If you are like most business professionals, you are thinking about where you see your practice/business going this year. By all indications, it appears that we will continue to have a fairly sluggish economy to deal with. What will not change for sure, is that business professionals like you, will need to be able to continue to create/sustain your value to your company. That value is created by doing great work for your clients and bringing in new clients to drive revenue to your business.In a recent analysis by Hildebrandt Baker Robbins, a highly respected consulting firm in the legal industry job market, it is projected that 17,500 jobs could disappear over the next 5 to 7 years. They attribute this to overall economic activity and how it impacts client’s needs. The study makes mention how clients have become much more price sensitive. This typically happens when there is a hyper competitive environment created by a shortage of prospective clients.
While many of those who might lose their jobs are probably good technicians the level of work is not there and therefore that expense must be cut. Those who are superior technicians and are bringing revenue into the business are not considered an expense. They are revenue generators and they are safe. Average is the new standard for dismissal. Average business will not survive!
Businesses must be very careful to only carry those individuals who can add significant value. Today’s marketplace demands that all service professionals who want to create value and be indispensable to their companies must be able to perform three roles very well. They are:
· The Technician – Take care of your client and always doing great work for them.
· The Business Developer – Bring in business consistently
· The CEO – It is your business – understand what you want – know how you will get there – execute, execute, execute
Ultimately, your client will do business with you because of you. As the CEO of your business, it is important that you set the direction of what will be achieved. If your business is successful this next year, then you will have created a great deal of value to your firm. How did your business do this past year? What have you learned this year about the markets and more specifically, the market segments that you serve?
As an example, one of your markets might be manufacturers. Since that is a very broad market it is important to focus on the right market segment where you can drive a great deal of value based on the resources you bring to bear. If you try to go to high because you want to work with larger manufacturers who can generate higher fees, you may get squished by your competitors who are better positioned to service those size clients. Conversely, if you choose a market segment where you are focusing on smaller manufacturers you may not be able to generate the margins that you need in order to make the business profitable. So, in your capacity as the CEO of your business, as you do your planning for the new year, make sure that you identify the optimum market segment where you can drive value as well as be profitable.
As the Technician, you will want to review not only the quality of work you performed for your clients this year but also how you interacted with them. Were you responsive to their needs? Was your work completed in a timely manner? Did you stay in touch with them to make sure they had no other issues with regard to the services you provide? Did you stay current on any changes or updates in the specialty that you provide?
It is a good idea to get feedback from your client on their perception as to the quality of services you provided this year. To ask them one or two things that would help them over the next year in terms of your relationship demonstrates to them that the relationship is meaningful and important. You are not taking them for granted.
Since there is an oversupply of service providers in the current economy you can be assured that your competitors are waiting in line to hear any hint of dissatisfaction so that they might swoop in and take your client. If you have the right type of relationship and open communication with your client, they will be hard-pressed to get them away from you.
As the Business Developer for your business, it is important that you assess where you are and where you want to be in terms of income and revenue in the new year. How did you track this year? Since you depend on quality referrals did they come in as expected? If not, what can you do differently? It is imperative that you have special relationships in the marketplace that you can absolutely depend on. Having a relationship system that will produce the results you want is the key lifeline to your business. If you have been depending on showing up at networking events hoping someone will throw you a “bone” or remember you when the time comes, you may want to seriously consider changing your strategy. No business can afford to leave their distribution to chance like that!
The economic environment in which you operate is indeed challenging. However, periods of disruption create opportunities. Prospects are willing to look at alternatives. The key for you is to look at your business as a business that creates value for your firm. At the end of the day there are no excuses! Your business must produce results. As you do your planning, understanding and focusing on these three critical roles will help you create the right roadmap for your success in the new year!