It seems obvious that growing the business means you want to bring in new clients, right?
Businesses die without a consistent influx of new clients and paying work. We know this. It isn’t a secret. The same applies in churches: without a growing congregation, a church will be hard-pressed to be sustainable.
So why is it so easy to let marketing activities slide, prioritizing something else that’s unlikely to bring in new work instead?
Admit it: we’ve all been there. Good intentions get crowded out by client work, administrative tasks, or falling down a web-surfing rabbit hole. (Hey, if that last one sounds like you, check out my series on how to stop procrastinating!)
It happens more often than I ever would have imagined: entrepreneurs who say they want to grow their business, when deep down, they really don’t want new business or new clients. That’s a conflict that will undermine your business development efforts every single time. And it’s especially corrosive because until you uncover the beliefs that keep you from wanting new business, the failure just looks like inability to secure new work.
Why might you not want new business? A few examples:
- The belief that clients are not being effectively served by the business (this is especially common in larger companies when someone is considering looking for a new job because of some philosophical objection to how the company conducts its or its clients’ business).
- Feeling too busy as is and reluctant to open a flow of additional work, even though you rationally understand that busy will be replaced by bored if you don’t create a pipeline of work.
- Working with clients you dislike, whether it’s because they’re inappropriately demanding or because you dislike the substantive work (who would intentionally set themselves up for more of what they dislike?).
Each of these reasons to avoid new business is likely unconscious. Yet action is governed by unconscious beliefs far more than we’d like to accept.
The article The Uncomfortable Truth about Getting More Personal Training Clients describes the unconscious beliefs that run counter to the desire to get new clients as values conflicts, and it offers several steps to resolve those conflicts.
- Be honest about whether you’re facing a values conflict. Make the unconscious conscious–if it exists.
- Deal rationally with the values conflicts by answering the previously unconscious belief with what’s actually true. For example, recognize upsides to more business such as that having a steady pipeline of new work will allow you more control over which clients you work with, how you work with them, and so on.
- Establish clear boundaries for your clients and yourself. Put policies and systems in place so that you define how you will engage with your clients and how and when you will undertake business development activity.
- Invest in a marketing system. When you follow a system, you will automatically take steps toward new business without being controlled by values conflicts.
Sometimes we learn best by studying outside our own fields, and this article is a terrific example. Take a few minutes, translate from personal training to your industry, and absorb the lessons.
Where are your unconscious beliefs stopping you from growing the business you want?
About Julie Fleming
Julie A. Fleming, JD, ACC, principal of Lex Innova Consulting, teaches lawyers to use innovative and effective measures to build a strong book of business and a lucrative practice. A former patent litigator, she is the author of The Reluctant Rainmaker: A Guide for Lawyers Who Hate Selling, Seven Foundations of Time Mastery for Attorneys, and the forthcoming Legal Rainmaking Myths: What You Think You Know About Business Development Can Kill Your Practice,as well as numerous articles focusing on topics such as business development, practice management, work/life balance, and leadership development. Before launching her consulting business, Julie practiced law for over a decade in firms of 3 to more than 2100 attorneys, specializing in patent litigation. A graduate of the Emory University School of Law, Vanderbilt University (B.A.) and Georgia State University (B.S.), Julie is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and currently serves as Vice Chair of the ABA Section of Science and Technology Law.
Jory has invited me to write on how to grow a solid business, and I’d love to hear your questions! What frustrates you? What challenges would you like to transform into opportunity? What are you curious about? Comment on this post and/or send your questions directly to Julie@LexInnovaConsulting.com. Please let me know you’re a friend of Jory’s. Can’t wait to hear from you!