How do you find time for business development?

alarm clock lying on multicolored surface

The most common reason lawyers and accountants give for not doing BD is lack of time but, with clients and deadlines putting you under pressure, how do you find time for business development?

If you’ll permit me to be blunt, the reality is:

– We make time for the things that we want to do

– We make time for things that we ascribe a high value to

– We are creatures of habit

This means most of the time we are on autopilot, doing what we’ve always done and relying on our subconscious to make non-critical decisions.  So, what can you do to counteract this natural response?

Here are 5 ways every lawyer or accountant can make BD part of your normal working week.

5 easy ways lawyers and accountants can find time for BD

By making these small changes you will build more visibility that will attract the type of clients and business you want.

1. Create a vision

See BD as the thing that will to make your vision happen.

For example, if you are a junior fee earner in an accountancy or law firm you might make the connection between winning work and realising your ambition to become a director or partner.

Or, if you are already a director or partner you might connect new clients and new work with a bonus that will allow you to afford a luxury holiday or much needed home improvements.

In too many firms BD is ad hoc and unstructured. Typically, this means there is no cue for fee earners to do BD, so it isn’t done (at least not routinely).

Creating systems makes it easier for you to see BD as part of your day job.  Your system could include:

2. Have a system

– Using Client Relationship Management software

– Having a personal BD dashboard

– Tracking 1on1 contacts outside of open files using a Coffee Plan, and/or

– Using business tracking tools such as Entrepreneurial Operating System (for example the traction model developed by Gino Wickman).

A system works because what gets measured gets done.  The transparency means people can be held to account.

3. Make small BD commitments

Too often ambitious and well-intended plans fail because they are over ambitious.  You wouldn’t start running by signing up for a marathon, the ‘couch to 5km’ is be more realistic.  The same is true of effective and sustainable BD.

Start by committing to very small action, for example you could:

Make a list of 5 lapsed clients, referrers, and professional contacts you like. Make a weekly diary note to call, email, or send each an article of interest. By the end of each month, you will have reconnected with 5 people.

Commit to one networking group that you feel comfortable with and put a diary entry for each event they have planned in the next 12 months.

Ringfence 30 minutes in your diary after each event that you have in your diary for follow up, e.g., invitations to join you for coffee, lunch or drink after work.

Ringfence 15 minutes in your diary once a week to write a post that relates to one of the 5 areas you want people to associate you with, e.g., family businesses, succession planning, saving money, sustainability, equality, diversity and inclusion.

4. Make it easy to get started

Neither the police nor consumers brands would ever start trying to find the people they need to find without having a very clear picture of who they are targeting. 

However, lawyers and accountants all too often engage in BD activity without being clear about who they are targeting

The tighter your target definition is, the easier it will be to decide on the best tactics.  And we’re not talking HNWIs or SMEs.  We’re talking about identifying more recognisable market niches, e.g. property and construction professionals, professional services, retail, hospitality etc.

5. Do what you like with who you like

BD takes many forms; BD is not all about formal business networking events.

Staying visible to existing contacts and clients outside open files is arguably more important than making new connections. 

If you like writing write you can stay visible by posting on LinkedIn, writing articles for your firm’s website and for the websites and publications your  clients read.

If you like presenting, speak at the events your target market will be at, e.g. at trade events and conferences, business breakfasts or at the webinars they’re likely to sign up for.

Finding the right tactics and the right system for the fee earners at professional service firms is a Tenandahalf speciality.  We do this via training and coaching and if you’d like to find out how we can help you grow your firm or chambers, please contact us today.

Published by sizetenandahalfboots

Douglas is a director of Size 10½ Boots, a specialist business development agency that works solely with the professional services, helping firms grow by winning more new clients and more work from the clients they already have. Although every project is different our work generally falls into one of three camps - strategic marketing support, BD training and 1on1 coaching and independent client research.

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