“I just don’t have the time”. How many times have you heard this from professionals who are just too busy to do business development? And that’s the irony, isn’t it? You are either quiet and generating lots of ideas for great business development activities, or you are busy and do nothing at all. It’s feast or famine.
What to do when you are too busy for business development
Of course, you can always hire someone to do your business development for you (and many firms call us to do just that!), but that isn’t always an option. What’s more, our research found that the most important indicator to a firm’s growth was the level at which all professionals were engaged with business development. If you want to grow everyone has to find the time!
How do you find the time to do Business Development when the work is all-consuming?
1. Little and often
This tip is the obvious one, but it is so often overlooked. Little and often really is the best strategy for business development. That might be spending 15 minutes a day on social media. It could be making time to reach out to a client or key contact once a week. Try and find a business development activity which you can spread over the course of the week – every week. Let this be your constant. You can supplement it when you have more time, but it is your “non-negotiable” even when you are busy.
Think about the best time to achieve the task. Maybe you have a post lunch dip where you aren’t at your most productive? Use that time to call one of your contacts. Perhaps you like to look at your phone when you wake up? Use that time to review your LinkedIn app and make it your mission to comment or post at least one thing. A night owl? Think about setting aside 20 minutes to do something on your BD to do list.
2. Set something in stone
As well as having a manageable constant activity that you will keep up with, even when you are busy, think about what your firm’s annual BD calendar looks like. Include some recurring activities which have a deadline to work towards. Make it something that clients and contacts know and are excited about.
That might be a monthly newsletter, or an event that happens monthly or quarterly. Think about who is needed to deliver on those activities and make a Rota. Put it in diaries. If you are in a business development role managing a team make sure you send reminders. If you are in charge of your own activity, work back from the deadline and set your own!
Having clients expecting an event or some other type of communication is a great way to elevate the importance of a business development activity, and helps to get it over the line, particularly when you have client work competing for time.
3. Join forces
Many hands make light work – that is also true for business development! Maybe you can split larger tasks across internal teams. Perhaps you can collaborate with a client or a referrer? This has numerous advantages. Not only does it make delivering on the activity more manageable, it also strengths relationships and increases the reach.
4. Have a strategy
This is the most important tip of all. Often we gravitate to the things we do well or the things that take the least about of time. We have written before about playing to our strengths. However, whilst there is an argument that all and any BD activity is positive, not all BD activity is created equal.
If you have a clear strategy that underpins all your Business Development activity you can make sure that you maximise the time that your professionals spend on Business Development. You are more likely to see results – which, yes, will make you busier! – but which will also provide encouragement and motivation to do more.
So, there you have it, our top tips for finding the time to do business development. Whether you are a small firm with limited resource, or a large firm trying to mobilise large numbers of professionals, the struggle is real at both ends of the spectrum and, whilst the scale is different, the solutions are similar.