What Is Low-Hanging Fruit and How Can It Help Your Career?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 2, 2021

At work, there are some types of accomplishments that require hard work and dedication, while others may involve minimal effort. Investing your time and skills into your work is admirable, but there are some situations where pursuing simple opportunities that offer accessible, fast benefits is also a good idea. Learning about the distinction between easy and challenging prospects in business can help you develop a long-term strategy for your work.

In this article, we explain the concept of low-hanging fruit in professional situations, describe when pursuing these opportunities can be beneficial for you in the workplace and share some of their main benefits.

What does "low-hanging fruit" mean?

"Low-hanging fruit" is a term that refers to opportunities or tasks that are easy to accomplish, only involve a basic level of effort and provide immediate rewards. The idea of low-hanging fruit comes from the idea that fruit growing on the lowest branches of a tree is the easiest for you to pick. This phrase is especially common in sales and finance, but you can also use it to reference any kind of professional or business opportunity. Here are some examples of low-hanging fruit in business:

  • Contacting pre-approved sales leads of people who are already interested in making a purchase

  • Renewing contracts with existing customers who regularly reorder products

  • Investing in an opportunity with existing market research indicating high returns

  • Paying for traffic to a blog

  • Using discounts and incentives to close a sale

Related: 45 Business Jargon Terms and Phrases (With Example Sentences)

When to go after low-hanging fruit

It can be tempting to always pursue easy opportunities in business, but it's important to balance accessible and simple tasks with more difficult ones. In any job, some tasks are simple and some are more challenging. Taking risks and using your work ethic to accomplish long-term goals is part of being successful in business, but you also need low-hanging fruit to provide you with short-term achievements to gain momentum.

Consider the initial metaphor of picking fruit on a tree. If you work as an apple picker, you may be tempted to start by picking all the apples at the bottom of the tree. This gives you a good start, but leaves you with the task of climbing the tree to pick all the out-of-reach apples later.

It's best to have a strategy to ensure you pace yourself to pick every apple from each section of the tree without getting tired. Here are some common situations when it's helpful to go after low-hanging fruit at work, including when you are:

Learning business practices

When you first start at a position or enter a new field, pursuing easy successes is important for learning best practices. Practicing with low-hanging fruit gives you the chance to refine your skills in a safe environment. You can make mistakes and learn from them without potentially losing the opportunity entirely. Starting with simple assignments lets you achieve confidence in your skills before moving forward to other tasks.

Related: Five Steps To Learn New Skills

Gathering resources

If you need immediate cash flow or a reliable customer base, going after low-hanging fruit can help you rapidly gather the resources you need. Other types of business initiatives may require a higher investment of money and time, but making an easy sale or pursuing an opportunity with a high chance of success can give you access to dependable resources when you need them. Knowing where to find accessible opportunities in an emergency is useful for anyone trying to grow their career.

Testing new methods

When considering trying a new technique in your work, it's a good idea to implement it in a low-stakes business situation with a high chance of success. For example, if you have a new sales method you want to test, experiment with a consistent return customer first. This way, you can be confident in getting a sale while still getting feedback on your techniques.

Meeting performance targets

Sometimes, you get behind on your performance goals and need to complete an easy assignment to recover your progress. Seeking out low-hanging fruit is helpful when you want to boost your work performance or get ahead on your goals in the short term. If you know you need to make one more sale to hit your weekly targets, for example, it's smart to approach a vetted lead instead of cold-calling random numbers.

Seizing temporary opportunities

When a great opportunity appears, it's important to take it, regardless of if it's an impressive achievement or an easy success. Amazing opportunities aren't always going to be available, so use your judgment to consider if a business opportunity is something you need to act on immediately or if it can wait. Consider your business priorities and environmental factors to decide if you need to pursue a task's benefits now.

Investing in future growth

Sometimes, low-hanging fruit can turn into long-term, sustaining opportunities. If pursuing a simple accomplishment is a good investment in your future success, it's likely a good use of your time. Think about how a project, investment or business relationship can change from a brief interaction into a strategic partnership or valuable part of your portfolio.

Related: Opportunities for Growth: What They Are and Why They're Important

Four benefits of low-hanging fruit

Here are some of the main benefits of embracing low-hanging fruit in your career:

1. Gaining momentum

Small successes can help you generate energy in your career, build professional contacts and expand your network. As you complete simple tasks at work, you can use the positive momentum from each success to motivate you toward future projects. Because low-hanging fruit typically guarantees success, regularly pursuing accessible opportunities can help you find a pattern of productivity at work.

Related: [8 Types of Motivation To Achieve Your Goals](https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/types-of-motivation)

2. Providing rewards

Planning to complete reliable, easy projects on a regular basis is a great way to reward yourself for working on other tasks. Every time you finish a difficult assignment, consider switching to one of your simple responsibilities that usually has a good outcome. This can give you a mental reward and add variety to your workday.

3. Sharing success

When you identify different types of low-hanging fruit at work, share them with others on your team. For example, if you have multiple reliable sales leads in one region, distribute them among all consultants in that area. Having a fair distribution of opportunities with a high likelihood of success can build teamwork and a culture of shared motivation.

4. Building confidence

Every time you succeed at work, it can build your confidence. Because low-hanging fruit involves regular, reliable success, it consistently boosts your confidence in your skills. If you're having a hard day at work and want to remind yourself of your abilities, choosing a project where you know you can thrive is a good way to review your fundamentals and become more self-assured.

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