Peter Drucker famously declared the job of the CEO is seeking opportunity. As an entrepreneur, the world sometimes seems so full of opportunity it becomes difficult to focus. Instead, I find myself chasing shiny objects like a greyhound going after a squirrel. I call it shiny object syndrome.

Too many opportunities are only one of the common distractions. Others include succumbing to the tyranny of the urgent, allowing good processes to become bureaucratic and ponderous, and the difficulty of maintaining a disciplined approach.

The wrong way to handle shiny object syndrome is to cease looking for opportunity. However, it can be difficult to assess the opportunities that come along, especially when all we have to go on is our gut or intuition. The following are some questions we use to help CEOs filter out the best opportunities worthy of an investment of time and resources. I have arranged the questions around six business categories. Obviously, the exact wording of the questions will have to be tweaked for your company size and industry.

Financial: Will this opportunity allow us to generate a minimum of $X in annual revenue?
Growth: Will this opportunity generate at least X% continuing growth rate?
Competitive Position: Could we be first or second in the market?
Products: Will the new product be ___________? (Examples: sold on the mass market, be mass-produced, superior in performance relative to competition.)
Sustained Market Position: Does this opportunity create competitive advantage?
Capital Allocation: Will this opportunity generate at least X% annual return on invested capital?

-Eric Smith