Do you experience periods of feast or famine in your business? Do you only think about marketing when you realize you are running low on clients? Do you have some steady clients but you’d love to have more? Or are you still struggling to barely reach your key business goals? If any of these situations describe you, and you are serious about making some changes, I have an idea for you. First, a few more questions.
Be honest, how much time do you spend on business development, activities to sustain and grow your business? How often do you take action to develop your business? Do you do it randomly whenever it occurs to you? If you are like many business owners you are planning to do it later, when you have more time, after you have finished all of the urgent things you are doing that keep you so busy. How’s that working for you?
It won’t happen unless YOU make it happen. The key is to plan it and do it consistently. You’ve probably heard this quote from Einstein before and it is worth repeating here - “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. ”
So what will it take? I am asking you to spend one entire day, each week (even better if it is the same day each week) on business development. This will allow you to avoid distractions, stay focused and get into the flow of what you are doing. If you can’t set aside an entire day, you can break it up. Just make sure you are spending at least 20% of your time on business development which means you will need to track how much time you devote to it.
If you are a solopreneur it is up to you to do this. If you realize that you haven’t been doing enough business development, and you know you never will, consider outsourcing. If you have employees, you can choose to be the one to do this or you can delegate it someone else. No matter what, it must be done and done consistently.
Spending one whole day on business development every week will force you to rethink how you are spending your time. You will need to start thinking about creating solid systems and leveraging everything you do so that you can get more done in less time. You never know, you may even discover that there is much more business than you ever realized and that it is time to add more people to your company!
So what are effective business development activities? Here is a short list to get you started:
- Contact prospective clients with your offer (direct mail, e-mail, call). This one is rather obvious and yet we somehow always find a way to avoid it. Be courageous and get into action.
- Ask existing clients if they can refer you to new business. Existing clients are hopefully happy with your products/services otherwise they wouldn’t be clients. Because of this, they are likely to want to help you if they can. It’s your move to ask.
- Check in with previous clients. If you are on good terms with inactive clients you can ask them if they may be interested in your products/services again or you can offer them something new. You can also ask if they know other people who may be interested in your products/services.
- Contact potential strategic alliance partners. These are companies who sell different products/services than you do and whose clients fit with your ideal client profile.
- Develop a new product/service and promote it. A new product/service may be attractive to new clients as well as to existing and inactive clients.
- Contact groups/clubs/associations about speaking for them. It is critical that you select the groups carefully. Be sure that the members of the groups fit your ideal client profile. Speaking is one of the best ways to let people experience you and what you offer, gain credibility, and build your status as an expert.
- Place an advertisement in a publication that your ideal clients read. To be effective, run the ad at least 8-11 times. A one-time ad will not do much for your business.
Here are some things that will keep you very busy and may not help you grow your business:
- Cleaning out your files
- Talking about how busy you are
- Thinking about what you could do and not doing it
- Reading books with great ideas that never get implemented
- Buying more books with great ideas that never get implemented
This is about of working ‘on’ your business not just ‘in’ it which is required to create a long-term, sustainable business. Are you up for the challenge? Sure hope so, your business depends on it. It’s time to get cracking and make it happen.
(c) 2005 Stephanie Ward
Life & Business Coach Stephanie Ward helps business owners set their profits on fire! Get your free monthly profit tips plus bonus report at: http://www.fireflycoaching.com