, get in touch today.

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