At base, there are only two blocks to building a business: lack of planning or lack of action. Without planning, your action will be random, and random action yields random results. Not a great way to grow a business. But a flawless plan without action will bring no results at all. Obvious, right?
As a business owner, you’ll confront obstacles and roadblocks that will force you to change your plan or the actions you take to implement that plan.
How you respond to those challenges will determine the extent of your business success. If you keep moving forward to find a solution to the problem, you’re likely to do well. If you choose instead to fall back and wait for the “right time” to get back into action, you’ll stall out and eventually fail.
Successful business owners use a particular line of analysis to evaluate problems and to decide how to approach them, and that’s what I’d like to share with you today.
To begin, ask whether you’re facing an obstacle or a roadblock.
An obstacle is a temporary challenge that can be resolved through action or by the passage of time.
A roadblock is a long-lasting challenge that is due to issues you don’t control.
For example, imagine that you’ve discovered an organization that sounds ideal for meeting your ideal clients. If the meetings are on hiatus for the summer or the holidays, that’s an obstacle. If you review the organization’s calendar and see that there’s almost no activity, that’s a roadblock.
Solve or wait out obstacles; strategize an alternative approach to get around a roadblock.
In our example, that would mean that you should wait out the meetings’ hiatus, but you could either try to revive the organization’s activity if you see a glimmer of life or search out another activity if it’s moribund.
For entrepreneurs of faith and clergy members, prayer plus reflection will always help you to discern both the nature of the challenge and also your best way to overcome it. In general, you’ll want to work on another activity while an obstacle resolves and to squeeze any benefit you can from a roadblock before moving on to Plan B. As the saying goes, “never place a period where God has placed a comma,” but don’t slide into laziness while you’re facing down a glitch in your plan.
If you feel stuck, pull out a piece of paper and brainstorm alternative avenues, and give yourself permission to list even the most ridiculous ideas so that you can narrow in on the right idea.
In summary: make your plans, but be ready to adjust them in response to obstacles and roadblocks. Plans are important, but when it comes to business development (and just about everything else, too), nothing happens without activity.
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!