Photo by Daniel Torobekov
“Sink or swim.” An apropos quote for most Californians who are weathering a record-breaking winter. The coastal areas are dealing with mudslides, the agricultural regions are flooding, and the mountains are getting buried in snow.
I know. Many of you who have heard Californians complain for years about drought may want to say, “cry me an atmospheric river”, yet there is something to be said about being prepared for the unexpected. It doesn’t take much for Mother Nature to surprise us and get the upper hand.
In business, we can often experience feast or famine. When the going is good, there is nothing better but when new business dries up, there is nothing worse. When business slows to a trickle, the tendency is to shift into scramble mode and reach out to contacts who have not heard from us in a while. Trying to book last-minute business development meetings can be an uphill battle. Clients are busy and have full calendars weeks in advance.
When we do get those meetings, what type of energy do we bring to the meeting? Do we try to impress the client by talking about ourselves for the majority of the meeting, or do we make the meeting about them?
Are we pressing too much in the conversation with the hope that the client has an opportunity for us right away, or are we patiently planting another seed knowing that an opportunity might not present itself until a later date?
Often when professionals are scrambling to bring in more work, the tendency is to speak with that slight tone of desperation that the professional cannot hear but the client can detect a mile away.
Developing and exercising consistent business development habits can help alleviate these lulls in the practice yet this requires focus and discipline. Many use “staying billable” as a convenient excuse to park business development to the side and restart their outreach when they have time. I tell my clients that the best time to connect with people for BD meetings is when they are busy. They have more to talk about, they are not pressing for new work, and they have more confidence in their voice.
It is okay to prioritize important billable deadlines yet when the lack of even a few quick touchpoints turns into weeks and even months, the pipeline will eventually dry up and the risk of hitting an eventual drought is much higher.
When the workload is light, take advantage of the extra time to front-load business development activity. When the workload is heavy, try your best to keep your foot on the BD gas pedal. Like with Mother Nature, the market can change quickly and catch us off guard if we are not prepared.
The question is, are you able to take the necessary steps to prepare for market changes and build a sustainable and successful business over the long haul?
Up here in the mountains, we need to do what it takes to get through the worst of storms even when we are not fully prepared. This applies to any region, for that matter. Whether is it stacking sandbags around the house to protect ourselves from the floods at sea level, or shoveling snow off of our roofs in the mountains to prevent internal water damage (or even collapse), the work needs to be done in order to weather the storms.