How do you allocate time for new business development? It’s the bane of many entrepreneurs and small business people. “I am so busy with my current projects that I don’t have time to drum up new business.” I know exactly what they’re talking about. I remember a period where I had so many writing projects on the go that I did no marketing. I just waited for the business to come in. The problem is that unless you market yourself, the business can slow to a trickle, regardless of the previous complaints that you have:
- Too much work already
- Not enough time to do anything else
- Not enough money to spend on proposals that may not pay off
I completely understand. Understanding, however, doesn’t get you anywhere, so let me make some suggestions to keep the business coming.
The first suggestion is that you dedicate some time to new business every day. It need only be half an hour, but whatever time segment you decide on, lock it in. Just put everything aside, hold your phone calls, shut down the cell and leave your e-mail alone. Next, do the following. Get yourself one of those small digital timers, punch in the time segment you’ve chosen, then, turn the timer away from you so you can’t see it. Now, focus on the work at hand.
During this time segment consider what new business you want to get into, or actually work on a new business proposal. What you might also do, and this will impact your own staff, is get the staff to join you in your sessions; and plan a session at least once a week, and brainstorm new ideas. Who better than your own staff to carry out this activity in search of new business? And encourage them to look for business opportunities that you may be unaware of through networking, or contacts they have with friends and associates. Even submit a speculative or unsolicited proposal to a client.
Here’s an idea I really like. It comes from Verne Harnish, CEO of Gazelles Inc, an executive education firm. Verne suggests that you should stop eating alone. Verne’s experience is that in one year, living in Barcelona, he built deeper business, social, and political connections than in ten years living and working in Washington DC. What could you do if you were to meet someone different even a couple of days a week? You might not generate new business immediately, but the payoff down the line could be substantial.
I understand that cash flow can get in the way of such activities. I appreciate that the current projects you’re working on have stringent timelines. In fact you’re probably working a 60-hour week. But don’t let that get in the way of allocating time for new business by pursuing practical ways to make it happen, even on your busy schedule.
Abstract: Busy people often get too busy and fail to continue marketing themselves. Small businesses, like consultants and training companies, often find themselves in this situation. This article looks at the issue and suggests some practical solutions. It’s up to you to follow up on them.