The scheduling and discipline of business development is not so sexy. We want to be closing deals, saving lives and doing what ever it is that we do. Who wants to plot their business development? Anyone? Raise your hand. That’s what I thought. It’s not fun figuring out how to embed business development into your workweek, but guess what? If you don’t, some day your workweek will be filled with nothing but business development from morning to night because you’ll be so desperate to get a client that you’ll have no choice!
That’s really the point. Everything I do is deliberately designed to provide me with more freedom, more opportunities, and more choices. If I’m just responding to calls, then I’m at the mercy of what comes in and let’s be honest I’ve suffered from getting fat and sassy like everyone else. It’s very easy to slip into complacency when business is on the upswing, but if the market shifts and you’ve failed to position yourself for control over your revenue, you are in some deep shiatsu; in other words, an extremely vulnerable position.
I watched a biography on Richard Branson and I was struck by just how hard he still works even though he’s worth a bazillion dollars. His schedule is packed with activities that grow his companies. It is the differentiator. RICHARD FREAKING BRANSON doesn’t think that he can become complacent and count his money on his island because he CAN’T if he wants to grow and sustain any of his companies. All of the really successful entrepreneurs, professional service providers and high performers I know understand their role in driving their success and developing business. Generally the people with a drool worthy book of business know that the book requires love and attention.
Companies, law firms and successful businesses have folded because they didn’t take the time to build a growth strategy because they were just so gosh darned busy. Well, carve out some time in your busy schedule to drive the market. We all love business that just comes to us, but don’t make the costly and foolish mistake of believing that you don’t need to continue to work on business development.
I’ve had prospects call me who had been living large off of whales. Whales are those large clients that you can feed off of for many years so long as they don’t swim away leaving you with nothing but seaweed and saltwater to survive. If you’ve never paid attention to the distribution of your business – this might be a great opportunity to take a peek. If 80% of your business is coming from one source, you better hope and pray nothing happens to your whale. Your whale can be hit by a tanker – and then what? But enough with Moby Dick already – you get the idea.
Diversify your book of business the way you would diversify an investment portfolio. Plenty of people will say you have to choose one customer, one vertical, or go for one big client. You can do that, but there is a level of risk inherent to that strategy that can decimate your business in one swift movement.
If you feel have lots of business, congratulations! Just know that it can change and plan for the possibility.